MolSSI Software Fellow: Matthew Chan

Matthew Chan, a 2021-A Seed Software Fellow, is currently a chemical and biomolecular engineering graduate student in Prof. Diwaker Shukla’s research group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Under MolSSI support, Matthew worked with MolSSI Software Scientists Dr. Doaa Altarawy and Dr. Sina Mostafanejad to create a model using transfer learning that can decode the sequence, structure, and function of any protein.

How did you first become interested in molecular science?

My undergraduate research experiences in biophysical chemistry first sparked my interests in molecular sciences. Since learning how to use biophysical techniques to probe protein function, I became fascinated in how nature tunes these intricate molecular machines and ultimately led me to pursue my doctoral research in computational biophysics.

How are you benefitting from being a MolSSI Software Fellow?

From the Best Practices bootcamp, to helping out with educational workshops, and the mentorship from the MolSSI scientists, the MolSSI Software Fellowship has shaped my doctoral studies and my future directions in continuing my research in computational and biomolecular sciences.

Describe your engagement with your MolSSI Software Scientist mentor.

My mentors, Doaa Altarawy and Sina Mostafanejad, have been instrumental throughout the development of my project. Their expertise propelled my project from just an idea on paper to determining the model architecture, fine tuning parameters, and ultimately obtaining a working model. Furthermore, our discussions provided the necessary insights not only for my project specifically, but for the fields of molecular sciences and machine learning in general. In doing so, I feel prepared to continue my project and research in this dynamic field.

Do you have any skills or talents that most people would not know about?

I’m still working on perfecting my pasta-making skills, but nonetheless, the outcomes have been very tasty.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Either getting accepted into a graduate program or having my scientific artwork showcased around my university and local airport.

What are you happiest doing when you’re not working?

Spending time with friends through food, badminton, and skiing.

What’s a goal you have for yourself that you’d like to accomplish in the next year or two?

I want to complete my Ph.D., contribute to science with my publications, and pursue a postdoc to continue research in biomolecular sciences and engineering.

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