Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Chemical Biology

Olin-Rice Science Center, 310


About the Witus Lab
Proteins are nature’s molecular machines, carrying out nearly all the functions in the cell. Using proteins outside of their natural context is regarded as a powerful way to harness their unique capabilities to solve unmet challenges in therapeutics, catalysis and environmental remediation. However, proteins have limited stability and are difficult to synthesize in the laboratory. To address these issues, chemists are interested in designing and synthesizing protein-mimetic analogues that have similar properties. Such protein-mimetics can expand on the functions found in biological proteins by including non-natural side chains in order to access a wider structural diversity than is found in nature. The Witus lab engages students to synthesize and characterize novel synthetic protein-mimetic materials. The lab is currently focused on two main avenues towards the goal of creating protein-mimetic materials: mimicking the function of proteins by identifying minimal peptides with catalytic abilities and mimicking the structure of proteins by developing a synthetic route to new peptidomimetic structures.

About Professor Leah Witus
Professor Witus is from Michigan and attended Rice University, where she majored in chemistry and did research with Professor Jeffrey Hartgerink. She obtained her PhD in chemistry at the University of California Berkeley as part of the Chemical Biology Graduate Program, where she worked with Professor Matthew Francis on protein bioconjugation reactions. She then did research on synthetic molecular machines as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow with Professor Fraser Stoddart at Northwestern University. Professor Witus joined the faculty at Macalester College in 2015.