Jordan Hoffman ’14: The Secret Lives of Proteins

By Beth Walk

student-research-jordan

The Research

Jordan Hoffman’s project focuses on protein folding and protein energetics. Hoffman, a double major in physics and mathematics, takes a computational approach grounded in protein energetics to study what properties of proteins allow them to be able to adopt multiple 3D structures. His goal is to utilize Big Data to study various types of sequence/fold matches. Looking at known metamorphs, known homologs, and proteins that are not known to be related in any way, Hoffman is trying to design a novel metamorphic sequence and test his results experimentally.

In His Own Words

“The project sometimes seems like playing chess against an opponent who somehow breaks the rules at every turn. I’m sure that for the rest of my life I’ll lie awake at night thinking about protein folding and metamorphic proteins, about nanofluidics, and about how planets form. I will never fully understand any of them, but that’s the beauty in our world. As Tom Stoppard writes in his play Arcadia: ‘It’s that wanting to know that makes us matter.’”

Advisers:
Vincent Hilser, Professor, Biology

James Wrabl, Research Scientist, Biology