Computational Techniques in Biophysics

Tarah Jean and Julia Hoffman
January, 2022

Dr. Wei Yang has been involved with chemistry since his college days. His interest in the subject has led him all the way to FSU where he conducts meaningful research as a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at FSU’s Institute of Molecular Biophysics. Working in computational biophysics, the primary focus of Dr. Yang’s research is to develop special computational techniques that allow him to simulate functional proteins of biological molecules.

In simpler terms, molecules are formed by atoms; the biological molecules are simply bigger and more complex than their counterparts, “regular” molecules. Because of how fast biological molecules move, specific techniques are required in order to trace motion in terms of land scale and timescale. Computational techniques make it possible to see the actions of molecules through a microscope lens.

To help accomplish his goals, Dr. Yang uses the Research Computing Center (RCC) resources by working together with the center to have more machines that allow for a better computer facility, which in turn allows a better production of data. RCC also enables the work of Dr. Yang’s research by providing computer resources and storage. Dr. Yang uses computers to deconstruct molecules through computer simulations.

Dr. Yang’s team of students and research associates have been helping hands throughout his research. They perform computer simulation and receive assistance from him on how to perform analysis, get conclusions, and generally push research forward.

Dr. Yang prides himself in being a part of the first group of faculty members to start with RCC, since the center didn’t exist when he came to FSU. He describes the RCC to be a very essential part of his research overall and even explains it  as a dream come true.

“Scientists do science to go after some dream, particularly a dream that was had when younger,” Dr. Yang said. “The reason I can still do this type of research is because at that moment, I was dreaming that one day I could do this type of simulation.”