Nebraska Chemistry Welcomes Yesselman

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by UNL Chemistry Wed, 10/30/2019 - 13:57
Nebraska Chemistry is pleased to introduce Dr. Joseph Yesselman as one of the newest faculty members of the department. In August 2019, Yesselman joined the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as Assistant Professor.

Yesselman received his Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of Rochester (New York). He then went on to study and research at the University of Michigan where he received his Ph.D. in Biophysics. Most recently, Yesselman has been at Stanford University serving as a National Institutes of Health Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellow. While at Stanford, Yesselman researched in the R. Das laboratory. The Das research group focuses on RNA structures and the protein interfaces with RNA. During his time with the Das group, Yesselman contributed to 12 publications.

Yesselman has always had an interest in the sciences, notably biology, chemistry, and physics. With an interdisciplinary background, Yesselman has found the importance of chemistry in his RNA research through graduate school and his postdoctoral experiences. His fascination with how biological polymers and proteins can begin as a sting strand and develop into complex shapes to perform a variety of processes will be the driving force in his research. Yesselman said, “My research will focus on developing methods for designing RNA 3D structures and machines for therapeutic, engineering, and basic science applications.”

Part of Yesselman’s research is to continually develop and improve RNAMake, a software toolkit for designing and optimizing RNA 3D structure. This ongoing project maintained by the Das Lab and Stanford Medicine allows researchers build 3D RNA scaffolds and analyze a variety of factors including tertiary contacts. In regards to other goals of the research group, Yesselman said, “To design new RNA machines, including molecular sensors for environmental contamination, 3D shape detecting ‘claws’ for discovering disease-related RNAs and RNA-based therapeutic inhibitors for traditionally ‘undruggable’ proteins.”

Yesselman found Nebraska to be very supportive and a place where his research can progress. “I am most excited for the great science and collaborative atmosphere that I saw when I came to visit. All the department members, staff and other university employees have been so welcoming and supportive of my work,” he said.