Susan Daniel received her PhD from Lehigh University in the Department of Chemical Engineering (2005). She specialized in the area of surface science, studying the effect of surface wettability gradients on the motion of liquid droplets when they coalesce with other droplets or are subjected to vibration. In 2005, Dr. Daniel joined Texas A&M University, Department of Chemistry, as a Postdoctoral Associate. There she expanded her expertise to the area of biological surface science. Specifically, Dr. Daniel used solid-supported lipid bilayers as mimics of the cell membrane for the development of biosensors and microfluidic assays for interrogating biological phenomena. In 2007, Dr. Daniel joined Cornell University as an Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. The general theme of her research group is the study of transport and dynamics at biological interfaces.
Research in the Daniel group focuses on transport and dynamics at biological interfaces and surfaces. We are primarily interested in understanding the roles of membrane lipids and protein-lipid interactions on biological function. Our research can be divided into two more specific themes: 1) the study membrane fusion, and in particular, the virus infection process, and 2) the investigation of membrane organization, function, and the identification of critical lipid-protein interactions necessary for biological utility. Our group developed single particle assays to study the fusion of influenza and other membrane- enveloped viruses to model membranes. We use our in vitro devices to study the mechanism and the kinetics of the fusion process. Influenza is a membrane-enveloped virus that infects cells through the endocyotic pathway, which necessitates the merging of the viral membrane with the endosomal membrane of the cell to deliver its genome to the cytosol. In nature the membrane fusion process is triggered by the natural acidification of the endosome. At a certain pH value the fusion proteins within the viral membrane undergo a significant conformational virus fusion on the millisecond timescale through the incorporation of a photolabile compound that donates a proton rapidly and locally only when irradiated with light of a specific wavelength. This advance allows us to study the kinetics of fusion at a very high temporal and spatial resolution. A second research area in our group is fundamental studies of the cell membrane organization and the identification of critical lipid-protein interactions for biological function. Current methods to determine the impact and necessity of specific protein-lipid interactions on protein activity and function are fraught with difficulties. We have developed assays to separate and sort membrane species based on their intrinsic preferences for different membrane environments and how this preference changes after being subjected to various stimuli. We use these assays to interrogate the dependence of protein activity on the local lipid environment and to answer questions about cell membrane organization.
Dr. Daniel teaches a sophomore-level course, ENGDR 2190: Mass and Energy Balances, in the fall semester. In the spring semester, she teaches a graduate level course, CHEME 7130: Physical and Chemical Kinetics. In addition, she also teaches a graduate level course, CHEME 7920: Principles and Practices of Graduate Research.
- 2012. "Influenza Virus-Membrane Fusion Triggered by Proton Uncaging for Single Particle Studies of Fusion Kinetics." Analytical Chemistry 84 (20): 8480-8489. .
- 2012. "Drop Motion Induced by Repeated Stretching and Relaxation on a Gradient Surface with Hysteresis." Langmuir 28 (39): 13912-13918. .
- 2012. "Influenza Virus-Membrane Fusion Triggered by Proton Uncaging for Single Particle Studies of Fusion Kinetics." Analytical Chemistry 84: 8480-8489. .
- 2012. "Influenza Virus-Mediated Membrane Fusion: Determinants of Hemagglutinin Fusogenic Activity and Experimental Approaches for Assessing Virus Fusion." Viruses 4: 1144-1168. .
- 2012. "Ratcheting Motion of Sessile Droplets Induced by Shape Deformation on Surface Energy Gradients." Langmuir 28: 13912-13918. .
Selected Awards and Honors
- Presidential Scholar (Lehigh University) 2000
- Selected as top Ph.D. student to present work and the Chemical Engineering Colloquium at Lehigh University (Lehigh University) 2004
- NSF Bridge Award (National Science Foundation) 2008
- Recipient of President's Council of Cornell Women Affinito-Stewart Award 2009
- 2011 ASEE Outstanding Teaching Award, St. Lawrence Section (American Society for Engineering Education) 2011
- BS (Chemical Engineering), Lehigh University, 1999
- MS (Chemical Engineering), Lehigh University, 2001
- Ph D (Chemical Engineering), Lehigh University, 2005