Julius B. Lucks is assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Cornell University, and a James C. and Rebecca Q. Morgan Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow. After attending the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics for high school, he became an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he performed research in organic synthesis and the application of density functional theory to studying the electronic properties of atoms and molecules as a Goldwater Scholar. After graduating with a BS in chemistry, he spent a summer working with Robert Parr before obtaining an MPhil in theoretical chemistry at Cambridge University as a Churchill Scholar. As a Hertz Fellow at Harvard University, he researched problems in theoretical biophysics including RNA folding & translocation, and viral capsid structure & viral genome organization, under David R. Nelson. As a Miller Fellow at UC Berkeley in the laboratory of Adam P. Arkin, he engineered versatile RNA-sensing transcriptional regulators that can be easily reconfigured to independently regulate multiple genes, logically control gene expression, and propagate signals as RNA molecules in gene networks. He also lead the team that developed SHAPE-Seq, an experimental technique that utilizes next generation sequencing for probing RNA secondary and tertiary structures of hundreds of RNAs in a single experiment.
Professor Lucks's research combines both experiment and theory to ask fundamental questions about the design principles that govern how RNAs fold and function in living organisms, and how these principles can be used to engineer biomolecular systems, and open doors to new medical therapeutics. For his pioneering research efforts, he has been named a DARPA Young Faculty Awardee, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow, an ONR Young Investigator, an NIH New Innovator, and has been named an NSF CAREER awardee.