2019 Michael K. Harless Faculty Excellence Award
Nathan DeYonker, Chemistry
Nathan DeYonker is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Memphis. He graduated from University of Michigan-Ann Arbor with a B. Sc. in Chemistry and a minor in Astrophysics. He earned his Ph. D. at the University of Georgia under the direction of Prof. Henry F. Schaefer III in 2005. After postdoctoral work at The University of North Texas, co-advised by Profs. Angela Wilson and Tom Cundari, he joined the University of Memphis Department of Chemistry in 2009 as a staff Research Scientist. In 2016, he was rehired at University of Memphis as a tenure-track faculty member. He is currently the Director of the Computational Research on Materials Institute at the University of Memphis (CROMIUM), and the faculty advisor for the Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS).
Research in the DeYonker laboratory at the University of Memphis is generally focused on two fronts of computational chemistry. We use quantum chemistry to model spectroscopy of molecules that are proposed to exist in space but have not yet been isolated or characterized on Earth. Studying these new molecules improves our knowledge of stellar formation and proto-biological reactions. On a rather different molecular size scale, research in the field of computational enzymology has provided answers to "grand challenge" questions in biology and biochemistry. However, arbitrary decision-making processes at many points along the research pipeline, from model creation to interpreting simulation results, have created a hodge-podge of research practices throughout the community. Dr. DeYonker has recently been awarded a prestigious NSF Early Faculty CAREER award through the Infrastructure Innovation for Biological Research program to develop an automated, rules-based software toolkit for the computational study of enzymes at the atom-level using reproducible and rationally-created models.