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National Biomedical Center
for Advanced Electron Spin Resonance Technology

Our research is supported by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), part of the National Institutes of Health.


last update:   June 20, 2017

Prof. Emeritus Jack H. Freed
Director & Principal Investigator


Prof. Freed is the Frank and Robert Laughlin Professor of Physical Chemistry, Emeritus, and has been on the Cornell faculty since 1963. He is a world leader in the ESR field and has received many national and international awards for his work in this field. Under his leadership, the laboratory has pioneered many of the theoretical and instrumental technologies that serve as the basis for the Center. He provides the overall direction of the Center and actively participates in all facets of its scientific programs, and its administration.

Petr P. Borbat
Senior Research Associate
Associate Director



Dr. Borbat joined the Freed Research Group at Cornell, in 1995. His research interests are centered at pulsed ESR, in particular at the development of Multiple-quantum coherence ESR spectroscopy and related techniques relevant to distance measurements in biological applications, and the development of 2D-FT ESR and its applications to study molecular dynamics, including transient phenomena. He manages Center activity in distance measurements in biological systems and in two-dimensional FT ESR. He is also leading the development of unique pulsed ESR instrumentation of the Center.

Curt R. Dunnam
Director of Operations
Engineering Physics


Mr. Dunnam is presently Director of Operations for the ACERT National ESR Center and Senior Electronics Engineer for the Freed Research Group. His areas of professional expertise are EM physics, electrical engineering and business management. He joined the Freed Research Group in 1995, after 17 years with the Laboratory for Elementary Particle Physics (formerly LNS), Cornell, employed as an engineering physicist and electrical engineer. Mr. Dunnam has authored and co-authored several papers on particle accelerator instrumentation and beam diagnostics, ESR spectrometry and imaging, and rapid signal acquisition and processing. He also holds 5 U.S. patents relative to microwave and magnetic field instrumentation. Mr. Dunnam's primary research and development responsibilities at ACERT are centered on instrumentation for c.w. and pulsed millimeter-wave ESR spectrometry and high-resolution ESR microimaging.

Boris Dzikovski
Senior Research Associate


Dr. Dzikovski joined ACERT in 2002. His profound background in chemistry, chemical physics and ESR spectroscopy has allowed him to play a leading role in educating and providing ACERT users with the information and skills needed to fully benefit from the Center's vast experimentel resources. He is an expert in spin-labeling and tailoring sample preparation to specific needs. While at ACERT he developed important experimental techniques, e.g. the microtome sample preparation technique for studying the orientation dependence of lossy samples at High Field and plays an important role in the practical aspects of optimizing the use of novel experimental methods in High Field and Pulse ESR as well as high-resolution ESR microimaging.

Zhichun Liang
Senior Research Associate


Dr. Liang is expert on our extensive simulation and non-linear least squares computational packages that are used to analyze our 2D-FT-ESR and multi-frequency experiments. He has had extensive theoretical experience in the application of the stochastic Liouville equation to slow-motional ESR studies. In particular, he developed the current multifrequency version of the sophisticated slowly-relaxing local structure (SRLS) model, that is appropriate for biological systems, and he successfully applied them to our studies of the dynamics of T4 lysozyme and of DNA oligomers. He has also developed other advanced software, including (i) the inclusion of finite pulses into the analysis of 2D-FT-ESR spectra in the slow motional regime, (ii) the adaptation of the SRLS model to NMR relaxation studies of proteins, (iii) chemical exchange: the SRLS program, and (iv) parallelization of our slow-motional ESR programs.

John Franck
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Chemistry
Syracuse University


John Franck joined ACERT in 2013. He is researching new multidimensional ESR techniques. This includes new pulse sequences to further explore the interplay between the solvent dynamics and biomolecular function, as well as new microwave resonator designs that will facilitate the analysis of room-temperature aqueous samples. Before coming to ACERT, John worked on designing shaped rf pulses for NMR that performed complicated spatial manipulation of spins, and then developed new methodologies for liquid-state dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) that he used to probe the hydration dynamics at the surfaces and interfaces of biomacromolecules. In the fall of 2016 Dr. Franck accepted a tenure-track faculty appointment at Syracuse University. He remains a valued collaborator with ACERT.

Elka Radoslavova Georgieva
Instructor, Dept. of Physiology & Biophysics
Weill-Cornell Medical College


Dr. Georgieva's focus has been on the Structure of Proteins and Protein Complexes by Pulse Dipolar ESR, with projects on the DEER study of alpha-Synuclein membrane-bound conformation, including Parkinson's disease mutants. Dr. Georgieva's extensive experience includes biochemical techniques including protein mutagenesis and all stages of soluble and membrane protein recombinant expression, purification, assaying, spin-labeling and reconstituting them into suitable systems, including liposomes, bicelles, and nanodiscs. She has the responsibility for protein sample preparation and carrying out distance measurements and data processing for service requests, as well as for several of the center's key biomedical collaborations. Her responsibilities also include developing sample preparation and spin-labeling protocols for high-throughput pulse dipolar spectroscopy and developing practical experience in using new types of PDS probeheads. In the spring of 2016 she accepted a faculty position at Weill-Cornell Medical College in New York City. She continues to be a valued collaborator with ACERT (see URL-FOR-PUBLICATION-ARCHIVES for recent publications), and she will continue her research activities with ACERT, Cornell-Ithaca.

Alex L. Lai
Research Associate


Dr. Lai joined ACERT in 2012. His focus is on biomedical applications of ESR. Dr. Lai's experience includes cellular biology, biochemistry, biophysics and structural biology. He is an expert on membrane protein expression, purification, reconstitution and characterization using DLS, SLS, FTIR, CD, DSC and ITC, as well as membrane protein structural determination and dynamics using NMR and ESR. Prior to joining ACERT, Dr. Lai had been doing research on various membrane fusion systems for a long time. Dr. Lai currently extents his researches on interaction between interfacial peptides and lipid bilayers in membrane fusion systems using advanced High Field CW and Pulse ESR techniques. Dr. Lai also works on distance measurement using Pulse Dipolar ESR.

Galina Petkova
Visiting Scientist


Dr. Petkova joined ACERT at the beginning of summer 2016, from the Institute of Molecular Biology of the Bulgarian Academy of Science, Sofia. In her past work, she has among other accomplishments developed biosensors for the rapid detection of the pathogen Salmonella enteritidis, and collaborated in studying the switch of alcohol dehydrogenase stereoselectivity by its immobilization onto cyclodextrites and functionalized nanoparticles, as well as the effectiveness of porous polymer-clay nanoparticles in modulating drug targets. At ACERT she is taking part in a variety of projects relating to protein-membrane interactions.

Art Samplaski
Administrative Manager



Dr. Art Samplaski joined ACERT in 2015. He provides administrative support for the group, including manuscript/grant submissions, editing, purchasing, and travel/event logistics; and he serves as point of contact for internal and external scientists, collaborators, and visitors. An independent music cognition researcher, he brings to ACERT an extremely diverse educational and professional background, with extensive experience in event coordination, office management, editing for non-native English speakers, and science public outreach, including helping to run public viewing at Cornell's Fuertes Observatory since August 2005.

Diane Patzer



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