CD4 Faculty

John Buynak is a synthetic organic chemist, with 77 publications and patents. Dr. Buynak has particular expertise in the design and synthesis of β-lactam antibiotics and β-lactamase inhibitors. His specialty is the design of mechanism-based inhibitors and the structures of ten of his inhibitors, complexed to various β-lactamases, have been reported in the Protein Data Bank. His collaborators come from a wide number of academic and commercial concerns, including Merck & Co. Inc., Johnson and Johnson, Theravance Inc., Case Western Reserve University, Baylor College of Medicine, Wesleyan University, Miami University, and the University of Bristol.

Robert Harrod is an Associate Professor in the SMU Department of Biological Sciences. He received his PhD from the University of Maryland in 1996 and served as a Postdoctoral fellow at the USUHS-Naval Medical Center and the National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health. His laboratory's research investigates how host-pathogen interactions contribute to retroviral (HIV/HTLV) pathogenesis and virus-induced cancers. The long-term goals of this research are to identify novel molecular targets for antiviral therapy, and to elucidate biomarkers of infectious diseases.

Elfi Kraka has been Assistant Professor of Theoretical Chemistry, Göteborg University, Sweden, 1993 Associate Professor of Theoretical Chemistry, Göteborg University, Sweden, 1997 Full Professor Theoretical Chemistry, Göteborg University, Sweden, 2005-2009, Professor of Chemistry at the University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA, 2009- Professor of Chemistry at SMU; Administrative representative of Theoretical Chemistry, Göteborg, Department Chair of Chemistry at the University of the Pacific, Department Chair of Chemistry at SMU.

Alexander R. Lippert graduated with a B.S. from the California Institute of Technology in 2003 and began his Ph.D. in organic chemistry with Prof. Jeffrey W. Bode at the University of California at Santa Barbara.  In 2007, he moved with Prof. Bode to the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his Ph.D. in 2008. Beginning his postdoctoral research in 2009 with Prof. Christopher J. Chang at the University of California, Berkeley, he developed luminescent and magnetic resonance imaging probes for hydrogen peroxide.  In 2012, he joined the Department of Chemistry at SMU as an Assistant Professor where he designs biocompatible chemistry for use with state-of-the-art imaging techniques.

Eva Oberdörster completed her B.S. in Biology in 1992 at Binghamton University, and earned her Ph.D. in 1997 from Duke University. After a post-doc at Tulane University, she joined the faculty of Clemson University in 1998. Dr. Oberdörster has been at SMU since 2001 in the Department of Biology, where she currently is a Senior Lecturer. Dr. Oberdörster's research interests are in the area of Environmental Toxicology, in particular nanoparticle toxicity and oxidative stress.

David Son is currently associate professor and has been in the Department of Chemistry at SMU since 1996. He obtained his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research interests are focused on the synthesis and characterization of highly branched polymers for advanced materials applications.

Peng Tao joined the Department of Chemistry in the fall of 2013 as an Assistant Professor.  He received his B.S. in Chemistry (1998) and M.S. in Physical Chemistry (2001) from the Peking University in China. He obtained his Ph.D. in Computational Chemistry from the Ohio State University in 2007. He did his post-doctoral research at Wayne State University with Professor H. Bernhard Schlegel from 2007 to 2010. From 2010 to 2013, he was a research fellow in Dr. Bernard R. Brooks’ research group at NIH.  Dr. Tao’s research group focuses on developing highly efficient and accurate computational methods to calculate free energy for chemical and biological processes, and their application to solve real world chemistry and biological problems.

Nick Tsarevsky obtained his M.S. in theoretical chemistry and chemical physics from the University of Sofia, Bulgaria (1999) and Ph.D. in chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA (2005; with Prof. Kris Matyjaszewski). He worked on the synthesis of functional polymers by atom transfer radical polymerization and the rational design of polymerization catalysts for various reaction media, including aqueous solvents. Current research interests include polymerization techniques, functional materials, coordination chemistry and catalysis, and the chemistry hypervalent compounds. He has authored and coauthored more than 90 papers (55 in peer-reviewed journals), 8 book chapters, and several patents. He was awarded the Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Award in Green Chemistry (2003), the Excellence in Graduate Polymer Research Award (2004), the Pittsburgh Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Polymer Group Student Award (2004), as well as the Harrison Legacy Dissertation Fellowship (2004-5), and the National Starch & Chemical Award (2008). He was Visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University (2005-6), Associate Director of the CRP Consortium (2006), and a member of the founding team of ATRP Solutions, Inc., of which he served as Chief Science Officer (2007-10). He was secretary (2005) and chair (2006) of the Polymer Group of the Pittsburgh Section of ACS, as well as chair of the Section (2009). He joined the Department of Chemistry at Southern Methodist University in the summer of 2010.

Steven Vik obtained his BS degree in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology, and a PhD from the University of Oregon. Before joining the faculty at SMU in 1987, he did postdoctoral work at Scripps Research Institute, the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing, and at Stanford University. His research interests are in the structure, function and assembly of enzymes from energy transducing membranes. In 2008-2010 he was a visiting professor at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, where he collaborated on projects involving the natural products of tea plants.

Pia Vogel received her MS and Ph.D. equivalent degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry from the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany. After postdoctoral research at the SUNY Health Sciences Center in Syracuse, NY, Dr. Vogel returned to the U. Kaiserslautern and received her Habilitation and venia legendi in Biochemistry in 1997. After serving on the faculty at the University if Kaiserslautern she joined SMU in 2002. Dr. Vogel is interested in structure, function and mechanism of medically important proteins.

John Wise received his BS in Biology from Syracuse University and his MS and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Rochester Medical School. After post-doctoral research in Rochester and later with Nobel Laureate Paul D. Boyer at UCLA he joined the SUNY Upstate Medical Center. From 1993 to 2001 Dr. Wise was a faculty member at the University of Kaiserslautern, Germany. In 2002 Wise joined the SMU faculty. Dr. Wise is an expert in membrane protein biochemistry and computational biology.

Patty Wisian-Neilson received her B.S. degree in Chemistry from Texas Lutheran College and her Ph. D. degree in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin. She did post-doctoral research at Duke University, TCU, and UTA and was an NSF Visiting Professorships for Women in Science and Engineering at MIT. Her research involves the synthesis, characterization and applications of the class of inorganic polymers known as poly(phosphazenes) and closely related basket-shaped cyclic phosphazenes. She has served on several NSF panels and journal editorial boards, organized multiple symposia on phosphazenes, and is 2011 Chair of the DFW Section of the Dallas-Fort Worth Local Section American Chemical Society.

Brian Zoltowski joined the Department of Chemistry in the fall of 2011 as an Assistant Professor. He obtained his PhD in chemistry at Cornell University, where he specialized in determining the structure and mechanism of circadian clock photoreceptors. Prior to joining SMU, he was a Ruth L. Kirschstein Fellow at UT Southwestern Medical Center. His laboratory's research investigates how photoactive proteins regulate biological function and how they can be engineered as biotechnological and medical tools.