Tamar Schlick, Ph.D.

Professor of Chemistry, Mathematics and Computer Science
New York University


Biomolecular Simulation on Advanced Computing Platforms is Biology's New Microscope

Physicists have recently referred to modeling using mathematics, chemistry, and physics as biology's new, better microscope. However, algebraic analysis of a DNA molecule's Hamiltonian, for example, will not likely shed insights into the functioning of a DNA molecule in the near future. In contrast, large-scale dynamics simulations on advanced computing platforms, well grounded and benchmarked to experiments, are and will undoubtedly continue to generate new biological insights that can ultimately be tested and lead to biomedical and technological breakthroughs. As new supercomputing environments like RPI's CCNI and Blue Waters are made available or being designed, choosing important scientific applications and equally appropriate modeling tools becomes paramount. In this talk, examples of biological questions and models being developed and applied to study DNA folding, DNA replication and repair, and RNA structure and function will be described, emphasizing the multidisciplinary nature and the crucial collaboration between modeling and experiment.


Tamar Schlick, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry, Mathematics, and Computer Science at New York University, received her Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from the Courant Institute of Science, New York University, in 1987. Schlick is recognized for developing innovative mathematical and computational tools for biomolecular modeling and simulation --- including long-timestep integrator, mulitmarivate minimization algorithm, and coarse grained chromatin models --- and applying them to generate atomic-level insights into fundamental molecular processes, including DNA structure (from the base pair level to supercoiled DNA and chromatin systems), DNA polymerase fidelity mechanisms, and RNA structure/function relationships. She has about 140 published papers, is a member of several editorial boards and advisory committees in mathematics, computational biology and chemistry, and is active in the community by organizing many workshops, conferences, and new programs, especially to enhance and broaden graduate education. She has trained about 35 postdoctoral fellows and 35 research students, as well as a dozen of undergraduate and high school students. Among Schlick's honors are a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Associate Investigator, and NSF Presidential Young Investigator. Her textbook, Molecular Modeling: An Interdisciplinary Guide (Springer-Verlag) is widely used in modeling and biophysics courses worldwide.

updated: 2008-09-16