Mark Chee hails from the Republic of Singapore. He earned his undergraduate degrees in Biology and in Chemistry from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He chose to continue his graduate studies at Duke as a James B. Duke Fellow in the Structural Biology & Biophysics program. After earning his Ph.D. in Biology, he started work in the Duke Biology Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories, working to improve and implement lab exercises designed to facilitate discovery-based learning by undergraduate students. At the same time, he developed a novel research program involving undergraduate students aimed at novel scientific discoveries in genetics and microbiology. He was also appointed as a faculty member in the winter Citizen Science Program at Bard College in the Hudson Valley in 2014 before being selected as an American Society for Microbiology Science Teaching Fellow (2014-2015).
Dr. Chee is experienced in using genetic model organisms, including baker’s yeast, vinegar flies, and bacteria, to investigate fundamental questions in cell and molecular biology. For many years, his research interests have been focused on how the eukaryotic cell division cycle and mitosis are regulated. Specifically, he is interested in how motor and cytoskeletal proteins are regulated by cyclin-dependent kinases. Using baker’s yeast, he has made novel discoveries concerning the regulation of kinesin-5 motor proteins that are conserved in all eukaryotic organisms, including humans. Kinesin-5 proteins are of great interest due to their essential role in promoting cell division and their potential as chemotherapeutic targets in the treatment of cancer.
Dr. Chee is currently pursuing research with biotechnological applications, including the identification and characterization of novel microorganisms from the environment, particularly microbes that cause diseases in insects. His goal is to develop potential new biological controls to be used against insect pests in agriculture. He is also interested in studying microbes that are important in food production, as well as those implicated in food spoilage. The artificial selection and engineering of hemiascomycete yeasts with desirable properties for industrial fermentation is a key goal here. Building on his past experience working with undergraduates, he aims to give his students a hands-on, discovery-based learning experience in microbiology at Martin Methodist College.