Faculty Profile - University of Houston
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Faculty Profile

Margaret S. CheungMargaret S. Cheung

Moores Professor of Physics, of Chemistry, and of Computer Science
Department of Physics

Office: Science & Research 1, 629B
Contact: mscheung@uh.edu - (713) 743-8358

Education: Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, B.S., National Taiwan University

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My group engages in theoretical and computational research in the field of biological and soft matter physics. We are interested in solving scientific problems with scalable computational tools and multiphysics principles. Our research focuses on the three main fronts that range from the molecular scale to the cellular and materials scale.

At the molecular level, we focus on protein dynamics inside a cell. Macromolecules and cytosolic scaffolds crowd the interior of a cell. Their intriguing interactions form robust networks of smart matter that is capable of making collective decisions for cellular survival. It is our long-term research goal to understand how the fidelity of information, built from transient interactions among macromolecules, travels across a noisy environment in a cell. The challenge of understanding them lies in the complexity of the systems where the experimental measurements for quantitative modeling is scarce.

My group participates in collaborative research projects at the Center for Theoretical Biological Physics at Rice University. We aim to develop systems models from hierarchical molecular complexes, which requires a far-from equilibrium and multiscale modeling approach. One major effort is to develop molecular models of protein motors such as kinesin and dynein for understanding their unique gaits in transporting cargo. Another project that has recently started focuses on the protein-medicated actomyosin network remodeling. We investigate on how calmodulin-dependent kinase II serves both a structural and a signaling roles in modulating actomyosin networks pertinent to the synaptic plasticity of a dendritic spine.

Lastly, a new focus is on the computational design of organic photovoltaic materials under ambient conditions. By combining molecular dynamics, quantum chemistry, rate theory and machine learning, we link structural features to quantum efficiency which gives insights on device construction.

Honors and Awards:

Moores Professorship, 2018
University of Houston Award for Excellence in Research and Scholarship (Associate Professor), 2016
Fellow, American Physical Society, 2013
University of Houston Award for Excellence in Research and Scholarship (Assistant Professor), 2012
Robert S. Hyer Research Award, 2010

Organizations, Outreach, Boards, Memberships:

Memberships:

Biophysical Society
American Physical Society
American Chemical Society

Outreach:

Outreach Director, Center for Theoretical Biological Physics

Boards:

Associate Editor, Reviews of Modern Physics
Editorial Board Member, Biophysical Journal