Tugba Kucukkal

Assistant Professor
Science, Technology & Math

Tugba Kucukkal


Hall Memorial Building N446D

Tugba Kucukkal received her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Clemson University in 2013. Her Ph.D. work involved molecular dynamics simulations using advanced sampling and polarizable force fields. Apart from research, she gained extensive teaching experience at Clemson. She thought physical chemistry and cooperative general chemistry labs in which students worked collaboratively to solve given problems through experimentation while developing critical thinking and problem solving skills. Upon completion of the degree, she went on to post-doc with Emil Alexov at the Physics Department to work on modeling impact of single point mutations associated with rare genetic diseases on protein proteins, particularly the Rett Syndrome protein MeCP2. She then joined the faculty of Gallaudet University. Currently, she is developing methods to accurately and efficiently calculate protein stability changes upon single point mutations. In addition, she is designing and testing educational games for better student engagement, motivation and enjoyment in science courses. 


Current courses:

  • Physical Chemistry Laboratory
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Computer Applications for Scientists

Courses Taught:

  • Quantitative Reasoning in Context: Board Game Design
  • Physical Chemistry Laboratory
  • General Chemistry Laboratory
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry Laboratory
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Physics Laboratory
  • Quantitative Reasoning: Finance and Statistics

Dr. Kucukkal is interested in active learning and game-based learning. Her view of teaching and learning benefits largely from cognitivist or inquiry-based approaches while still retaining some aspects of lecture-based or traditional style.

Current Group Members: Shanieka Coleman (Chemistry, game design), Jenny Mendis (Chemistry, Effects of Single Point Mutations on Protein Stability)

Past Group Members: Taylor Mickelson (Math), Jonathan Tikhonoff (IT), Ken Peters (Chemistry), Aashni Kamra (Biology), Kelsey Prickett (Biology)

Some of our past and current research projects:

  • Development of an Accurate Computational Method to Study Ataxia-Causing Mutations
  • Game-Based Learning in Physical Chemistry Courses
  • Effects of Rett Syndrome Mutations on MeCP2 Protein Properties
  • Modeling Ion Transport through Wild-Type and Mutant Alpha-7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors
  • Polarizable Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Aqueous Dipeptides
  • Simulations of Water over Self-Assembled Monolayer Surfaces

MeCP2 Protein Structure with DNA:



  • Kucukkal TG*, Kahveci A. "PChem Challenge Game: Reinforcing Learning in Physical Chemistry" J. Chem. Educ., 96(6), 2019
  • Kucukkal TG*, Alsaiari F, Stuart SJ. "Modeling Ion Transport through Wild-Type and Mutant Alpha-7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors" J Theoretical and Computational Chemistry, 1850045, 2018
  • Yang Y, Kucukkal TG, Alexov E, Cao W. “Binding Analysis of Methyl Binding Domain of MeCP2 and Rett Syndrome Mutations” ACS Chemical Biology, 11(10), 2016
  • Kucukkal TG, Yang Y, Cao W, Alexov E. “Impact of Rett Syndrome Mutations on MeCP2 MBD Stability” Biochemistry, 54(41), 2015
  • Kucukkal, TG, Yang Y, Chapman SC, Cao W, Alexov E. "Structural and physico-chemical effects of disease and non-disease nsSNPs on proteins." Current Opinion in Structural Biology 32, 2015
  • Kucukkal TG*, Alexov E. “Structural, Energetical, and Dynamical Consequences of Rett Syndrome Mutation R133C in MeCP2” CMMM, ID:746157, 2015 *Corresponding Author
  • Petukh M*, Kucukkal TG*, Alexov E. “On human disease-causing amino acid variants: statistical study of sequence and structural characteristics of amino acid patterns” Human Mutation 36:5, 2015

For full list of publications, see Dr. Kucukkal's Google Scholar Profile.


800 Florida Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002


800 Florida Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002