Principal Investigator

Matt Comstock

Matthew Comstock

Assistant Professor of Physics and Cowen Chair of Experimental Physics

Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, Physics

A.B. The University of Chicago, Physics

Email: comstock at

Matt has had a broad and diverse scientific career. He began as a summer high school lab assistant in a plant virology lab (with Les Lane) and then a non-linear optics lab (with Stephen Ducharme) both at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. As an undergrad at Chicago he investigated anti-matter in the cosmos in the high-energy astrophysics groups of Dietrich Mueller and Simon Swordy. At Berkeley he got small and was the first to directly observe individual photomechanically switching molecular machines using scanning tunneling microscopy in the lab of Michael Crommie. During his postdoc at UIUC with Yann Chemla and Taekjip Ha, Matt transitioned to investigating biophysical molecular machines building a new cutting-edge single-molecule instrument that combined high-resolution optical tweezers with single-molecule fluorescence microscopy. With this new technique he observed DNA helicases moving along and unwinding DNA and switching conformations and directions at the same time. In August 2012, Matt joined the faculty at MSU. As an assistant professor and the Jerry Cowen Chair of Experimental Physics, he will continue to advance the frontiers of single-molecule biology experimental techniques.


Selected publications:

  • E. M. Patrick, Sukanya Srinivasan, Eckhard Jankowsky, and M. J. Comstock. “The RNA Helicase Mtr4p is a Duplex Sensing Translocase.”Nature Chemical Biology, 13, 99 (2017).
  • M. J. Comstock, K. D. Whitley, H. Jia, J. Sokoloski, T. M. Lohman, Taekjip Ha, and Y. R. Chemla. “Direct observation of structure-function relationship in a nucleic acid-processing enzyme,” Science, 348, 352 (2015).
  • M. J. Comstock, Taekjip Ha, and Y. R. Chemla. “Ultrahigh-resolution optical trap with single-fluorophore sensitivity,” Nature Methods, 8, 335 (2011).
  • M. J. Comstock, N. Levy, A. Kirakosian, J. W. Cho, F. Lauterwasser, J. H. Harvey, D. A. Strubbe, J. M. J. Fréchet, D. Trauner, S. G. Louie and M. F. Crommie. "Reversible photomechanical switching of individual engineered molecules at a surface," Physical Review Letters, 99, 038301 (2007).

Post-Doctoral Fellows


Eric Patrick

Ph.D. Wayne State University, Detroit, Chemistry, Advisor: Prof. David Rueda

B.S., University of Nairobi, Kenya, Biochemistry and Chemistry

Email: patri137 at

Graduate Students

Cho-Ying Chuang

Cho-Ying Chuang

M.S., National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan, Physics

B.S., National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan, Physics

Email: chuangc2 at

Jess West

Jess West

B.S., Michigan Technological University, Michigan, Physics and Electrical Engineering

Email: westjes3 at

Miles Whitmore

Miles Whitmore

B.S., Saginaw Valley State University, Michigan, Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry

Email: whitmo46 at

Undergraduate Students

Adam Gros

Adam Gros

MSU Biomedical Engineering

Email: grosadam at

Matt Zammit

Matthew Zammit - now post-baccalaureate!

MSU Physics and Astronomy

Email: zammitma at

Drew Baker

Drew Baker - now post-baccalaureate!

MSU Microbiology

Email: bakera17 at

Hannah Perkins

Hannah Perkins

Visiting from Lancaster University, England

Email: hannahtperkins at

Aditya Savanur

Aditya Savanur

MSU Physics and Astronomy

Email: savanura at

Former Group Members

Jonathan Wheeler

MSU Physics and Astronomy master's student

Duncan Nall

MSU Physics and Astronomy summer REU student

Now a graduate student in physics at UIUC


Matt Comstock, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Michigan State University

Biomedical Physical Sciences, 567 Wilson Road, Room 4216