Ruth E. Stark

Biochemistry/Molecular Biophysics

Director, CUNY Institute for Macromolecular Assemblies Director, CCNY Graduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement Director, CCNY B-cubed Research and Mentoring Program for Postbccalaureates

Additional Departments/Affiliated Programs

CUNY Institute for Macromolecular Assemblies

Areas of Expertise/Research

  • Basic Chemical and Biochemical Research
  • Fungal Virulence
  • Non-Opioid Pain Relief
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Plant Environmental Protection


Center for Discovery and Innovation





Prof. Ruth Stark

Ruth E. Stark


Ruth Stark received her A.B. degree in Chemistry at Cornell University and obtained her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at the University of California, San Diego.  A CUNY faculty member since 1985, Dr. Stark was designated as Distinguished Professor in 2006 and elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010.  Currently, she directs the 8-campus CUNY Institute for Macromolecular Assemblies (MMA)  and CCNY's Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program.  Drawing on training at the interface of chemistry, physics, and biology, her current research program focuses on the molecular structure and development of biopolymers that protect fruits and vegetables, the solution-state structure and metabolic signaling of fatty acid-binding proteins in appetite and pain, and the molecular development of melanin pigments associated with human fungal infections.  Professor Stark has supervised more than 100 research trainees from high school through postdoctoral levels, including approximately 50 women and 25 underrepresented minorities.


Cornell University, College of Arts and Sciences, A.B., Chemistry, 6/72.

University of California, San Diego, Ph.D., Physical Chemistry, 7/77.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship, 8/77-7/79.

Courses Taught

Undergraduate Courses:

Elementary Chemistry (Introduction to Thermodynamics & Chemical Kinetics, GeneralChemistry Laboratory, General Chemistry, Honors General Chemistry)

Physical Chemistry (Quantum Mechanics, Spectroscopy, Thermodynamics, Statistical Mechanics, Chemical Kinetics, Laboratory Course)

Student Research (NMR Spectroscopy, Biophysics, Biopolymers; Protein Structure)

Introduction to Liberal Studies (Race and Sex)

Doctoral Courses:     

NMR of Macromolecules, Physical Biochemistry, Biomembranes, Molecular Biophysics (lecture and seminar courses)

Curriculum Development: CUNY Discovery Institute, CSI Science Olympics; NSF Collaboratives for Excellence in Teacher Preparation; CSI Honors College; CUNY College Now; CCNY Pathways Program; LSAMP Communication Workshops; 'Taste of Science' seminars on Macromolecular Assemblies

Research Interests

The Stark Laboratory uses structural biology and molecular biophysics approaches to study plant protective polymers, lipid metabolism, and potentially pathogenic melanized fungal cells.  Nondestructive study of the molecular and mesoscopic architectures underlying the integrity of cuticles in natural and engineered tomatoes and potatoes is undertaken using solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), mass spectrometry, atomic force microscopy, and multivariate statistical methods.  Ligand recognition and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor interactions of fatty acid-binding proteins are under investigation by fluorescence competition assays and solution-state NMR.   The molecular structure and development of melanin pigments within fungal cells is probed using (bio)chemical synthesis and solid-state NMR.


Recent Publications

D. F. Q. Smith, N. J. Mudrak, D. Zamith-Miranda, C. Chrissian, L. Honorato, L. Nimrichter, B. Smith, G. Gerfen, R. E. Stark, J. D. Nosanchuk, and A. Casadevall, “Melanization of Candida auris is Associated with Alteration of Extracellular pH,” J. of Fungi., Fifty years of Fungi: A Special Issue Honoring the Contributions of Dr. June Kwon-Chung to the Field of Medical Mycology, 8(10), 1068, online 10/11/22.

Norma A. Alcantar, Scott Banta​, Gregg T. Beckham, Anthony Cak, Xi Chen, Taraka Dale, Christopher DelRe, Leila Deravi, Jonathan S. Dordick, Brian M. Giebel, Dianne Greenfield, Peter M. Groffman, Mandë Holford, George John, Neel S. Joshi, Nick A. Kotov, Jin Kim Montclare, Bradley S. Moore, Julia Ortony, Andrew Reinmann, Jiye Son, Ruth E. Stark, Rein V. Ulijn, Charles J. Vörösmarty, and Corey J. Wilson, “Matter of Opinion: Bioinspired Green Science and Technology Symposium in NYC,” invited submission, Matter, 5(7), 1980-84 (2022).

M. P. Wear, A. A. Hargett, J. E. Kelly, S. A. McConnell, C. J. Crawford, D. I. Freedberg, R. E. Stark, and A. Casadevall, “Lyophilization induces alterations in cryptococcal exopolysaccharide resulting in reduced antibody binding,” Carbohydrate Polymers, 291, 119547 (2022).

A. Kligman, K. Dastmalchi, S. Smith, G. John, and R. E. Stark,* “Building blocks of the protective suberin plant polymer self-assemble into lamellar structures with antibacterial potential,” ACS Omega, 7, 3978-3989 (2022).

R. P. Baker, C. Chrissian, R. E. Stark and A. Casadevall, “Cryptococcus neoformans melanization incorporates multiple catecholamines to produce polytypic melanin,” J. Biol. Chem., online 12/20/21, 298(1), 101519 (2022).

K. Dastmalchi, O. Chira, M. Perez Rodriguez,  B. Yoo, O. Serra, M. Figueras, and R. E. Stark,* “A chemical window into the impact of RNAi silencing of the StNAC103 gene in potato tuber periderms: Soluble metabolites, suberized cell walls, and antibacterial defense,” Phytochemistry, 190, 112885 (2021).

C. Chrissian, C. Lin, E. Camacho, A. Casadevall, A. Neiman,* and R. E. Stark,* “Unconventional constituents in the fungal cell walls of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Cryptococcus neoformans,” invited manuscript, J. of Fungi, 6, 329-345 (2020).

C. Chrissian, E. Camacho, J. E. Kelly, H. Wang, A. Casadevall, and R. E. Stark,* "Solid-state NMR spectroscopy identifies three classes of lipids in C. neoformans melanized cell walls and whole fungal cells, " J. Biol. Chem., 295, 15083-15096 (2020).

J. E. Kelly, C. Chrissian, R. E. Stark,* “Tailoring NMR Experiments for Structural Characterization of Amorphous Biological Solids: a practical guide," invited review for Solid State NMR, in press (2020).

M. P. Lai, F. Katz,* C. Bernard, J. Storch, and R. E. Stark,* “Two fatty acid-binding proteins expressed in the intestine interact differently with endocannabinoids,” Prot. Sci., 29, 1606-1617 (2020).

M. Perez Rodriguez, K. Dastmalchi,* B. Yoo, and R. E. Stark,* “Needle in a Haystack: Antibacterial Activity-Guided Fractionation of a Potato Wound Tissue Extract,” Bioorg. Med. Chem., 28, 115428 (2020).

C. Chrissian, E. Camacho, M.S. Fu, R. Prados-Rosales, S. Chatterjee, R. J. B. Cordero, J. K. Lodge, A. Casadevall, and R. E. Stark,* “Melanin deposition in two Cryptococcus species depends on cell-wall composition and flexibility,” J. Biol. Chem., online 1/2/20, 295, 1815-1828 (2020).

E. Camacho, R. Vij, C. Chrissian, R. Prados-Rosales, D. Gil, R. O’Meally, R.J.B. Cordero, R.N. Cole, M. McCaffrey, R. E. Stark, A. Casadevall, “The structural unit of melanin in the cell wall of the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans,” J. Biol. Chem., 294(27) 10471-10489 (2019). JBC RECOMMENDED READ.

K. Dastmalchi,* M. P. Rodriguez,* J. Lin, B. Yoo, and R. E. Stark,* “Temporal resistance of potato tubers: Antibacterial assays and metabolite profiling of wound-healing tissue extracts from contrasting cultivars,” Phytochemistry, 159, 75-89 (2019).

J. J. Liu, A. Hezghia, S. R. Shaikh, J. F. Ceñido, R. E. Stark, J. J. Mann, and M. E. Sublette, “Regulation of Monoamine Transporters and Receptors by Lipid Microdomains: Implications for Depression,” Neuropsychopharmacology, 43(11) 2165-2179 (2018).

S. Chatterjee, R. Prados-Rosales, S. Tan, V. C. Phan, C. Chrissian, B. Itin, A. Khajo, R. S. Magliozzo, A. Casadevall, and R. E. Stark, “The melanization road more traveled by: precursor substrate effects on melanin synthesis in cell-free and fungal cell systems,” J. Biol. Chem., online 11/1/18, 293, 20157-20168 (2018).

G. Tedeschi, J. J. Benitez, L. Ceseracciu, K. Dastmalchi, B. Itin, R. E. Stark, Antonio Heredia, A. Athanassiou and J. A. Heredia-Guerrero, “Sustainable fabrication of plant cuticle-like packaging films from tomato pomace agro-waste, beeswax, and alginate,” ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, 6, 14955–14966 (2018).

C.D. Gibson, P.-J. Hatton, J.A. Bird, K. Nadelhoffer, C.P. Ward, R.E. Stark, and T.R. Filley, “Interacting controls of pyrolysis temperature and plant taxa on the degradability of PyOM in a fire-prone northern temperate forest soil,” Soil Syst. 2(3), 48 (17pp) (2018). FEATURED PAPER.

L. Q. Jin,* Q. Cai,* W. Huang, K. Dastmalchi, J. Rigau, M. Molinas, M. Figueras, O. Serra, and R. E. Stark, “Potato native and wound periderms are differently affected by down-regulation of FHT, a Potato Feruloyl Transferase,” Phytochemistry, 147, 30-48 (2018).

E. Camacho, C. Chrissian, R. J. B. Cordero, L. Liporagi-Lopes, R. E. Stark, and A. Casadevall, “N-acetylglucosamine supplementation affects Cryptococcus neoformans cell wall composition and melanin architecture,” Microbiology, 163, 1540-1556 (2018).

Q. Wang,* S. Rizk,* C. Bernard, M.P. Lai, D. Kam, J. Storch, and R. E. Stark, “Protocols and Pitfalls in Obtaining Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins for Biophysical Studies of Ligand-Protein and Protein-Protein Interactions,” Biochem. Biophys. Rep., 10, 318-324 (2017).

J. F. Ceñido, B. Itin, R. E. Stark, Y. Huang, M. A. Oquendo, J. J. Mann, and M. E. Sublette, “Characterization of lipid rafts in human platelets using nuclear magnetic resonance: a pilot study,” Biochem. Biophys. Rep., 10, 132-136 (2017).

W. Huang, O. Serra, K. Dastmalchi, L. Jin, L. Yang, and R. E. Stark, “Comprehensive MS and Solid-state NMR Metabolic Profiling Reveals Molecular Variations in Native Periderms from Four Solanum tuberosum Potato Cultivars,” J. Agric. Food Chem., 65, 2258–2274 (2017).

P.-J. Hatton,* S. Chatterjee,* T. Filley, K. Dastmalchi, A. F. Plante, S. Abiven, X. Gao, C. A. Masiello, S. Leavitt, K. J. Nadelhoffer, R. E. Stark, and J. A. Bird, "Tree Taxa and Pyrolysis Temperature Interact to Control the Efficacy of Pyrogenic Organic Matter Formation," Biogeochemistry, 130, 103-116 (2016).

K. Dastmalchi, I. Wang, and R. E. Stark, “Potato Wound-Healing Tissues: A Rich Source of Natural Antioxidant Molecules with Potential for Food Preservation,” Food Chemistry, 210, 473-480 (2016).

C. Fernandes, R. Prados-Rosales, B. Silva, A. Nakouzi-Naranjo, S. Chatterjee, R. E. Stark, A. Casadevall, and T. Gonçalves, “Activation of Melanin Synthesis in Alternaria infectoria by Antifungal Drugs,” Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 60(3), 1216–1225 (2016).

S. Chatterjee, A. J. Matas, T. Isaacson, C. Kehlet, J. K.C. Rose, and R. E. Stark, “Solid-state 13C NMR Delineates the Architectural Design of Biopolymers in Native and Genetically Altered Tomato Fruit Cuticles,” Biomacromolecules, 17(1), 215–224 (2016).

J. Nosanchuk, R. E. Stark, and A. Casadevall, “Fungal melanin: what do we know about structure?,” invited review for Frontiers in Microbiology, 22 December 2015.

R. Prados-Rosales, S. Toriola, A. Nakouzi, S. Chatterjee, R.E. Stark, G. Gerfen, P. Tumpowsky, E. Dadachova, and A. Casadevall, "Structural Characterization of Melanin Pigments from Commercial Preparations of the Edible Mushroom Auricularia auricula," J. Agric. Food Chem., 63(33), 7326-7332 (2015).

K. Dastmalchi, L. Kallash, I. Wang, C.V. Phan, W. Huang, O. Serra, and R. E. Stark, “Defensive Armor of Potato Tubers: Nonpolar Metabolite Profiling, Antioxidant Assessment, and Solid-State NMR Compositional Analysis of Suberin-enriched Wound-Healing Tissues,” J. Agric. Food Chem., 63(30), 6810–6822 (2015).

S. Chatterjee, R. Prados-Rosales, B. Itin, S. Tan, A. Casadevall, and R.E. Stark, “Demonstration of a Common Indole-based Aromatic Core in Natural and Synthetic Eumelanins by Solid-state NMR,” Org. Biomol. Chem., 12(34), 6730 - 6736 (2014).

S. Chatterjee, R. Prados-Rosales, B. Itin, S. Tan, A. Casadevall, and R.E. Stark, “Demonstration of a Common Indole-based Aromatic Core in Natural and Synthetic Eumelanins by Solid-state NMR,” Org. Biomol. Chem., 12(34), 6730 - 6736 (2014).

K. Dastmalchi, Q. Cai, K. Zhou, W. Huang, O. Serra, and R.E. Stark, “Completing the Jigsaw Puzzle of Wound-Healing Potato Cultivars: Metabolite Profiling and Antioxidant Activity,” J. Agric. Food Chem., 62, 7963-7975 (2014).

O. Serra,* S. Chatterjee,* M. Figueras, M. Molinas, and R.E. Stark, “Deconstructing a plant macromolecular assembly: chemical architecture, molecular flexibility, and mechanical performance of natural and engineered potato suberins," Biomacromolecules, 15, 799-811 (2014).

T.H. Yeats, W. Huang, S. Chatterjee, H. M-F. Viart, M.H. Clausen, R. E. Stark, and J.K.C. Rose, “Biochemical characterization of CD1 and Putative Orthologs Reveals an Ancient Family of Cutin Synthase-like (CUS) Proteins that are Conserved Among Land Plants,” The Plant J., 77, 667-675 (2014). FEATURED ARTICLE.

R.E. Stark, B. Yu, J. Zhong, B. Yan, G. Wu, and S. Tian, “Environmental NMR: High-resolution Magic-angle Spinning,” in NMR Spectroscopy: A Versatile Tool for Environmental Research, (M.J. Simpson and A.J. Simpson, Eds.), John Wiley & Sons Ltd., Chichester, UK, pp. 87-102 (2014).