Mona Minkara

Assistant Professor,  Bioengineering
Affiliated Faculty,  Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Contact

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Office

  • 325 ISEC
  • 617.373.2031

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Research Focus

Using computational methods including Monte Carlo methods, molecular dynamics simulations, and molecular docking calculations to obtain a fundamental understanding of molecular interactions that occur at biological interfaces, such as the pulmonary surfactant system in the lungs

About

Dr. Mona Minkara is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering and an Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Northeastern where she heads the COMBINE (Computational Modeling for BioINterface Engineering) Lab.

Dr. Minkara’s research uses a variety of methods from computational chemistry that she has employed throughout her academic career. While pursuing her BA in Chemistry at Wellesley College, Dr. Minkara worked with Dr. Mala Radhankrishnan, where she used computational methods to explore the binding of drugs to HIV-1 Reverse Transcriptase. After completing her BA in 2009, Dr. Minkara spent a year conducting research at Wellesley under a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Grant. In 2010, she began her graduate studies at the University of Florida supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Under her co-advisors, Dr. Kenneth M. Merz Jr. and Dr. Erik Deumens, she focused on using molecular dynamics simulations to design a new inhibitor for Helicobacter pylori urease, an enzyme that helps bacteria survive in the stomach, and in 2015, she received her PhD in Chemistry. She then joined Dr. J. Ilja Siepmann’s lab as a post-doc at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Chemical Theory Center. In this role, Dr. Minkara used Monte Carlo simulations to explore the interfacial properties of surfactants, the surface tension of water, and the miscibility gap of supercritical fluids. In 2016, she was also awarded a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Dr. Minkara joined the Department of Bioengineering at Northeastern University in August of 2019 as a tenure-track Assistant Professor, and in November of 2019, she became an Affiliate Faculty of the Chemistry & Chemical Biology Department. Throughout her career, her work has led to numerous publications in high-impact journals, presentations, and posters at national and local conferences, and received several awards recognizing her achievements. Dr. Minkara is also an active member of the American Chemical Society where she serves on the Chemists with Disabilities committee and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, where she is a member of the Disabilities OutReach and Inclusion Community. Dr. Minkara is also one of the only blind professors in the field of Bioengineering, and she seeks to increase accessibility in STEM.

Dr. Minkara’s research at Northeastern focuses on using computational methods to study biological interfaces at the atomic and molecular scale. Currently, her research group uses molecular dynamics simulations, molecular docking calculations, homology modeling, and Monte Carlo simulations to investigate pulmonary surfactant, the complex protein-lipid substance that lines the alveoli in the lungs. Recently, the group has also been using their computational techniques to investigate the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

More information about Dr. Minkara is available on her personal website at https://www.monaminkara.com.

Education

  • PhD, Chemistry, University of Florida Gainesville, 2015
  • BA, Chemistry and Middle-Eastern Studies, Wellesley College, 2009

Professional Affiliations

  • American Chemical Society
  • ACS Chemists with Disabilities Committee
  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers
  • AIChE Disabilities OutReach and Inclusion Community
  • Biomedical Engineering Society
  • National Federation of the Blind

Research Overview

Using computational methods including Monte Carlo methods, molecular dynamics simulations, and molecular docking calculations to obtain a fundamental understanding of molecular interactions that occur at biological interfaces, such as the pulmonary surfactant system in the lungs

Using Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics simulations to obtain a deeper understanding of the chemical interactions that occur at biological interfaces and leverage that knowledge to engineering better treatments and drug delivery methodologies; development of new computational methods for improved molecular insights; design new tools for blind and low-vision scientists to make science more accessible and inclusive.

Selected Research Projects

  • Modeling and Computation for Discovery of Molecular Probes for SARS-CoV-2 Proteins
    • – Co-Principal Investigator, National Science Foundation

Department Research Areas

Selected Publications

  • M.S. Minkara, R.H. Hembree, S.N. Jamadagni, A.F. Ghobadi, D.M. Eike, J.I. Siepmann, A New Equation of State for Homo-Polymers in Dissipative Particle Dynamics, The Journal of Chemical Physics, 150, 2019, 124104
  • T.R. Josephson, R. Singh, M.S. Minkara, E.O. Fetisov, Siepmann, Partial Molar Properties From Molecular Simulation Using Multiple Linear Regression, Molecular Physics, 117, 2019, 3589-3602
  • M.S Minkara, T. Josephson, C.L. Venteicher, J.L. Chen, D.J. Stein, C.J. Peters, J.I. Siepmann, Monte Carlo Simulations Probing the Liquid/Vapour Interface of Water/Hexane Mixtures: Adsorption Thermodynamics, Hydrophobic Effect, and Structural Analysis, Molecular Physics, 116, 2018, 3283-3291
  • M.S. Minkara, R.K. Lindsey, R.H. Hembree, C.L. Venteicher, S.N. Jamadagni, D.M. Eike, A.F. Ghobadi, P.H. Koenig, J.L. Siepmann, Probing Additive Loading in the Lamellar Phase of a Nonionic Surfactant: Gibbs Ensemble Monte Carlo Simulations using the SDK Force Field, Langmuir, 34(28), 2018, 8245-8254
  • L. Macomber, M.S. Minkara, R.P. Hausinger, K.M. Merz Jr. Reduction of Urease Activity by Interaction with the Flap Covering the Active Site, Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling, 55(2), 2015, 354-361

Faculty

May 20, 2020

REU Award for Modeling SARS-CoV-2 Proteins

BioE Affiliated Faculty Mary Jo Ondrechen, Assistant Professor Mona Minkara, and COS Assistant Professor Steven Lopez were awarded a $73K NSF RAPID grant for “Undergraduate Research in Modeling and Computation for Discovery of Molecular Probes for SARS-CoV-2 Proteins.”

mona minkara

In the Media

Mar 11, 2020

Professor Mona Minkara’s interactive classroom requires no sight

BioE Assistant Professor Mona Minkara was featured in The Huntington News article “Professor Mona Minkara’s interactive classroom requires no sight” for the challenges and successes she has had after being diagnosed with macular degeneration and cone-rod dystrophy.

Jan 27, 2020

Spring 2020 PEAK Experiences Awardees

Congratulations to the COE student recipients of the Spring 2020 PEAK Experiences Awards. The PEAK Experiences Awards are a progressively structured sequence of opportunities designed to support learners as they continue climbing to new heights of achievement in undergraduate research and creative endeavor throughout their Northeastern journeys. BASE CAMP AWARDS Developing HPLC Methods for Characterizing […]

mona minkara

Faculty

Nov 13, 2019

Approaching Research From a Different Perspective

BioE Assistant Professor Mona Minkara, who has been blind since she was seven, has learned to approach research from different angles which is helping her determine how vaping affects lung function.

Faculty

Aug 29, 2019

New Faculty Spotlight: Mona Minkara

Mona Minkara joins the Bioengineering department in August 2019 as an Assistant Professor.

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