Paul Selvin

Paul R. Selvin


Assistant Professor of Physics Paul R. Selvin has received a "CAREER" Award from the National Science Foundation. The CAREER award is NSF's most prestigious honor for junior faculty members. Awards for 1999 range in amount from $200,000 to $500,000, and in duration from four to five years.

"CAREER awards support exceptionally promising college and university junior faculty who are committed to the integration of research and education," says NSF Director Rita Colwell. "We recognize these faculty members, new in their careers, as most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st Century." Professor Selvin joins Physics colleagues Ali Yazdani, Mats Selen, Paul Goldbart, and Douglas Beck as recipients of these highly competitive awards.

Professor Selvin has initiated several ground-breaking studies of considerable biological interest using photophysical methods. His substantial improvements in the prior art of fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) have produced a 100- to 500-fold improvement in the signal-to-noise rate and have opened up qualitatively new vistas for applications of these techniques to biophysical problems that require measurement of distances over the range of 1.5 to 10 nm.

Since coming to Illinois in 1997, Professor Selvin has used his LRET expertise to obtain two striking and important experimental results clarifying the conformational changes that occur during the functioning of bio-active molecules. First, with several collaborators, he detected the conformational changes in actomyosin associated with the long-sought "power-stroke" of muscle mechanics (M. Xiao, H. Li, G.E. Snyder, R. Cooke, R.G. Yount, and P.R. Selvin, "Conformational changes between the active-site and regulatory light chain of myosin as determined by luminescence resonance energy transfer: The effect of nucleotides and actin," Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95, 15309-15314 [1998]). Second, working with another group of colleagues, Paul has achieved the first detection of atomic-scale conformational changes in a voltage-controlled ion channel (Albert Cha, Gregory E. Snyder, Paul R. Selvin, and Francisco Bezanilla, "Atomic scale movement of the voltage-sensing region in a potassium channel measured via spectroscopy," Nature 402, 809-813 [1999]).


Department of Physics | College of Engineering
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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