Kenneth Raymond Miller, PHD
Professor of Biology
Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, & Biochemistry
Work: +1 401-863-3410
I am interested in the detailed relationships of structure and function in biological membranes. One of the principal experimental systems which my lab has used is to investigate these relationships in the photosynthetic membrane. By using the freeze-etching technique, metal replicas can be prepared for the electron microscope which capture the fine details of membrane structure. These can be correlated with the polypeptide and lipid composition of the membrane.
BiographyKenneth R. Miller is Professor of Biology. He did his undergraduate work at Brown, and earned a Ph D in 1974 at the University of Colorado. He spent six years as Assistant Professor at Harvard University before returning to Brown University in 1980. His research work on cell membrane structure and function has produced more than 60 scientific papers and reviews in leading journals, including CELL, Nature, and Scientific American. Miller is coauthor, with Joseph S. Levine, of four different high school and college biology textbooks which are used by millions of students nationwide. He has received 6 major teaching awards at Brown, the Presidential Citation of the American Institute for Biological Science (2005), and the Public Service Award of the American Society for Cell Biology (2006). In 2009 he was honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for Advancing the Public Understanding of Science, and also received the Gregor Mendel Medal from Villanova University. In 2011 he was presented with the Stephen Jay Gould Prize by the Society for the Study of Evolution. He is the author of Finding Darwin's God (A Scientist's Search for Common Ground between God and Evolution), and Only a Theory (Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul).
Research DescriptionI am interested in the detailed relationships of structure and function in biological membranes. One of the principal experimental systems which my lab has used is to investigate these relationships in the photosynthetic membrane. By using the freeze-etching technique, metal replicas can be prepared for the electron microscope which capture the fine details of membrane structure. These can be correlated with the polypeptide and lipid composition of the membrane.
We have also begun to investigate structure-function relationships in plasmodesmata, the junctions that link plant cells. Using the freeze-etching technique we have prepared high-resolution images of these junctions. In the next few months we expect to be able to follow the movement of macromolecules from cell to cell through the junction at the resolution level of the electron microscope.
Our paper was featured on the cover of the November 15, 1996 issue of CELL, and reported the first direct visualization of the actual channel through which proteins are translocated into the rough ER. We were also able to show that the assembly of the channel is stimulated by association with ribosomes, providing evidence that it is a dynamic structure that forms in response to contact with the machinery of translation.
Grants and AwardsHONORS
1992 - CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education) Rhode Island College Professor of the Year.
1993 - First recipient, the Elizabeth H. Leduc Award for Teaching Excellence in the Life Sciences (Brown University).
1996 - Named The Walter H. Annenberg Distinguished Professor of the Year, Brown University.
1997 - Recipient of Distinguished Teaching Award from SALS (Students with Alternate Learning Styles).
1998 - Recipient of the Onyx Society (African-American Alumni Association) Award for Distinguished Teaching (Brown University).
1999 - Recipient of the Harriet W. Sheridan Award for Distinguished Contributions to Teaching and Learning (Brown University).
2005 - Presidential Citation, American Institute for Biological Sciences.
2006 - Public Service Award, The American Society for Cell Biology
2007 - Elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
2007 - Outstanding Educator Award, the Exploratorium (San Francisco)
2008 - Distinguished Service Award, National Association of Biology Teachers
2008 - Hazeltine Citation (from the Brown University Class of 2008)
2009 - Public Understanding of Science Award, AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science)
2009 - The James Gregory Medal (St. Andrews University)
2009 - The Gregor Mendel Medal (Villanova University)
2009 - named a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
2010 - Honorary Doctorate, Mt. Aloysius College
2011 - The Stephen Jay Gould Award (Society for the Study of Evolution)
AffiliationsPROFESSIONAL SERVICE AND ASSOCIATIONS
Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science
Member, American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)
ASCB Education Committee: 1985-1990; 2002-present
Chair: ASCB Education Committee: 1986-1990; 2002-2005
ASCB Program Committee: 1985-1986; 1992-1994
Chairman: ASCB Program Committee: 1993
ASCB Council Member, 1987-1989
Member, Sigma Xi
Editor, The Journal of Cell Biology (1983-1985)
Editor, The Journal of Cell Science (1988-1992)
Funded ResearchPrivate Research Funding: $29,000 (AY 2007-2008) KR Miller Research Fund; $20,000 (AY 2007-2008) Royce Family Professorship
My teaching has been concentrated in the field of cell biology (Biology 105 / 205) and in general biology (Biology 20). I take a research-oriented view towards college teaching, focusing on the scientific method and the process of science.
- Eukaryotic Cell Biology (BI0105)
- Foundations of Living Systems (BI0020)
- Meyer, T. H., Ménétret, J. F. , Breitling, R. , Miller, K. R., Akey, C. W., and T. A. Rapaport (1999) The bacterial Sec Y/E translocation complex forms channel-like structures similar to those of the eukaryotic Sec61p complex. Journal of Molecular Biology 285: 1789-1800. (1999)
- Hanein, D., Matlack, K. E. S., Jungnickel, B., Plath, K., Kalies, K., Miller, K. R., Rapoport, T. A., and C. W. Akey (1996) Oligomeric Rings of the Sec61p Complex Induced by Ligands Required for Protein Translocation. Cell 87, 721-732. (1996)
- Wiest, P. M., S. S. Kunz, W. D. Bowen, and K. R. Miller (1994) Activation of proteinkinase C by phorbol esters disrupts the tegument of Schistosoma mansoni. Parasitology 109: 461-468. (1994)
- Hinshaw, J. E., and K. R. Miller (1989) Localization of Light-Harvesting Complex II to the Occluded Surfaces of Photosynthetic Membranes. J. Cell Biology 109: 1725-1732 (1989)
- Bassi, R., A. Magaldli, G. Tognon, G. M. Giacometti, and K. R. Miller (1989) Two-dimensional crystals of the Photosystem II reaction center complex from higher plants. Eur. J. Cell Biology 50: 84-93. (1989)
- Lyon, M. K. & K. R. Miller (1985) Crystallization of a membrane protein in situ. J. Cell Biology. 100: 1139-1147. (1985)
- Jacob, J. S., & K. R. Miller (1983) Two-dimensional crystals formed from photosynthetic reaction centers. J. Cell Biol. 97: 1266-1270. (1983)
- Miller, K. R. (1979c) The structure of a bacterial photosynthetic membrane. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 76: 6415-6419. (1979)
- Miller, K. R. (1979a) The Photosynthetic Membrane. Scientific American (October) pp. 102-113. (1979)