Biochemistry/Molecular Biology


Faculty members in the biochemistry/molecular biology program are all practicing scientists who are engaged in active research, much of it with students. They believe that students learn science by doing science, so they are committed to a discovery-based curriculum.

Wei-Jen Chang, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology

Areas of Expertise: molecular biology, molecular evolution, genome structures, and bioinformatics.
Wei-Jen Chang, associate professor of biology, joined the Hamilton faculty in 2006. More >>

Chang earned a bachelor’s degree from National Taiwan University and his master’s and Ph.D. from SUNY Buffalo. During his postdoctoral work at Princeton University Chang studied gene evolution and genome organization in unicellular organisms. He has written or co-written several professional articles in Gene, Protist, Molecular Biology and Evolution and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Myriam Cotten, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry

Areas of Expertise: use and development of biophysical and biochemical techniques such as magnetic resonance to study the structure, function, and mode of action of membrane-interacting peptides and proteins. Current research focuses on antimicrobial peptides.
Myriam Cotten holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Université Pierre et Marie Curie, a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Ecole Supérieure de Chimie Organique et Minérale in Paris and earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from Florida State University. More >>

Cotten’s research interests include the use and development of biophysical and biochemical techniques such as magnetic resonance to study the structure, function, and mode of action of membrane-interacting peptides and proteins. Her current research focuses on antimicrobial peptides. Cotten's long-term goal is to identify common principles that will facilitate the design of pharmaceuticals with enhanced antibacterial activity and low toxicity for mammalian cells.

Her research has been supported by the Dreyfus Foundation, National Science Foundation, and Research Corporation (RC), and she is a recipient of a RC Brian Andreen Award and an NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award.

Tim Elgren, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry

Tim Elgren received his Ph.D. from Dartmouth College and brought his expertise in biophysical chemistry to Hamilton in 1993. More >>

Elgren's current efforts are dedicated to the examination of metalloproteins encapsulated in sol-gel glasses. The porous nature of these materials allow the encapsulated enzymes to retain their catalytic functions. The transparent materials also allow us to examine the properties of the enzymes using spectroscopic methods. 

Elgren has received numerous grants and has published articles in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Biochemistry, the Journal of Chemical Education, and The Chemical Educator. He is the past president of the Council on Undergraduate Research.

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Herm Lehman, Ph.D., Professor of Biology

Areas of Expertise: neurotransmitters.
Herm Lehman's research is focused on the development and function of neurotransmitters. More >>

Neurotransmitters are molecules released by neurons and mediate communication throughout the nervous system. Thus, the proper expression and maintenance of neurotransmitter levels is a critical, yet largely unknown, aspect of the metabolism of the neuron.

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Michael McCormick, Ph.D., University of Michigan, Associate Professor of Biology

Areas of Expertise: environmental geomicrobiology; specifically cell/mineral interactions and environmental contaminants; solid-state respiration by metal respiring bacteria; and molecular methods in microbial ecology.
Mike McCormick is a member of the Biology Department with a shared teaching commitment in the Geosciences Department. He came to Hamilton after completed a Ph.D. and post-doctoral fellowship in environmental engineering at the University of Michigan. More >>

McCormick's current research focuses on electron transfer processes between metal respiring bacteria and metal oxides, the transformation of environmental contaminants by biogenic minerals, the microbial diversity of naturally occurring redox interfaces and the development of microbial fuel cells as a novel energy source.

McCormick has published in the journals Environmental Science and Technology and Water Research. McCormick’s research has been supported by grants from the ACS Petroleum Research Fund, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). In 2007 McCormick was awarded a research grant by DOE to examine the role of biogenic Fe(II) minerals in treating uranium contamination and by NSF to characterize the microbial diversity of a novel cold seep community recently discovered off the Antarctic Peninsula.

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