July 3, 2018

About Dr. McLaughlin

Dr. Krystle J. McLaughlin is an Assistant Professor in the Chemistry Department at Vassar College, where she teaches Biochemistry,  Biophysical Chemistry, the Biochemistry Senior Seminar, and Protein Crystallography.

Research in the McLaughlin Lab is focused on several diverse microbial systems including bacteria from the gut microbiome and key complexes in the spread of antibiotic resistance. The lab makes primary use of macromolecular x-ray crystallography, along with several biochemical & biophysical methods including fluorescence anisotropy, to investigate protein structure and function.

Dr. McLaughlin is also interested in best practices in science pedagogy, with a particular focus on methods to improve retention of women and underrepresented groups. She has created and facilitated several workshops on research preparation for undergraduates, active learning techniques for teachers, and inclusive teaching best practices.

More info:  Vassar Faculty Page | Google Scholar Wikipedia Entry 

Social Media: Twitter | Bluesky | LinkedIn

Publications: NCBI Bibliography


Dr. Krystle J. McLaughlin is a proud Caribbean American, originally hailing from Tobago, the smaller “sister isle” in the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

After graduating from Bishop’s High School (Tobago)  she began her undergraduate studies at  Colgate University, eventually earning a degree in physics in 2006. At Colgate University, Krystle discovered two passions: teaching and scientific research.  As a physics major, during her sophomore year she began tutoring younger physics students and found that she truly enjoyed helping them learn. Throughout her Colgate career, Krystle was able to be a teaching assistant and tutor several physics classes. Vibrant research experiences with Colgate professors cemented her interest in research.

“At Colgate University, Krystle discovered her two passions: teaching and scientific research.”

At Colgate, Krystle also distinguished herself as a student leader in several groups including the Colgate Society of Physics Students (SPS) and the Caribbean Students Association. For several years, Krystle also served as an elected member on the SPS National Council and also on the American Institute of Physics’ (AIP) Education Committee. This relationship with the SPS national office and the AIP continue today as Krystle is leading a partnership with the SPS to host an annual Undergraduate Research Symposium at the American Crystallographic Association (ACA) meeting. She has also served as the ACA representative on the AIP Liaison Committee on Underrepresented Minorities (LCURM) since 2013.

In August 2006, Krystle entered into the Biophysics PhD program at the University of Rochester. She joined Clara Kielkopf’s lab for her doctoral work, which was focused on the structural and biophysical basis of protein-RNA interactions.  Krystle had many successes during graduate school and won several awards including the William F. Neuman Award from the Biophysics program, which is given to one outstanding biophysics student each year. She was also a recipient of the university-wide Elon Huntington Hooker Fellowship in recognition for her research at the University of Rochester.

As a graduate student at the University of Rochester, Krystle continued to accept teaching opportunities while developing scientific research skills. In March 2010, Krystle was given the opportunity to be a guest lecturer in the Chemistry Department at Hampton University, with advisement from Dr. Shanthi Paranawithana, a Kielkopf Lab alumna.

In summer 2011, Krystle successfully defended her thesis titled “Structural and Thermodynamic Analysis of Protein-Nucleic Acid Interactions”  for her doctorate in biophysics; earning the George V. Metzger award from the Biophysics program for “the most outstanding PhD thesis in Biophysics”.

“In [graduate school], Krystle cultivated a love of macromolecular x-ray crystallography which still continues today.”

Next, Krystle worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Krystle’s research was funded in part by a prestigious SPIRE (Seeding Postdoctoral Innovators in Research and Education) postdoctoral fellowship. With a deep interest in both teaching and research, Krystle was excited to be a part of the SPIRE postdoctoral program which seeks ” To provide multi-dimensional professional development for science researchers and educators to succeed in academic careers, to bring engaging teaching methods into the classroom, and to increase diversity in science professions.”  In Dr. Kielkopf’s lab, Krystle cultivated a love of macromolecular x-ray crystallography which still continues today. At UNC she used x-ray crystallography to characterize several proteins responsible for the transfer of virulence and antibiotic resistance factors between bacterial cells in Dr. Matthew Redinbo’s Lab.

As part of her SPIRE fellowship, Krystle had a year-long teaching placement at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke where she taught Principles of Biology and facilitated a new workshop for undergraduates to help prepare for research experiences discussing topics such as establishing and maintaining a positive relationship with your mentor, lab practices of an effective researcher, and developing strategies to overcome challenges in lab. Next, Krystle became a Professor of Practice in the Department of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University, where she taught several biology courses, maintained an undergraduate research group, and started a successful high school outreach program called PA DNA Day.

In August 2017, she joined Vassar College as an Assistant Professor in Chemistry. She teaches Biochemistry,  Biophysical Chemistry, the Biochemistry Senior Seminar, and Protein Crystallography. At Vassar, she helped to create a student group called the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering (ADSE) that supports underrepresented students in STEM. She is currently an elected member of the National Academies US National Committee on Crystallography (USNC/Cr) and the chair of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion subcommittee.

Outside of lab, Krystle’s interests include reading, nostalgically indulging anything 90’s related, and spending time with her husband, two daughters, and their energetic dog Emmy Rosalind Franklin. Krystle also loves to dance, sing, and play the steeldrum. As an undergraduate she was lead singer in the alternative/pop band Joint Account (3x winner of Colgate’s battle of the bands!), and her senior year fronted another band, Hypotnoose. During graduate school she was the lead singer of an all biophysicist rock band with her fellow graduate students. She was also a part-time member of the Alfred St. John’sTrinidad and Tobago SteelBand, where she played the double tenor, and appeared on the band’s 2009 Christmas album: Caribbean Christmas Carnival  (listen on Spotify).  At UNC, she danced with the competitive Tar Heel Raas student dance group during the 2012-2013 season. Her newest (pandemic induced) hobby is TikTok dances/ trends, and she hopes to one day start an all professor nineties cover band.