Group Members

We are looking for new PhD students, Postdocs, and Master students to join the team (see openings) !

Jump to PI, postdocs, students, or former members.

Principal Investigator

Mahmoud Moradi
Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Cell and Molecular Biology Program
Materials Science and Engineering Program

  • Postdoctoral Associate, 2011-2015, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Ph.D., Physics, 2011, North Carolina State University
  • M.Sc., Physics, 2005, Sharif University of Technology
  • B.Sc., Physics, 2002, Sharif University of Technology

Postdoctoral Researchers

Mortaza Derakhshani
Postdoc, started Nov 2020

Mortaza received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry with a focus on computational chemistry from Colorado state university. His Ph.D. research focused on using computational methods to understand the role of resins in the aggregation of asphaltenes. He is a huge fan of nature and outdoor activities such as hiking, running, skiing. He also enjoys reading, and baking exotic breads.

Research Interests:

  • Activation dynamics of mutated corona virus variants

Adithya Polasa
Portfolio Website
Postdoctoral research fellow

Adithya Polasa received his Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology with a focus on computational chemistry from University of Arkansas. His research focused on investigation of structure, function, and the mechanism of proteins, as well as molecular dynamics simulation of interactions between metal ions and protein/nucleic acid, and computer aided drug-protein interaction study. His simple pleasures in life include hiking, camping or a run.

Research Interests:

  • Conformational dynamics of Membrane Insertases, Mechanosenstive channel protein, and G-protein coupled receptors
  • Developing a rational approach to designing recombinant proteins for peptide-directed nanoparticle synthesis and computatioanl estimation of hydrophobicity of lipids
  • Graduate Students

    Ugochi Isu
    Ph.D student, Chemistry and Biochemistry

    Ugochi Isu obtained her Bsc in biochemistry from Federal university of technology, Owerri, Nigeria. She enjoys baking, travelling and spending time with her family.

    Research Interests:

    • Chemo-mechanical couplings in the activation process of selected G-protein coupled receptors using molecular dynamics simulation
    •  Localization and effect of cholesterol binding changes in different ratios of cholesterol to POPC lipids in Metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (mGluR1)

    Matthew Brownd
    Ph.D student, Chemistry and Biochemistry

    Matthew Brownd is currently a Fourth-year graduate student. He recieved his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from John Brown University in 2019, and has an interest in studying drug binding activities, specifically as it relates to anxiolytics or antidepressants. Outside of work, he is fascinated by the realms of science fiction and technology, which he enjoys exploring through games, movies, books, or tinkering with the latest gadgets.

    Research Interests:

    Shadi A Badiee
    Ph.D student, Cell and Molecular Biology

    Shadi A Badiee is a third year PhD student in Cell and Molecular Biology. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology - Genetics from University of Yazd, Iran (Class of 2015), and her Master's degree in Molecular Biotechnology and Bioinformatics from University of Milan, Italy (Class of 2020). Shadi’s Master’s thesis was “Improving the Efficiency of Metadynamic Metainference Simulations”. She enjoys traveling, playing basketball and spending time with her family.

    Research Interests:

    Ehsaneh Khodadadi
    Ph.D Student, Materials Science & Engineering

    Ehsaneh received a B.Sc. and M.Sc. degree in Plant Breeding from the University of Tabriz, Iran, as well as a Ph.D. degree in Biotechnology. Also, she conducted a research period in the Field Omics Research Unit at the National Institute of Crop Science, NARO, in Japan, to work on proteomic analysis of abiotic sensitive and tolerant plants. Prior to joining Prof. Moradi's group, she gained three years of experience in proteome changes in the bacterial response to antibiotics at the Drug Applied Research Center in Tabriz, Iran. Ehsaneh enjoys reading, jogging, and spending time with her friends/family.

    Research Interests:

    • Develop robust simulation protocols to elucidate the atomic-level mechanisms of drug release in lipid-nanoparticle/liposomal drug delivery systems, aiming to accurately capture the molecular basis of release kinetics.
    • Employ advanced computational techniques to achieve a comprehensive microscopic understanding of biological function by characterizing membranes and membrane proteins in detail, with a focus on unraveling their structural and dynamic foundations.

    Stephanie Sauve
    Ph.D Student, Cell and Molecular Biology

    Steph is a current first year Ph.D. student in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Arkansas. She received her B.S. in biochemistry from St. Lawrence University (Class of 2022). Steph enjoys working out, cooking, and spending time outdoors.

    Research Interests:

    • Atomic-Level Characterization of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Envelope Glycoproteins Using Molecular Dynamic Simulations

    Joseph Williamson
    Ph.D Student, Cell and Molecular Biology

    Joseph Williamson is a second-year graduate student pursuing a PhD in cell and molecular biology at the University of Arkansas where he previously received his BS degree in chemistry. He is ambitious and always open to learning new skills for enhancing his abilities as a computational scientist. His current focus is in improving the understanding of the structure and function of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein using molecular dynamics (MD) based sampling techniques with comparative single molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer (smFRET) data.

    Research Interests:

    Curtis Goolsby
    Ph.D student, Chemistry and Biochemstry

    Curtis is an avid reader and explorer. His interests are wide and varied but his work in computational chemistry has ranged from developing new force fields for water to simulating large protein systems. Currently he is finishing a PhD focusing on theoretical utilization of Markov Models while working as a DevOps engineer at a major tech company.

    Research Interests:

    • Protein Conformational Landscapes
    • Deep Learning

    Soheil Jamali
    Ph.D student, Materials Science & Engineering

    Soheil is a first-year PhD student in Material Science and Engineering. He received his master's and bachelor's degrees from Ferdowsi university of Mashhad, Iran. He enjoys reading books and watching movies. Also, he likes programming and simulation (especially bimolecular simulation). He believes that with simulation, we will be able to eradicate diseases very soon.

    Research Interests:

    Fauzia Haque
    Ph.D Student,Materials Science & Engineering

    Fauzia Haque finished her undergraduate studies at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and is now focused in computational chemistry at Dr. Moradi's Lab, where she explores molecular structures particularly on nanoparticle carriers. Beyond her studies, Fauzia enjoys reading. She's also a curious traveler who loves exploring different cultures, foods, and places.

    Research Interests:

    Ehsan Khodadadi
    Ph.D student, Materials Science & Engineering

    Ehsan obtained a. B.Sc. and in Plant Breeding with a specialization in Molecular Genetic and Genetic Engineering. Furthermore, he achieved a Ph.D. degree in Molecular Genetic and Genetic Engineering from the University of Ilam.

    In addition to his research accomplishments, he served as an Assistant Professor at the Azad University of Tabriz since 2017. In pursuit of expanding his knowledge and expertise, he recently joined Prof.Moradi's lab. Here, he is committed to completing his academic journey this time in Biomolecular Simulations. This endeavor reflects his dedication to continuous learning and his desire to explore interdisciplinary fields.

    Research Interests:

    Samuel Mwatha
    Ph.D Student, Chemistry and Biochemistry

    Sam earned his B.Sc. in Analytical Chemistry with computing from University of Eldoret, Kenya in 2015. Before coming to Arkansas, Sam resided in both Nairobi, Kenya and Muscat, Oman, teaching Chemistry. He has a deep appreciation for cultural diversity. He loves skateboarding and swimming.

    Research Interests:

  • Elucidating Conformational Dynamics in Bovine Multidrug Resistance Associated Protein 1 during the Transport Cycle

    Ahmed Shubbar
    Ph.D student,Cell and Molecular Biology

    Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy (University of Kufa, Iraq) 2009.

    Master of Science in Pharmacology (Kent State University, Ohio) 2013.

    University Lecturer and Registered Pharmacist (2014-2022)

    Research Interests:

    • Computational Chemistry
    • SAR and drug design

    Undergraduate Students

    William Strickland
    B.Sc. student, Biology

    Will is an undergraduate at the University of Arkansas, pursuing a B.S. degree with a major in Biology while also minoring in Psychology and Medical Humanities. For the past two summers, Will has worked as a pharmacy technician in Little Rock, Arkansas. He loves attending Razorback sports events, and enjoys playing basketball in his free time

    Research Interests:

    Nada Tolba
    B.Sc. student, Chemistry and Biochemistry

    Research Interests:

    Former Members

    James Losey

    Role: Postdoc, started Nov 2019

    Vivek Govind Kumar

    Role: Postdoc, started Dec 2021

    Kalyan Immadisetty

    Postdoctoral Researcher, 2016 - 2018
    Role: Currently a Researcher at Loyola University, Chicago

    Jeevapani Hettige

    Postdoctoral Researcher, 2016 - 2017
    Role: Currently a Researcher at Los Alamos National Lab

    S.Hamid Tabari

    Masters Student, 2017 - 2019

    Mitchell Benton

    Honors Student, 2016 - 2018
    Role: Joined the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences as Medical Student

    Thomas Harkey

    Honors Student, 2016 - 2018
    Role: Joined the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences as Medical Student

    Reid Shelton

    Undergraduate Researcher, 2016
    Role: Joined the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences as Medical Student

    Elwnay Yehaulashet

    Honors Student, 2018 - 2019

    Muhammad Almahayni

    Honors Student, 2017 - 2018

    Hayden Hairston

    Undergraduate Researcher, 2017

    Dylan Ogden

    Former Ph.D.student , Cell and Molecular Biology
    Role: Data Scientist - LIMS Coordinator