Contact: Pamela Bogdanski

Department Administrator

Chemical Engineering

(734) 764-7368

3074E H.H.Dow

Heather Mayes | Faculty

Heather Mayes

Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering

G064W NCRC B28

(734) 647-1756

Mayes Research Group

Chemical Engineering Faculty

Short Bio


Northwestern University
PhD Chemical Engineering 2015

University of Illinois at Chicago
BS Chemical Engineering 2007


  • Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering Department (2017- )
  • Affiliate, Michigan Institute for Computational Discovery and Engineering (2017- )


  • Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Chemistry, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL (2015-2016)
  • Consultant, Jacobs Consultancy, Chicago, IL (2007-2010)


Research & Teaching


Using multiscale modeling to understand protein-sugar interactions and harness them for renewable energy and improved health. Nature has evolved a wide range of proteins responsible for storing energy in carbohydrates, transporting them, and cleaving their bonds to release energy, each exquisitely tuned to the unique stereochemistry of different sugars. These sugars also modify protein structure and function through post-translational attachment carbohydrates to proteins, with varied effects based on glycan composition and binding location. The study of carbohydrate-protein interactions is industrially important for efforts to harness biotechnology to create renewable fuels and chemicals from non-food biomass. Applications of this research also include human health, as defects in carbohydrate-active enzymes and protein glycosylation are implicated in human diseases including cancer, muscular dystrophy, and autoimmune disorders.

My group uses computational tools to probe these interactions at a wide range of length and time scales to answer questions ranging from fundamental understanding to industrial feasibility. We employ computational chemistry tools including quantum mechanics (QM), molecular dynamics (MD), and rare-event sampling methods to uncover fundamental understandings of protein-carbohydrate structure-function relationships, opening opportunities for rational design of enzymes and diagnostic tools. Collaborating with experimental groups, we aim to understand past and guide future wet-lab studies to advance renewable chemicals and fuels as well as health.

Dr. Heather Mayes' Google Scholar Profile

Honors and Awards

  • Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Chicago Consistent Contributor Award, 2015
  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Computational Molecular Science and Engineering Forum (CoMSEF) Graduate Student Award, 2014
  • Northwestern University Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering Distinguished Graduate Researcher Award, 2014
  • ACS Chemical Computing Group Research Excellence Award (COMP Division), 2014
  • Selected to participate in the 63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting and to debate biofuels with Laureates Steven Chu and Hartmut Michel, 2013
  • DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (CSGF), 2011–2015
  • ARCS Foundation Scholar, 2011–2014


Please see Dr. Heather Mayes' Google Scholar Profile