David Benson

David Benson


  • BA, Goshen College, 1990
  • PhD,University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Inorganic Chemistry, 1997

Professional History

  • Associate Professor of Chemistry, Calvin College, 2008-present
  • Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Wayne State University, 2001-2008
  • NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Duke University Medical Center, 1997-2001

Research and scholarship

Our research interests are focused on applying chemical rules to extend the function of proteins and nucleic acids.

One way is to attach nanometer-diameter semiconductors (quantum dots) to proteins, where protein-ligand interactions control the fluorescence intensity of the quantum dot. We are currently examining the fluorescence properties of single protein-quantum dot assemblies using fluorescence microscopy. Our ultimate goal o this work is to generate fluorescent sensors to detect fluxes of molecules within living cells.

A second interest is to introduce novel metal binding sites into proteins of known structure. This work has generated novel analytical tools [cytosolic Pb(2+) ion sensors] and enzyme mimics [superoxide dismutase]. We are currently refining the Pb(2+) ion sensor proteins for improved sensitivity and selectivity in biological media.

Detailed Research Plans


Undergraduate student names appear in bold.

(Total: 24 publications, 1039 citations. Independent Work: 12 publications, 100 citations).

Shete, V., Benson D.E. “Linking Metalloprotein Design with Semiconductor Nanoparticles for Imaging Pb2+ Ion Speciation in Red Blood Cells”, Biochemistry, 48, 2009; 462-470.

Swain, M.D., Octain, J., Benson, D.E.  “Unimolecular, Soluble Semiconductor Nanoparticle-Based Biosensors for Thrombin Using Charge/Electron Transfer.” Bioconjugate Chem., 19, 2008; 2520-2526.

Trisler, K., Looger, L.L., Sharma, V., Baker, M., Benson, D.E., Trauger, S., Schultz, P.G., Smider, V.V. “A Metalloantibody That Irreversibly Binds a Protein Antigen” J. Biol. Chem., 282, 2007; 26344-26353.

Aryal, B.P., Benson, D.E. “Polyhistidine Fusion Proteins Can Nucleate the Growth of CdSe Nanoparticles”, Bioconjugate Chem., 18, 2007; 585-589.


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