Timothy Whitehead
Associate Professor
Chemical and Biological Engineering

Mailbox: 596 UCB
Office: JSCBB E1B32


BE in Chemical Engineering, magna cum laude, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN (2001)

PhD in Chemical Engineering, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA (2008)
Thesis: Engineering proteins to build nanostructures
Thesis advisor: Douglas S. Clark, PhD

Senior Fellow, Department of Biochemistry,  University of Washington, Seattle, WA (2009 - 2011)
Advisor: David Baker, PhD


  • College of Engineering Nominee, MSU Teacher/Scholar Award, 2017
  • Johansen Crosby Endowed Chair, CHEMS MSU, 2017
  • Young Scientist Keynote, PEGS Meeting, 2017
  • Fellow, Global Academy MSU, 2017
  • NSF CAREER, 2013
  • NIH T32 pre-doctoral Biotechnology Training Fellowship, 2007

Select Publications

  • Baumer ZT, Whitehead TA* "The inner workings of an enzyme" (2021) Science 373:391-392 DOI: 10.1126/science.abj8346     
  • Kirby MB, Medina-Cucurella AV, Baumer ZT, Whitehead TA*, (2021) “Optimization of multi-site nicking mutagenesis for generation of large, user-defined combinatorial libraries”, Protein Engineering, Design, and Selection gzab017 https://doi.org/10.1093/protein/gzab017.
  • Francino Urdaniz I, Steiner PJ, Kirby MB, Zhao F, Haas CM, Barman S, Rhodes ER, Leonard AC, Peng L, Sprenger K, Jardine JG, Whitehead TA* (2021) “One-shot identification of SARS-CoV-2 S RBD escape mutants using yeast screening”, Cell Reports, accepted
  • Faber MS^, Wrenbeck EE^, Azouz L&, Steiner PJ^, Whitehead TA*, (2019) “Impact of initial protein stability on local fitness landscapes”, Molecular Biology Evolution, in press https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/590398v1
  • Wrenbeck EE^, Azouz LR&, Whitehead TA* (2017), “Single-mutation fitness landscapes for an enzyme on multiple substrates reveal specificity is globally encoded”, Nature Communications 8:15695    
  • Klesmith JR^, Bacik JP, Wrenbeck EE^, Michalczyk R, Whitehead TA* (2017) “Trade-offs between enzyme fitness and solubility illuminated by deep mutational scanning”, PNAS 114:2265-2270 doi: 10.1073/pnas.1614437114
  • Wrenbeck EE^, Klesmith JR^, Adeniran A, Stapleton JA^, Tyo KJ, Whitehead TA*, (2016) “Plasmid-based single-pot saturation mutagenesis”, Nature Methods 13(11): 928-930 doi:10.1038/nmeth.4029 
  • Whitehead TA+, Chevalier A+, Song Y et al. (2012) “Optimization of affinity, specificity, and function of designed Influenza inhibitors using deep sequencing”, Nature Biotechnology 30(6):543-8. doi: 10.1038/nbt.2214

+ authors contributed equally

  • Fleishman SJ+, Whitehead TA+, Ekiert D+, Dreyfus C, Corn JE, Strauch EM, Wilson IA, Baker D (2011) “Computational design of proteins targeting the conserved stem region of Influenza hemagglutinin”, Science 332(6031):816-21

+ authors contributed equally

Research Interests

Protein engineering, protein design, biomolecular recognition, renewable energy production, antibody and antibody mimics, antigen design, synthetic biology, biochemical engineering.