Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Professor Catherine Royer will be honored as a 2023 Society Fellow of the Biophysical Society. Royer is a Chaired Constellation Professor in Biocomputation and Bioinformatics; professor of biological sciences, and chemistry and chemical biology; and director of the graduate program in biochemistry and physics.

“This means a lot to me,” said Royer. “I am a past president of the Biophysical Society and I’ve been a member since 1982.”

The Biophysical Society, founded in 1958, is a professional, scientific society established to lead development and dissemination of knowledge in biophysics. Royer is one of seven fellows to be honored at the Biophysical Society’s 67th Annual in San Diego, California, from February 18-22, 2023.

Royer is being recognized for her “fundamental contributions to the understanding and exploitation of pressure effects on protein conformation, and the biophysical mechanisms underlying transcriptional control of cell state transitions.”

Protein conformation refers to the complex arrangement of long chains of joined amino acids that make up proteins, and high pressure can affect their preferred shape and sometimes destroy the native structure. Cells respond to these and other internal and external signals that trigger changes over time. Royer summarizes her research as exploring the molecular mechanisms of biological regulation.

“I am working to understand the shape of proteins and how their shape is related to their function,” Royer said. “I also quantify the proteins inside of cells by building mathematical models. I like to see how they adapt to adverse conditions. A fundamental question I’m working toward answering is, how do cells know when they’re big enough to divide?”

“I’m thrilled that Professor Royer is being awarded this distinguished honor in recognition of her pioneering work in linking protein structures with their functions,” said Professor Curt Breneman, Dean of the Rensselaer School of Science.  “I look forward to her next discoveries in the field of high-pressure biochemistry.”

Royer has been with Rensselaer since 2013. Previously, she served as director of the Center for Structural Biochemistry in Montpellier, France; associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and user coordinator and research physicist at the Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics at the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign.

Royer earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and carried out postdoctoral studies at the University of Paris 7, the CNRS at Gif-sur-Yvette, and at LURE. She received her bachelor’s (Licence) degree in biochemistry and chemistry from the University of Pierre and Marie Curie - Paris 6.