Nate Ennist


Chemistry BS, Physics BA: Emory University, Atlanta, GA 2005-2009


Sigma Pi Sigma—The Physics Honor Society
Membership in society for outstanding academic performance in physics
May 2008 – present

National Society of Collegiate Scholars
Award for scholarship, leadership, and service
April 2007 – present

Jackson Fellowship
Grant from Emory University Department of Physics
Researched reactivity of cob(I)alamin (doubly reduced vitamin B12)
May 2008 – August 2008


The long-term goal of my research project is to create an artificial photosynthetic system to convert solar energy into a useful fuel.  I have engineered a higly stable and soluble 4-helix bundle protein that assembles 4 cofactors with site specificity and uses them to capture light energy and drive electron transfer.  By developing this prototype, we hope to one day create an enzyme that catalyzes light-driven electron transfer from water to protons in order to generate oxygen and hydrogen, a clean-burning, high-energy fuel.  To learn how to create such an enzyme, I am exploring the electron-transfer properties of my prototype protein using transient-absorption spectroscopy, and I am using X-ray crystallography to determine its structure to atomic resolution in the apo and holo states.  If a photosynthetic hydrogen-evolving enzyme could be incorporated into a living organism, then we could create a self-sustaining system that generates useful fuel and continually replaces damaged protein.