How do molecules come together and start to behave like a living system? This is the type of question that drives Garegin Papoian’s research. At the University of Maryland, where he is the Monroe Martin Professor, he has been focusing on computational modeling of biological molecules like proteins and DNA. With the support of an Amazon Research Award, Papoian’s team is deciphering the dynamics of intrinsically disordered proteins and working toward developing fundamental molecular models of the whole cell, a concept still in its infancy.
Growing up in Armenia, then a part of the Soviet Union, Papoian went to a special school of physics and mathematics, where he was introduced to Science Olympiads, winning the first place in the Republic of Armenia in chemistry, physics, mathematics and biology. “Science Olympiads were a big reason why I got drawn into science, in particular to chemistry and physics”, he says.