Title: Research associate in the laboratory of Professor
Activities: Using computational chemistry software
to perform quantum mechanical calculations and molecular dynamics
simulations, then analyzing the results. "I enjoy comparing
the results to experimental data. This often validates what
we are doing and can suggest new directions for experiments."
Research Topics: Rev protein-RRE (RNA) interaction
(crucial in the replication cycle of HIV-1) and the free energy
of this binding. The proposed mechanism of a penicillin-like
drug in a metallo-beta-lactamase (beta-lactamases are responsible
for antibiotic resistance). Structure and electronic calculations
of 4Fe-4S clusters in the active sites of proteins. The quantum
mechanical investigation of magnesium ion-mediated catalysis
in the hammerhead ribozyme.
Favorite Part of Job: "I like the variety of projects
in the lab; it's a great opportunity to learn new things.
If you have questions about certain techniques or experiments,
you can walk down the hall or across campus to discuss them
with people who are experts in that field."
Background: B.S. from the University of Nevada, Las
Vegas. Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
"I started my Ph.D. work in synthetic organic chemistry. My
advisor, T.C. Bruice, wanted his students to have computational
projects as well. I found I really enjoyed the computational
projects, so I changed my emphasis."
Started at TSRI: 2000
Thoughts on TSRI: "This is a fantastic place for computational
chemistry because there are so many world-class scientists
here to work with. TSRI has a unique and intellectually stimulating
Career goal: A job in industry. Professional Organizations:
Association for Women in Science, American Chemical Society.
"They both have pretty active San Diego chapters."
Thoughts on San Diego: "The people are friendly. The
weather is great. The coast is beautiful. I like everything
except the housing prices."
Extracurriculars: Volunteer work with ScrippsAssists,
maintaining trails at Torrey Pines State Reserve and Mission
Trails Park, doing yard work for senior citizens, and helping
out with the annual Senior Basket Project. "[Volunteering]
offers a great opportunity to meet people from both Scripps
and the community." Torres also hikes and takes photographs.
"[TSRI] is a fantastic place for computational chemistry because
there are so many world-class scientists here to work with,"
says Research Associate Rhonda Torres. Photo
by Kevin Fung.
As part of her work in the laboratory
of Professor David Case, Torres calculates transition states
(TSs) corresponding to molecular events. Here, she shows the
normal mode corresponding to TS1 in the Mg(II)-mediated phosphodiester
hydrolysis [Torres et al. (2003) J. Am. Chem. Soc.,
125, 9861-9867.] Click
to play movie