Chemistry Faculty & Staff

Brian Zoltowski

Professor Brian Zoltowski


Assistant Professor  Office: 307 Fondren Science
Department of Chemistry Phone: (214) 768-2640
Southern Methodist University Fax: (214) 768-4089
PO Box 750314 e-mail:
Dallas, TX 75275-0314    

Research Group Site


  • Assistant Professor, Southern Methodist University, 2011-
  • Postdoc, UT Southwestern Medical Center, 2008-2011
  • Ph.D. Cornell University, 2008
  • B.S./M.S. University of Southern Mississippi, 2003

Research Interests:

The Zoltowski lab works at the interface of Chemistry, Biology, and Physics, where we study the molecular mechanisms of blue-light photoreceptors. These photoreceptors are intricately involved in regulation of circadian clocks, growth and development in plants, and have been implicated in the development of cancer, diabetes, as well as neurological illnesses. We use a combination of X-ray crystallography, NMR, and solution biophysics to identify the fundamental chemical mechanisms of photo-activation, including local chemical events, alteration in protein structure, and alteration in protein:protein interactions. Detailed understanding of photoreceptor structure and function allows for repurposing of enzymes as engineered photoresponsive proteins in the rapidly developing field of optogenetics.

Selected Publications:
  1. Zoltowski, Brian D., Gardner, Kevin H., "Protein:Protein Interaction Networks in Blue-Light Photosensors," Biochemistry, 2011, 50, 4-16.
  2. Lamb, J. S., Zoltowski, B. D., Pabit, S. A., Crane, B. R., Pollack, L., "Illuminating Solution Responses of a LOV Domain Protein with Photocoupled Small Angle X-ray Scattering," Journal of Molecular Biology 2009, 393, 909-919.
  3. Zoltowski, Brian D., Vaccaro, Brian, Crane Brian R. "Mechanism Based Tuning of a LOV Domain Photoreceptor," Nat. Chem. Biol. 2009, 5, 827-834.
  4. Lamb, J. S., Zoltowski, B. D., Pabit, S. A., Crane, B. R., Pollack, L., "Time-Resolved Dimerization of a PAS-LOV Protein Measured with Photocoupled Small Angle X-ray Scattering," Journal of the American Chemical Society 2008, 130, 12226-12227.
  5. Zoltowski, B. D., Crane, B. R. "Light Activation of the LOV Protein Vivid Generates a Rapidly Exchanging Dimer," Biochemistry 2008, 47, 7012-7019.
  6. Zoltowski, B. D., Schwerdtfeger, C., Widom, J., Loros, J. J., Bilwes, A. M., Dunlap, J. C., Crane, B. R. "Conformational Changes in the Fungal Light Sensor Vivid," Science 2007, 316, 1054-1057.