UAPB professor receives $50k grant from NIH

Walker

Walker

Dr. Karl Walker, assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) received a grant for $53,291 from the National Institute for General Medical Sciences, a funding agency of the National Institute of Health. The grant will fund his research project “Context- Dependent Dihedral Angle Sampling with Protein Folding Simulations.”

The goal of this research is to advance knowledge of the relationship between the unique sequence of amino acids in a protein and its three-dimensional structure. Proteins perform many vital functions within cells, and as a result the malfunction of a protein or network of proteins has been implicated in many human diseases.  Modeling protein structures provides some understanding about the mechanism of their function or in some cases their malfunction.  Understanding the mechanism of a protein’s function enables the development of drugs or other therapeutic molecules. This research seeks to create new tools to closely examine protein structures determined by experimental methods in relation to their amino acid sequences.

In his capacity assistant professor at UAPB, Dr. Walker teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in computer science, mathematics, and bioinformatics. In addition, he engages in bioinformatics research at UAPB, some of which is done in collaboration with other Arkansas institutions.

Dr. Walker has a persistent desire to investigate, learn, and share his knowledge with others. His bioinformatics research interests lie in protein structure prediction with emphasis on improving the accuracy of prediction. Dr. Walker’s lab develops models and tools for analyzing structural genomics and proteomics data. He has also collaborated on bioinformatics research projects with researchers at the Arkansas Biosciences Institute at ASU and the UAMS Myeloma Institute. He has published articles and delivered a number of presentations related to his research.

Dr. Walker earned both an MS and Ph.D. in bioinformatics from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). He is a 2002 honors graduate of Morehouse College and a 1998 graduate of Pine Bluff High School. Dr. Walker has had many other educational and enriching experiences during his lifetime. These include student internship experiences at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Ames Research Center. He also worked in private industry in Little Rock, prior to pursuing advanced degrees at UALR and UAMS.

A few of Dr. Walker’s most notable honors and awards include SREB Doctoral Scholars Fellowship, Outstanding M.S. Graduate for UALR College of Engineering and Information Technology, Outstanding Bioinformatics Masters Student in the UALR/UAMS Bioinformatics Program, and first-place award for oral presentation at the 2014 MCBIOS Conference. Additionally, he has been featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Atlantic.

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