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RAP opportunity at Air Force Science and Technology Fellowship Program     AF STFP

Early Consequences of Laser-tissue Interaction at the Atomistic and Molecular Level using Ultrafast Methods


711th Human Performance Wing, RHD/Bioeffects Group

opportunity location
13.15.10.C0040 Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234


name email phone
Michael Lee Denton (210) 539-8069


The primary objective of this research is to investigate the immediate impact of optical radiation on metabolically important biomolecules in cells. Mechanisms of interest include photobiomodulation using low level VIS/NIR irradiation, photo-oxidation via blue/short green light, and photothermal damage pathways. Research will utilize biophysical methods, such as UV/VIS transient absorption and 2D-IR spectroscopy using state-of-the-art sub-100 femtosecond (fs) pulsed laser systems, to identify initial chromophores and subcellular localizations responsible for relevant photochemical and photothermal phenomena. Relevant biological systems include cultured mammalian cells, isolated organelles (e.g., mitochondria), and purified proteins (e.g., respiratory chain supercomplexes). Our group collaborates with other laboratories within AFRL, as well as with those at prominent universities to develop innovative methods and approaches to discover novel laser bioeffects. The laboratory offers extensive laser facilities and support equipment, including Light Conversion’s TOPAS Twins, Ultrafast Systems’ Helios Fire, regenerative amplified fs laser systems, FLIR thermal cameras, picosecond streak cameras, and core computational facilities. Using experimental biophysics and molecular dynamic modeling, the Optical Radiation Branch will be in a position to define game changing capabilities for protection from, and using, directed energy on the modern battlefield.


O’Connor, S.P., Powell, S.M., Rickman, J.M., Pope, N.J., Noojin, G.D., Scully, M.O., Denton, M.L., Yakovlev, V.V., Mammalian complex III heme dynamics studied with pump-probe spectroscopy and red light illuminations, Biomed. Opt. Express, 2021, 12(11), 7082-7091.

O’Connor, S.P., S.M. Powell, J.M. Rickman, N.J. Pope, G.D. Noojin, M.O. Scully, M.L. Denton, V.V. Yakovlev, 2021, Transient absorption spectroscopy to explore cellular pathways to photobiomodulation, J. Photochem. Photobiol. B, Biology 222,112271.

Pope, N.J., S.M. Powell, J.C. Wigle, M.L. Denton, 2020, Wavelength- and irradiance-dependent changes in intracellular nitric oxide level, J. Biomed. Opt. 24(6), 065002.

Lalonde, J.W., G.D. Noojin, N.J. Pope, S.M. Powell, V.V. Yakovlev, M.L. Denton, 2021, Continuous assessment of metabolic activity of mitochondria using resonance Raman microspectroscopy, J. Bio. 14(4), e202000384, DOI: 10.1002/jbio.202000384

key words
Laser bioeffects; Spectroscopy; Biochemistry; Physical chemistry; Light-induced conformational change; Photochemistry; Dynamic protein structure; Molecular dynamics; Mammalian cells;


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral and Senior applicants


Base Stipend Travel Allotment Supplementation
$95,000.00 $5,000.00

Experience Supplement:
Postdoctoral and Senior Associates will receive an appropriately higher stipend based on the number of years of experience past their PhD.

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