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Sibel Ebru Yalcin, PhD

Research Scientist

Biography

Dr. Yalcin is a physicist & spectroscopist who specializes in biological imaging. During her postdoc, she developed a new multimodal imaging capability. Through this capability she performed multimodal chemical and functional imaging of biological molecules and geochemically important minerals under their physiologically relevant conditions such as pH and humidity. Using multimodal nanoscopy she correlated structure of the microbial nanowires with their functions that led to the discoveries of the identity of the proteins that make the conductive "Geobacter" OmcS nanowires (Cell, 2019) and electric field stimulated production of 1000 times more conductive OmcZ nanowires (Nature Chemical Biology, 2020). Discovery of cytochrome OmcZ nanowires explains the mystery of high biofilm conductivity scientists observed even in the absence of cytochrome OmcS! Highlights to this work can be found at Nature Chemical Biology News and Views article, LiveScience, YaleNews, Yale Scientific and Yale's Microbial Sciences Institute. The team also solved the mystery of electron transfer mechanism in OmcS nanowires (Science Advances, 2022). Additionally, Dr. Yalcin was part of the team that worked on solving the structure of Geobacter pili that revealed secretory rather than nanowire behavior (Nature, 2021). Highlights to this work can be found at Proteopedia, YaleNews & EurekAlert!. Dr. Yalcin also designed, developed and carried out the first photoconductivity measurements on individual OmcS nanowires using Photoconductive Atomic Force Microscopy (pc-AFM) (Nature Communications, 2022). Reviewers called her nanoscale measurements “very innovative approach and brilliantly combined with bulk measurements”. In her work she showed that individual nanowires can have up to 100-fold increase in conductance upon photoexcitation suggesting that these protein nanowires can serve as intrinsic photoconductors. Highlight to this work can be found at EurekAlert! and Phys.Org.

In addition to working on naturally produced conductive microbial nanowires, Dr. Yalcin also worked with a team that engineered conductivity to bacterial filaments. The team's work laid the foundation of how to turn nonconductive E-coli pili into bionanowires using non-natural amino acids with click chemistry functionality, a method not accessible in nature and only accessible through chemical based synthesis. In this work, the team demonstrated sequence-defined production of highly-conductive protein nanowires and hybrid organic-inorganic biomaterials with genetically-programmable electronic functionalities (Nature Communications, 2022).

Other than biological systems, Dr. Yalcin performed the first Nanoscale Chemical Imaging on reactive minerals (Gibbsite, Lepidocrocite) through their water binding chemistry. Her discoveries are critical to understand how mineral morphology and the defect sites affect the water growth over the mineral surface (Science Advances, 2020). Highlights to this work can be found at Yale West Campus, Yale's Microbial Sciences Institute, Yale's MB&B News and Umea University.

Dr. Yalcin has considerable experiences in Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Nanoscale Near-field Imaging of many low dimensional systems. She was part of user facility (Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies) at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) where she built single molecule spectroscopy setup to study Carbon Nanotubes (Nanoscale, 2015) working with Steve Doorn and other low dimension materials such as Graphene Oxide (ACS Nano, 2015), MoS2 (Nature Materials, 2014) working with Manish Chhowalla. At University of Massachusetts Amherst, Dr. Yalcin has developed an Electrostatic Force Microscopy (EFM) based imaging method that has enabled the first visualization of electron transport in individual bacterial protein nanowires under biologically relevant conditions (Nature Nanotechnology, 2014) working with Nikhil Malvankar.

Dr. Yalcin holds a research faculty position at Yale’s Department of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry and Microbial Sciences Institute. She leads the effort of nanoscale functional imaging research to understand structural, physical and biochemical components and pathways involved in biological electron transfer. She is interested in understanding at nanoscopic level how bacteria interact with soil minerals to perform extracellular electron transfer for their respiration. She has PhD in Physics, and extensive experience in Biochemistry, Geochemistry and Microbiology. Dr. Yalcin is also a mother of a toddler boy. She has given many invited talks about the difficulties women scientists experience on how to achieve a work-life balance. Her passion is to inspire young female scientists who aspire to do impactful research and also have a family and kids.

Education & Training

  • Post-Doctoral Researcher
    Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) (2017)
  • Post-Doctoral Researcher
    Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), 2014 (2014)
  • PhD
    University of Massachusetts Amherst, Physics (2010)

Activities

  • Yale’s CIRTL Associate Certificate for College Teaching Preparation (CCTP)
    New Haven, United States (2022-2023)
  • New England Future Faculty Workshop
    Northeastern University in partnership with Harvard Medical School 2022
  • Microbiology Girl Club
    Inspiring/Mentoring Future STEM Scientists 2022
  • University of Chicago Future Faculty Symposium
    Invited to give Seminar 2022
  • Invited Talk to Brookhaven National Laboratory
    Designing Microbial Protein Nanowires for Long Range Electron Transfer 2022
  • Invited Talk at Stony Brook University
    Stony Brook, United States 2019
  • High Resolution Imaging/Microscopy Workshop
    Munich, Germany 2019
  • American Physical Society March Meeting 2019
    Boston, United States 2019
  • Materials Research Society Fall Meeting 2018
    Boston, United States 2018
  • Seminar at Arizona State University
    Tempe, United States 2018
  • Seminar at Rutgers University
    Newark, United States 2018
  • Seminar at Pittsburgh Quantum Institute
    Pittsburgh, United States 2018
  • Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry Retreat 2018
    Falmouth, United States 2018
  • American Physical Society March Meeting 2018
    Los Angeles, United States 2018
  • Yale University-Microbial Sciences Institute
    West Haven, United States 2017

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
Alan Alda Center’s Women in STEM Leadership ProgramAlan Alda Center2022
Laura Bassi Scholarship for Junior Academics, 2022/2023Editing Press2022
Nominated by Yale for Blavatnik Regional Awards of 2022Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists2022
NSF's Materials Innovation Platforms (MIP), Represented Yale Team at the NSF Site Visit, $20M/5 years,"Using Biology to Make Multifunctional Biomaterials"Yale University2019
DOE BER BEST Proposal Award, $3M/3 years, Earth & Biological Science Directorate. "Integrated Multimodal Nanoscale Chemical Imaging of Intra- and Inter-Cellular Biomolecules Involved in Microbial Interactions"Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, PNNL2016
Outsanding Achievement AwardLos Alamos National Laboratory, LANL2014
Best Poster AwardLos Alamos National Laboratory, LANL2013
University of Massachusetts Amherst, Conference Travel GrantDepartment of Physics2009