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Julia Montgomery

Biochemistry Ph.D. Candidate
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellow
  • BcGSA Communication Liaison
  • Research area(s): Using polarizable molecular dynamics to investigate membrane-protein and membrane-small molecule interactions
Julia Montgomery, Virginia Tech Department of Biochemistry Graduate Student
108 Engel Hall


Ph.D., Biochemistry, Virginia Tech, 2024 Expected

B.S., Chemistry – Biochemistry Sequence, Biology Minor, St. Joseph’s University, 2019


  • August 2019-present, Graduate Research Assistant, Biochemistry, Virginia Tech
  • August 2017-May 2019, Head Laboratory Assistant, Physical Sciences, St. Joseph’s University
  • August 2017- May 2019, Academic Tutor, Office for Tutoring and Academic Development, St. Joseph’s University

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2021 

Virginia Tech Department of Biochemistry Dean’s Scholar Award, 2019

Rosemary O’Halloran Women in Chemistry Scholarship

Gamma Sigma Epsilon Chemistry Honor Society Member

SJC 9000 Scholastic Achievement Scholarship

Graduate Teaching Assistant for BCHM 2024: Concepts of Biochemistry, Spring 2021

Graduate Teaching Assistant for BCHM 2114: Biochemical Calculations, Spring 2020

My research focuses on using polarizable molecular dynamic simulations to study the interactions of membranes with proteins and small molecules. When considering the environment of the membrane, there is a characteristic dielectric gradient present due to having a highly charged exterior and a more neutral interior. This gradient is crucial for biological processes like small molecule partitioning, protein folding, and protein function. To capture this environment more accurately, a polarizable model can be used. In the past, polarizable models were not computationally feasible to be used to complete simulations with membranes. However, recent advancements in computational hardware and software have made these simulations accessible.

My work aims to quantify the differences in key properties when comparing polarizable simulations to traditional nonpolarizable simulations. This will serve as a foundation for further investigation into membrane proteins and drug partitioning, with a long-term focus on computer-aided drug design purposes.

Oral Presentations

  • Montgomery, J. M., Lemkul, J. A. (2022). Polarization in Partitioning: Quantifying the Effects of Induced Dipoles on Amino Acid Sidechain Analogs in a POPC Membrane. Platform talk presented at the Biophysical Society 66th Annual Meeting.

Poster Presentations

  • Montgomery, J. M., Lemkul, J. A. (2020). Membrane Dynamics in the Drude Polarizable Force Field. Poster presented at Virginia Tech Biochemistry’s Annual Retreat.
  • D. S. Davidson, J. A. Kraus, Montgomery, J. M., Lemkul, J. A. (2020). Effect of Familial Alzheimer's Disease Mutations of the Folding Free Energy of Amyloid Beta-Peptide. Poster presented at Biophysical Society National Meeting.
  • Montgomery, J. M., Stadler, A. (2019). Gold Nanoparticle Colorimetric Detection of Estrogen and Estrogen Mimics. Poster accepted at American Chemical Society Spring National Meeting.
  • Montgomery, J. M., Stadler, A. (2019). Gold Nanoparticle-Based Colorimetric Sensor of Estrogen Using a Split Aptamer Assembly. Poster presented at St. Joseph’s Undergraduate Research Symposium.