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Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory | U of I

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Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory
208 North Wright Street Urbana, Illinois 61801


Office hours 8:30a - 5:00p


Phone: 217-333-3097
Fax: 217-244-6375


Taekjip Ha

Taekjip Ha

Ph.D., Physics, Univ. of California, Berkeley, 1996

Research Statement:
My interest is in using physical concepts and experimental techniques to study fundamental questions in molecular biology. The biological systems under study include helicases that unzip DNA, DNA recombination intermediate called Holliday junction and its associated enzymes, folding and catalysis of hairpin and VS ribozymes, DNA replication machinery, and chromatin remodeling complexes. Our main experimental tool is single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy, supported by nano-mechanical tools such as magnetic and optical tweezers.
Research Interests:
  • DNA-protein and protein-protein interactions, protein and RNA folding, membrane biophysics, fluorescence microscopy of biological systems, single molecule spectroscopy and manipulations, biologically inspired nano-mechanical devices, RecA.
  • Ph.D. Thesis Title: Fluorescence spectroscopy of single molecules at room temperature and its applications.
Undergraduate Research Opportunities:
My lab reaches out to undergraduate students and over the years I have tutored over 12 undergraduate students who have gone on to apply for graduate schools, either at Illinois or other universities. Currently, there are several physics undergraduate students who are working on projects in my lab, including engineering a helicase mutant that reverses its natural direction of movement, and two computer science undergraduate students who are writing codes for super-resolution imaging. One of the missions of the Center for the Physics of Living Cells is to tutor the next generation of scientists in the physics of living cells, thus we have an active group of undergraduate students working on various aspects of this important vision.
For more information:
Single Molecule Nanometry Group (Ha Group)
Center for the Physics of Living Cells
HHMI Investigator Research, Taekjip Ha
Cellular Decision Making in Cancer, IGB

Honors, Recognition, and Outstanding Achievements:

  • Gutgsell Professor, University of Illinois (2012)
  • Ho-Am Prize in Science, Ho-Am Foundation, Korea (2011)
  • University Scholar, University of Illinos (2009-2010)
  • National Science Foundation Award, Center for the Physics of Living Cells (2008)
  • Michael and Kate Bárány Award for Young Investigators, Biophysical Society (2007)
  • Fellow, American Physical Society (2005)
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator (2005)
  • Japanese-American National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering Meeting, Invited Participant (2004)
  • Alfred P. Sloan Fellow (2003)
  • Xerox Faculty Research Award, UIUC (2003)
  • Beckman Fellow at Center for Advanced Studies, UIUC (2003)
  • Cottrell Scholar, Research Corporation (2003)
  • Fluorescence Young Investigator Award, Biophysical Society (2002)
  • NSF CAREER Award (2002)
  • German-American National Academy of Sciences Frontiers of Science Meeting Invited Participant (2002)
  • Searle Scholars Award (2001)
  • Research Innovation Award, Research Corporation (2001)
  • Outstanding Young Researcher Award, AKPA (2001)
  • Korean Government Scholarship (1992–1995)
  • Oversea Graduate Fellow, KFAS (1990–1996)
  • University Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley (1990)
  • Graduated with High Honors, Seoul National University (1990)
  • Undergraduate Fellow, KFAS (1987–1990)

Honors, Recognition, and Outstanding Achievements for Research:

  • Ho-Am Prize in Science, Ho-Am Foundation, Korea
  • Lecturer, 2010 Yunker Endowed Lecture Series, Oregon State University
  • 2008, Selected as co-director of the Center for the Physics of Living Cells, University of Illinois by the National Science Foundation
  • 2005, Selected as a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator