Sarah Wacker

Assistant Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry



  • PhD, Rockefeller University
  • BS, University of Richmond

Courses Taught

  • CHEM 101: General Chemistry I
  • CHEM 101: General Chemistry I And Honors
  • CHEM 102: General Chemistry II
  • CHEM 102: General Chemistry II
  • CHEM 433: Biochemistry I
  • CHEM 434: Biochemistry of Cellular Processes
  • CHEM 436: Biochemistry Laboratory
  • CHEM 460: Chemical Research
  • CHEM 461: Chemical Research
  • OPPR 006: Oppr-Introduction To Chemistry
  • Research

    I am interested in how, on a detailed molecular basis, proteins bind to small molecules and how this can alter the protein's function. The interaction of small molecules with protein receptors is important for many diverse biological processes and plays a fundamental role in both healthy and disease states, as well as being the basis of many disease treatments.


    Starting in my postdoctoral work, I have been studying how bacteria recognize environmental small molecules and how that impacts the decision of a bacteria to form a multicellular community, called a biofilm. My research uses the model bacterium Bacillus subtilis, which forms beneficial biofilms on the roots of some plants and is commercially used as an environmentally-friendly plant protectant. While many genes that regulate biofilm formation in B. subtilis are well characterized, which chemical signals promote biofilm formation and how these signals are recognized by proteins is not well understood. Working with me, students will have the opportunity to conduct research to increase our mechanistic understanding of how the environment induces bacterial biofilms as well as learn the basics of how interactions with small molecules can affect a protein's function. 

  • Professional Experience and Memberships

    Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Manhattan College, beginning Fall 2017

    Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, 2012 - 2017