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Blake Mertz, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor


Ph.D., Iowa State University

The Mertz group is focused on using computational biophysics to investigate the structure-function relationships of membrane proteins. These insights can be used along with experimental observations to allow us to investigate membrane protein behavior on multiple time- and length-scales.

Teaching Fields

Physical Chemistry, Biochemistry

Courses Offered

  • CHEM 342 (Experimental Physical Chemistry)
  • CHEM 593 (Computational Chemistry)
  • CHEM 115 (General Chemistry)


Lee, C., Mertz, B. Theoretical Evidence for Multiple Charge Transfer Pathways in Bacteriorhodopsin. J. Chem. Theory Comput. 201612, 1639-1646.

Feng, J., Mertz, B. “Proteorhodopsin activation is modulated by dynamic changes in hydration.” Biochemistry 2015, 54, 7132-7141.

Mertz, B., Feng, J., Corcoran, C., Neeley, B. “Explaining the mobility of retinal in activated rhodopsin and opsin”. Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 2015 DOI: 10.1039/C5PP00173K

Feng, J; Mertz. B. “Novel Phosphotidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate Binding Sites on Focal Adhesion Kinase”. PLoS ONE 2015, 10, e0132833.

Feng, J.; Brown, M.F.; Mertz, B. “Retinal Flip in Rhodopsin Activation?” Biophys. J. 2015, 108, 2767-2770.

Leioatts, N.; Mertz, B.; Martínez-Mayorga, K.; Romo, T.D.; Pitman, M.C.; Feller, S.E.; Grossfield, A.; Brown, M.F. “Retinal ligand mobility explains internal hydration and reconciles active rhodopsin structures.” Biochemistry 2014, 53, 376-385.

Mertz, B.; Struts, A. V.; Feller, S. E.; Brown, M. F. “Molecular simulations and solid-state NMR investigate dynamical structure in multi-scale rhodopsin activation”, BBA-Biomembranes 2012, 1818, 241-251. 

Mertz, B.; Lu, M.; Brown, M. F.; Feller, S. E. “Steric and electronic influences on the torsional energy landscape of retinal”, Biophys. J. 2011, 101, L17-L19.

Mertz, B.; Gu, X.; Reilly, P. “J. Analysis of functional divergence within two structurally related glycoside hydrolase families”, Biopolymers 2009, 91, 478-495.

Fushinobu, S.; Mertz, B.; Hill, A. D.; Hidaka, M.; Kitaoka, M.; Reilly, P. J. “Computational analyses of the conformational itinerary along the reaction pathway of GH94 cellobiose phosphorylase”, Carb. Res. 2008, 343, 1023-1033.

Mertz, B.; Hill, A. D.; Mulakala, C.; Reilly, P. J. “Automated docking to explore subsite binding by glycoside hydrolase family 6 cellobiohydrolaess and endoglucanases”, Biopolymers 2006, 87, 249-260.

Mertz, B.; Kuczenski, R. S.; Larsen, R. T.; Hill, A. D.; Reilly, P. J. “Phylogenetic analysis of family 6 glycoside hydrolases”, Biopolymers 2005, 79, 197-206.