I am a postdoc in the Elowitz Lab at Caltech. My work focuses on building synthetic circuits from scratch, using de novo designed proteins (Chen and Elowitz, Cell 2021).

I received my Ph.D. from the University of Washington with David Baker and Frank DiMaio. My dissertation work focusd on making the protein version of Watson-Crick base pairing. I computationally designed and experimentally verified sets of orthogonal protein homodimers (Boyken et al., Science 2016) and heterodimers (Chen et al., Nature 2018). I also showed that their specificity could be programmed in the same way as we program specificity in DNA, leading to the creation of protein-based logic circuits (Chen et al., Science 2020). I further redesigned the homodimers to self-assemble into regular 2D protein sheets (Chen et al., JACS 2019).

As an undergrad I worked with Erik Winfree and Lulu Qian at Caltech to build cargo-sorting DNA robots — perhaps the world’s smallest couriers.

You may go further back in time and learn about my origin (may require registration) here and here.