Dr. Martin Trebbin is Empire Innovation Assistant Professor at the Department of Chemistry and connected to the NSF science and technology center BioXFEL and RENEW.
His research focuses on the time-resolved structure determination of ultrafast protein structural dynamics, soft matter self-assembly and the nucleation & growth of nanoparticles. This interdisciplinary research profile fits and aligns very with the mission and goals of RENEW and its members.
Our world is dynamic and complex. This simple fact makes modern science so interesting, but also challenging. Many of today's driving scientific questions about energy, materials and biology might be unraveled if one could observe the motion of atoms and molecules in action. The recording of such a "molecular movie" would not only deepen our knowledge about the world, but also revolutionize medicine and allow us to create better materials for energy and technology applications.
Driven by this goal, Trebbin’s research interests and activities are focused on investigating structure-function relationships and dynamics of bio-macromolecules, polymers and nanoparticles. Specifically, the Trebbin lab harnesses modern structure determination techniques in combination with state-of-the-art microfluidics. The primarily used characterization methods are X-ray scattering and -diffraction at X-ray free-electron lasers and synchrotrons as well as cryo-electron microscopy. Using lithography and microfabrication techniques, the Trebbin lab creates tailored microfluidic devices that can handle smallest fluid volumes with great control and which are optimized for the mentioned structure determination techniques. This combination does not only enable high-resolution structure determination from scarcely available materials, but it also enables the collection of high throughput and time-resolved structural data of the sample systems. Trebbin’s broad background and expertise in chemistry includes specific training in physical chemistry and structural biology which are key research areas for this research program.
Martin Trebbin has been working on microfluidics since early 2009, with a strong focus on structure determination methods using X-rays (small-/wide-angle X-ray scattering, SAXS/WAXS) and handling of smallest amounts of samples for which he received his doctoral degree in 2013 (summa cum laude) at the University of Bayreuth (Germany). In 2014 he started working at the excellence cluster "Centre for Ultrafast Imaging" at the University of Hamburg (Germany). During this independent group leader position as Assistant Professor dedicated to “Ultrafast structure determination in liquids”, Trebbin has intensified this direction and expanded his expertise into time-resolved X-ray serial macromolecular crystallography (SFX, SSX) using X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) and synchrotrons (using both monochromatic and Laue radiation). In collaboration with Dr. Stephen Muench (Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, University of Leeds, UK), he is also working on single-particle cryo-electron microscopy. In August 2018, Martin Trebbin joined the University at Buffalo to continue his work on ultrafast time-resolved structure determination.
Trebbin’s leadership in these research areas is recognized by the scientific community and reflected in a large number of international invited seminars. During his research career, he has also already trained a number of young researchers (at BSc/MSc, PhD and PostDoc level) in chemistry, physics, microfluidics, fluid dynamics and structure determination methods. Furthermore, Trebbin has successfully applied for several third party-funded grants (DFG/BMBF/University, as PI or Co-I), as well as peer-reviewed X-ray beamtimes, with which he has laid the groundwork for his research program by developing microfluidic technology for X-ray compatible rapid mixing microfluidics and coupling it to time-resolved structure determination methods.