Michael Woodside

B.Sc. 1995 University of Toronta
Ph.D. 2001 U.C. Berkeley


Originally from Ottawa, Ontario, I completed a B.Sc. at the University of Toronto in 1995 (specialising in Physics and majoring in Music) before coming to the U.S. to obtain my doctorate in Physics. In the research group of Paul McEuen (originally at UC Berkeley and now at Cornell University), I studied the local electronic properties of low dimensional systems using a home-built low-temperature atomic force microscope, looking in particular at quantum Hall conductors (in 2D) and carbon nanotubes (in 1D). Upon completion of my Ph.D., I did a short postdoc with Prof. McEuen before joining the Block group in the fall of 2002 to work on the physics of nucleic acids. Since the end of 2002 I have also been a member of the National Institute for Nanotechnology of the National Research Council of Canada in Edmonton, Alberta.

My research involves studying the mechanical properties of nucleic acids, in particular the force-induced melting of DNA hairpins. I have been working with Polly Fordyce to investigate how the force at which hairpins unzip depends on the characteristics of the hairpin (such as sequence, length) and its environment (buffer conditions), by pulling hairpins apart with optical tweezers.