Nik Sgourakis, Assistant Professor
During my postdoctoral work with David Baker and Ad Bax I developed Rosetta methods for determining the structures of protein complexes from sparse NMR data. In my Ph.D. with Angel Garcia at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, I used enhanced sampling MD simulations to model intrinsically disordered proteins. In my Master’s degree in Bioinformatics from the National University of Athens, Greece I developed Hidden Markov Models that predict properties of G-protein coupled receptors.

Viviane Silva de Paula, Visiting Scientist
I obtained my biological chemistry, M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), where I elucidated the structure of plant and human defensins and their interactions with membranes by solution NMR. During my Post-doc at National Center of NMR I used NMR spectroscopy, molecular dynamics and docking to characterize the molecular interactions involved with human b-defensin recognition by the immune system. Currently, I am Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at UFRJ and my research interests span various aspects of protein structure, dynamics and molecular recognition for the biological functions of chemokines and their receptors in inflammation. In my current role at UCSC, I am using sparse labeling NMR techniques to access interactions of protein assemblies involved in IL-2 signaling.

Andrew McShan, Postdoctoral Scholar
I earned a B.S. in Biochemistry and subsequently a Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from the University of Kansas. In my Ph.D. research I used NMR spectroscopy to characterize the molecular interactions involved in the assembly of bacterial type III secretion systems and to discover small molecule binders of type III proteins to be used as scaffolds for the development of novel antibacterial therapeutics. In my current role, I elucidate the mechanism of MHC-I peptide loading using a combination of NMR, Rosetta modeling and other biophysical methods.

David Flores Solis, Postdoctoral Scholar
I obtained my chemist, M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees under supervision of Dr. Federico del Rio at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where I elucidated the structure of scorpion toxins, defensins and scorpine-like peptides by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. Currently, I am using new cutting-edge NMR techniques to determine the structure, dynamics and intermolecular interactions of class-I MHC molecules.

Sarah Overall, Postdoctoral Scholar
I obtained my PhD in Immunology and Biochemistry at the University of Melbourne, Australia in the lab of Prof. Paul Gleeson, where I investigated the role of TCR stimulation in thymic regulatory T cell development and antigen presentation in inflammation induced autoimmunity. I then spent a year working with Prof. Frances Separovic using solid-state NMR to characterise 31P- signals from live bacteria and investigating the structure of pore-forming antimicrobial peptides in bacterial membranes. From there I joined the Sgourakis lab where I am continuing my interests in TCR biology and biochemistry to determine the interaction of TCRs with CD3 in order to understand how the TCR transmits signals across the membrane. My research interests are in understanding how structure relates to function in immune receptors and signalling complexes.


Santrupti Nerli, Graduate Student
I completed my B.E degree in Computer Science at SJCE, India. I obtained my M.S degree in Computer Science from SJSU, where I developed algorithms, using decision trees and Hidden Markov Models to detect splice sites and cryptic splice sites in human genome, under the guidance of Dr. Sami Khuri.

Mareike Badstübner, Research Assistant
I am an international student from Germany in my third year of the Biochemistry undergraduate program at UCSC. For as long as I can remember, chemistry has been both exciting and fascinating to me. During my undergraduate studies I realized just how beautiful the chemistry in living things – be it in plants, insects or humans – really is. I decided to endeavor in illuminating the biochemical mysteries yet unknown to humans. My role in the Sgourakis Research Group is to use both molecular biology as well as structural biology tools to investigate the
structure and function of macromolecules in organisms. Outside of academia I like to run until I can’t feel my feet, bake way too many cookies and start reading a new book when I’m not done with the one I started reading a month ago.

Ben Sherman , Undergraduate Research Assistant
I’m a senior undergraduate pursuing a degree in computer science at UCSC. My love for hacking started early on, but it wasn’t until college that I started appreciating the more sophisticated mathematical ideas which give computers a beautiful purpose. My work with the Sgourakis Research Group has been to help deliver clever computational methods to support and speed up everyone else’s work.


Joey Toor, Undergraduate Research Assistant
Vlad Kumirov , Postdoctoral Scholar