Originally from Colombia, Professor Vanegas received degrees in Physics (B.S., '05) and Biochemistry and Biophysics (M.S., '07) from Oregon State. He obtained his Ph.D. in Biophysics from the University of California, Davis, where he studied the effects of alcohol on model yeast biomembranes. Vanegas was a postdoctoral researcher at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain for two years working with Professor Marino Arroyo on the mechanics of membranes and mechanosensitive proteins. He continued his post-doctoral training in the theoretical chemistry group of Dr. Susan Rempe at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Vanegas joined the Department of Physics at the University of Vermont in 2016 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 2022. He joined the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the Fall of 2022.
The Vanegas laboratory combines techniques from molecular simulation, continuum mechanics, and quantum chemistry to understand how molecular structure modulates the activation of mechanosensitive proteins and determines the mechanical response of lipid membranes. Our group is highly interdisciplinary working at the interface between biology, physics, chemistry, and engineering. The central focus of our research is to provide mechanistic insights into essential biological processes such as membrane fission and fusion, organelle and cellular shaping, touch and pain sensing, cardiovascular control and development, and osmotic regulation among others. We work closely with other laboratories to integrate our modelling efforts with experimental results. We develop state-of-the-art molecular simulation methods to capture the mechanical properties of biomolecules through local stress/elasticity calculations and steered molecular dynamics (MD) methods to rapidly and systematically explore the structure and energetics of mechanically-driven transitions.
Ph.D., Biophysics, University of California, Davis (2011)
M.S., Biochemistry and Biophysics, Oregon State University (2007)
B.S., Physics, Oregon State University (2005)
- NSF CAREER Award 2020-2025 (CHE-1944892)