Luke Akin
Department of Chemistry


B.S. Molecular Biology, University of Texas at Austin, 2016

B.S. Chemistry, University of Texas at Austin, 2016

Research Interests

My research interests lie at the interface of organic chemistry and biochemical sensing. Using various synthetic approaches, my work aims to develop highly-reactive functionalized surfaces endowed with the ability to detect molecular phenomena – such as enzymatic cleavage and small molecule interactions – using portable biosensor technologies for point-of-care diagnostics.

Research Experience

Graduate Researcher, October 2017 – May 2020

Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana-Champaign, IL

Advisor: Jefferson K. Chan, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Beckman Institute Faculty Affiliate


Research Associate, December 2015 – June 2017 

Division of Applied Genomics and Diagnostics, PerkinElmer, Austin, TX

Supervisor: Radmila Hrdlickova, General Manager of Sequencing Research and Clinical Translation


Undergraduate Researcher, August 2014 – August 2016 

Department of Analytical Chemistry, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Principle Investigator: Jennifer S. Brodbelt, Norman Hackerman Chair in Chemistry


Amgen Research Fellowship in Chemistry and Biology, May 2015 – August 2015 

Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA  

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA  

Principle Investigators: Matthew Shoulders (Chemistry; MIT) & Amit Choudhary (Chemistry; Harvard) 


Mayo Clinic Research Fellowship in Cancer Biology, May 2014 – August 2014 

Department of Cancer Biology and Physiology, Mayo Clinic Cancer Research Institute 

Principle Investigator: Howard Crawford (Current: University of Michigan at Ann Arbor)


Undergraduate Researcher, August 2011 – May 2013  

Department of Molecular Biology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX  

Principle Investigator: Scott W. Stevens, Professor of Molecular Biology



  1. Mapping the electrostatic interactions between Kdo2-lipid A and cationic antimicrobial peptides via ultraviolet photodissociation mass spectrometry. Crittenden, C.M.; Morrison, L.J.; Fitzpatrick, M.D.; Myers, A.P.; Novelli, E.T.; Rosenberg, J.; Akin, L.D.; Srinivasa, V.; Shear, J.B.; Brodbelt, J.S.; Analyst. 143, 3607-3618, 2018.
  2. Characterization of Lipid A Variants by Energy Resolved Mass Spectrometry: Impact of Acyl Chains. Crittenden, C.M.; Akin, L.D.; Morrison, J.L.; Trent, S.M.; Brodbelt, J.S.; J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 28, 1118-1126, 2017.
  3. Exploitation of the Ornithine Effect Enhances Characterization of Stapled and Cyclic Peptides. Crittenden, C.M.; Parker, W.R.; Jenner, Z.B.; Bruns, K.A.; Akin, L.D.; McGee, W.M.; Ciccimaro, E.; Brodbelt, J.S.; J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 27, 856-863, 2016.

Conference Proceedings

1. 2020 Canadian Chemistry Conference

A Novel Small Molecule-Activated Ultrasound Contrast Agent for Selective Imaging of Cancer.

Akin, L.D.; Chan, J. (May 2020)

2. 2019 Allerton Research Conference

A Novel Small Molecule-Activated Ultrasound Contrast Agent for Selective Imaging of Cancer.

Akin, L.D.; Chan, J. (November 2019)

3. 2017 American Association for Cancer Research Conference. 

Implementing Targeted Gene Sequencing to Assess the Presence of Inherited Risk Factors. 

Akin, L.D. (April 2017)

4. 2016 ASMS National Conference 

Electrostatic Interactions between Antimicrobial Peptides and Kdo2-Lipid A via UVPD-MS 

C.M. Crittenden; Akin, L.D.; B.W. Davies; J.S. Brodbelt. (June 2016)

5. 2015 ASMS National Conference. 

Chemical Derivatization and Enhancement of UV Photodissociation for Proteomics. 

Quick, M.; Akin, L.D.; Brodbelt, J.S. (June 2015)

Honors and Awards

  • St. David’s Foundation Graduate Scholar, 2017 – 2022
  • Beckman Institute Graduate Fellowship, 2019 – 2020
  • TiMe Research Symposium Poster Presentation Award, 2019
  • Chemistry Department Graduate Teaching Fellowship, 2019
  • University of Illinois SCS Teaching Excellence Award, 2018
  • PKI Award for Excellence in Research and Discovery, 2017
  • St. David’s Neal Kocurek Undergraduate Scholarship, 2016
  • University of Texas Award for Outstanding Research, 2015
  • Amgen Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, 2015
  • Mayo Clinic Research Fellowship in Cancer Biology, 2014
  • Bayer Pharmaceuticals Summer Research Fellowship, 2013
  • University of Texas Interdisciplinary Research Award, 2012
  • A.D. Bain Undergraduate Research Excellence Award, 2011