Joshua Moller, PhD’20, always liked to play with LEGO as a kid. While completing his PhD in molecular engineering at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) at the University of Chicago, Moller said he was able to apply that same sense of wonder and creativity toward research that was engaging at a fundamental level.
At Pritzker Molecular Engineering, Moller worked in a lab with Prof. Juan de Pablo, building molecular simulations of DNA and chromatin with a focus on modeling.
“Doing this sort of modeling, albeit in computers and not so much in the physical world like with LEGO, was really exciting,” he said.
Moller was also inspired by the innovative and interdisciplinary nature of PME, which, at the time he joined, was home to approximately 10 faculty members and 30 graduate students.
Although Moller’s background was in chemical engineering, he was drawn to the school’s problem-focused approach, where researchers synthesize different fields of research.
“I look forward to seeing how PME grows,” Moller said. “It doesn’t seem that there’s any slowing down right now.”
Now Moller is a data scientist at Evozyne, LLC, a synthetic biology company cofounded by Profs. Rama Ranganathan and Andrew Ferguson that builds novel, application-specific proteins. There, Moller continues his work on computationally driven models, but his focus has shifted.
“The work I’m doing now is actually much closer to the immunology side of things,” Moller explained. “Our models focus on machine learning and deep learning to do protein engineering.”
Moller’s experience at PME remains a vital resource in his professional career. In his work on statistics and data analysis for Evozyne, he recalls his work for the de Pablo Group.
“It’s different kinds of data,” he said, “but the thought process is similar. It’s something that I genuinely find interesting and exciting to work on every day.”