Dr. Dominique Williams

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry


My research focus lies at the interface of biochemistry and inorganic chemistry. A primary goal is to design and investigate small, synthetic metallo-complexes as catalytic mimics of specific biological processes of natural enzymes, specifically hydrolases. Metal ions and complexes have been used in many synthetic approaches to assist in the cleavage and transformation of biomolecules. However, the physical and chemical properties of enzymes, such as catalytic rate enhancement and substrate specificity, are difficult to mimic in synthetic, non-enzymatic catalytic systems My lab approach to overcome this limitation is to use metal ions that are capable of forming catalytically active mononuclear and/or polynuclear hydroxo species in aqueous solution. Further, complex formation between the metal ion and a ligand can eliminate certain confinements of the metal ion in aqueous solution, enhance and tune the reaction kinetics, and provide selectivity for the catalytic process.

The overall goal of my current projects is to design phosphate ester-specific hydrolytic catalysts for the degradation of pesticides, nucleic acids, and bacterial specific nucleotides. The findings of these studies could lead to novel strategies to prevent or alleviate harmful bacterial biofilms, aid in the detoxification of dangerous pesticides, and provide invaluable insight into metal-assisted phosphate ester bond hydrolysis. In addition, the nucleic acid project could lead to a greater understanding of targeted DNA therapy and possible applications in cancer diagnosis. The interdisciplinary nature of these projects enables students to develop skills and knowledge in bioinorganic, analytical, and biochemistry, and the findings of these studies will contribute valuable knowledge to the scientific field.

*Laboratory should be set up Spring 2019, so please contact me after Fall 2018 if you’re interested in research opportunities in my lab.


Gordon Research Conference Carl Storm Travel Award February 2017

ACS Postdoc to PUI Professor Workshop Attendee March 2016

Worcester Polytechnic Institute STEM Faculty Launch Program September 2015

Younger Chemists Committee Leadership Development Award December 2013

American Chemical Society Division of Inorganic Chemistry Travel Award July 2013

Graduate Award for Outstanding Professional Service May 2013


255th American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition, New Orleans, LA, March 22, 2018, “A Biological On/OFF Switch for Bacterial Biofilm Formation”, Talk

Nitric Oxide Gordon Research Seminar 2017, Ventura, CA, February 19, 2017, “Nitric Oxide Regulation of Cyclic di-GMP Signaling and Biofilm Formation in Agrobacterium vitis”, Talk

SUNY Old Westbury College Senior Seminar, Old Westbury, NY, November 3, 2016, “A Biological On/OFF Switch for Bacterial Biofilm Formation”, Old Westbury, Invited Talk

Stony Brook Postdoctoral Association Annual Spotlight, Stony Brook, NY, September 17, 2015, “Nitric oxide to the Rescue: A Small Molecule vs. the Bacterial Invasion”, Talk

65th Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Atlanta, GA, November 15, 2013, “Phosphate Ester Hydrolysis of Phosphatidylcholine in Aqueous Solutions of Cerium(IV) and Bis-tris Propane”, Talk

246 American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition, Indianapolis, In, September 8, 2013, “Synthetic Cerium(IV)-based Catalysts as Mimics of Natural Hydrolases”, Talk

Selected Publications


Safiarian, S. M., Sawoo, S., Mapp, T. C., Williams, E. D., Gude, L., Fernández, M-J., Lorente, A., Grant, B. K., Aminomethylanthracene Dyes as High Ionic Strength DNA Photocleaving Agents: Two Rings Are Better than One ChemistrySelect 2018, 3, 4897-4910

Williams, E. D., Nisbett, L-M., Boon, M. E., Bacterial Heme-based Sensors of Nitric OxideAntioxidants and Redox Signaling 2017

Williams, E. D., Kassai, M., Gude, L., Fernández, M., Lorente, A., Grant, K. B., An Unlikely DNA Cleaving Agent: A Photoactive Tri-nuclear Cu(II) Based on Hexaazatriphenylene. J. Inorg. Biochem. 2017, 168, 55-66

Abreu-Sepulveda, M.*; Williams, E. D.*; Huq, A.; Dhital, C.; Li, Y.; Paranthaman, M. P.; Zaghib, K.; Manivannan, A., Synthesis and Characterization of Substituted Garnet and Perovskite-based Lithium-ion Conducting Solid Electrolytes Ionics  2016, 22, 317-325 (*coauthor)

Williams, E. D., Basnet, K., Grant, B. K., Tuning Cerium(IV)-assisted Hydrolysis of Phosphatidylcholine Liposomes under Mildly Acidic Neutral Conditions. Chem. Bio. Chem. 2015, 16, 1474-1482


Williams, E. D., Fischer, J., Heckler, I., Boon, M. E. 2018. Heme-based Sensors of Nitric Oxide. In: Shigetoshi Aono ed., Gas Sensing in Cells. Metallobiology series of RSC, Croydon (UK) p. 15-46


Ph.D., Georgia State University 2014
Chemistry/Biochemistry Concentration

B.S., Virginia Commonwealth University 2009

Contact Information

D-303 Gottwald Center for the Sciences
(804) 289-8244