Mathematics Student Finds New Ways of Approaching His Protein Research


Stanley Nicholson


Stanley Nicholson (MATH ’23): I chose Illinois Tech because of the just huge amount of research and academic opportunities that I capitalized on. I had been choosing between IIT and a state school and it really felt to me that I would email a professor at IIT and they'd respond in a day. That kind of very personalized environment that IIT offered really was—was a big draw to me, as well as living in a great city like Chicago.

My research is revolving around how do we identify regions and proteins that move together and how do we predict those motions based purely off of simulation. So, we simulate a protein on the computer and we try extracting some of the key modes of motion of the protein to predict how the protein will move in the future to solve bigger issues of drug binding and other problems related to opioids, for example. This research matters because proteins and dysfunctions in proteins are practically the core of most diseases. Understanding proteins then would help us understand these diseases.

I see a very similar story with the arts, chess, music—they all come together in a very interesting way where you always have a lot of similar and analogous ideas of chaos versus order. How do you balance on a board? Being very sporadic, very aggressive, perhaps having that chaotic nature versus a very ordered, very defensive position.

Illinois Tech has given me a great deal of that mathematical training, but also that way of approaching scientific problems. Illinois Tech has provided just this way of thinking, this independence as a researcher and this motivated attitude towards research—the greatest benefit I've gotten from Illinois Tech.