Electricity is central to life. Sensation of environmental stimuli, thought, learning, memory, and other aspects of neuronal communication, hormone secretion and movement all rely on cellular electrical signals.  We study life’s electrical system from a molecular and biophysical perspective.

The focus of the laboratory is on ion channels, transporters and their regulatory complexes that form gated pathways for ionic traffic across cell membranes. We aim to discover how these membrane proteins work at a detailed mechanistic level and what they do in a biological context. To this end, we utilize a range of approaches including structural biology (X-ray crystallography and cryo-EM), electrophysiology, biophysics, biochemistry, pharmacology and imaging. Our goals are to understand the molecular basis of sensory transduction and electrical signaling and to lay the groundwork for development of new approaches to promoting health and treating disease. 

Learn more here.

News from the lab:

  • 5/2019: Kim Dolan (Biophysics) joins the lab. Welcome back Kim!

  • 3/2019: Congrats to Vivian Li on receiving a SURF Undergraduate research fellowship!

  • 2/2019: Sonali Mali (Neuroscience) and Sue Sim (MCB) join the lab for rotations. Welcome!

  • 2/2019: David’s paper is accepted at eLIFE. Nice job David!

  • 11/2018: Jennifer Hill (MCB) joins the lab for a rotation. Welcome Jennifer!

  • 10:2018: David’s paper on LRRC8A structure is on the bioRxiv. Congrats David!!!

  • 9/2018: Welcome to rotation student Kim Dolan (Biophysics)!

  • 6/2018: Postdoc Ben Sorum joins the group. Welcome Ben!

  • 5/2018: Michelle Reid joins the lab for her PhD. Welcome Michelle! And congrats on receiving the Chancellor's Fellowship!

  • 5/2018: Arash Foroutan is headed to Reza Vafabakhsh's lab at Northwestern. Good luck Arash!

  • 4/2018: MCB Graduate student Michelle Reid joins the lab! Welcome Michelle!

  • 3/2018: Congrats to Sheila Sharifi on receiving a SURF Rose Hill Undergraduate Research Fellowship for this summer! Nice work Sheila!

  • 2/2018: MCB students Michelle Reid and Natalie Dall join the lab for rotations


  • 11/2017: Welcome to MCB rotation students Santi Yori and Amanda González!

  • 11/2017: Congrats to Robert and Jo! Their paper on studying K2P channel mechanosensitivity is out!

  • 11/2017: A very big thank you to the New York Stem Cell Foundation - Steve is named a NYSCF - Robertson Neuroscience Investigator.

  • 10/2017: Welcome to Cal exchange student Lingshuang Wu.

  • 5/2017: Steve is named a 2017 McKnight Scholar. Thank you to the McKnight Endowment Fund For Neuroscience for supporting our science.

  • 4/2017: Chris Hoel and Toby Turney join the lab for their thesis work. Welcome back guys!

  • 4/2017: Chris receives the Dr. Martha Wade Graduate Fellowship from Alpha Lambda Delta. Congrats Chris!

  • 4/2017: Congrats to Ian Tayler for receiving a SURF L&S fellowship to conduct research in the lab this summer. Nice work Ian!

  • 3/2017: Congrats to Robert Rietmeijer and Chris Hoel for receiving honorable mentions for their NSF fellowship applications.

  • 3/2017: Arash Foroutan joins the lab as a visiting scholar. Welcome Arash!

  • 2/2017: David Kern joins the lab for his postdoc. Welcome David!

  • 1/2017: Welcome to our 3 Cal undergrads starting in the lab this semester: Ian Tayler, Sheila Sharifi, & Alex Bang


  • 11/2016: Welcome to rotating MCB grad student Nora Kostow!

  • 10/2016: Steve receives a NIH Director's New Innovator Award.

  • 9/2016: Welcome to 2 rotating graduate students: Chris Hoel from MCB and Francisco Hidalgo from Chemical Biology.

  • 8/2016: Steve is awarded a Klingenstein-Simons fellowship award in the Neurosciences. Thank you to the Esther A. & Joseph Klingenstein Fund and the
    Simons Foundation for supporting our research.

  • 6/2016: Incoming Biophysics student Toby Turney joins the lab for the summer. Welcome Toby!

  • 6/2016: Amgen Scholar Joseph Hernandez joins the lab for the summer. Welcome Joseph!

  • 5/2016: Robert Rietmeijer joins the lab to pursue his PhD! Welcome aboard Robert :)

  • 3/2106: Josefina del Mármol joins the lab as a postdoctoral fellow. Welcome Josefina!

  • 2/2016: Our first rotation students start - welcome to Laura Craciun and Justin Zhang from MCB and Robert Rietmeijer from Biophysics!

  • 2/2016: Zhu Fu joins the lab as a research specialist. Welcome Zhu!

  • 1/2016: ...and we're off! The Brohawn lab is officially open for business :)