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Ruth Stark

Faculty and Staff Profiles

Ruth E. Stark

Chair - Distinguished Professor
Director, CUNY Institute for Macromolecular Assemblies


Additional Departments/Affiliated Programs::

CDI 1302
Phone Number: 
Personal Website:

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 functional regulation of nutritionally important fatty acid-binding proteins,and the molecular development of melanin pigments associated with human fungal infections.  Professor Stark hassupervised more than 100 research trainees from high school through postdoctoral levels, including 45 women and 20 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 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 molecular biology 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 

T. Isaacson, D. Kosma, A.J. Matas, G.J. Buda, Y. He, B. Yu, A. Pravitasari, J. D. Batteas, R. E. Stark, M. A. Jenks and J. K. C. Rose, “Cutin deficiency in the tomato fruit cuticle consistently affects resistance to microbial infection and biomechanical properties, but not transpirational water loss,” The Plant J., 60, 363-377 (2009). 

H. Wu, K. Su, X. Guan, M.E. Sublette, and R. E. Stark, “Assessing the Size, Stability, and Utility of Isotropically Tumbling Bicelle Systems for Structural Biology,” Biochim. Biophys. Acta – Biomembranes,  1798, 482–488 (2010). doi:10.1016/j.bbamem.2009.11.004

W. Wang, S. Tian, and R.E. Stark, “Isolation and Identification of Triglycerides and Ester Oligomers from Partial Degradation of Potato Suberin,” J. Agric. Food Chem., 58, 1040-1045 (2010).

X. Guan and R.E. Stark, “A General Protocol for Temperature Calibration of MAS NMR Probes at Arbitrary Spinning Speeds," Solid State NMR, 38, 74-76 (2010), doi: 10.1016/j.ssnmr.2010.10.001

Y. He, R. Estephan, X. Yang, A. Vela, H. Wang, C. Bernard, and R.E. Stark, “An NMR-Based Structural Rationale for Contrasting Stoichiometry and Ligand Binding Site(s) in Fatty Acid-binding Proteins,” Biochemistry, 50, 1283-1295 (2011), doi: 10.1021/bi101307h. PMCID: 3072248.

A.J. Matas, T.H. Yeats, G.J. Buda, Y. Zheng, S. Chatterjee, T. Tohge, L. Ponnala, A. Adato, A. Aharoni R.E. Stark, A.R. Fernie, J. Fei, J.J. Giovannoni,, and J.K.C. Rose, “Tissue and cell type specific transcriptome profiling of expanding tomato fruit provides insights into metabolic and regulatory specialization and cuticle formation,” The Plant Cell, 23, 3893-3910 (2011)doi: 10.1105/tpc.111.091173. PMCID: 3246317

J. Zhang, Y. Zhao, X. Guan, R.E. Stark, D.L. Akins, and J.W. Lee, “Formation of Graphene Oxide Nanocomposites from Carbon Dioxide Using Ammonia Borane,” J. Phys. Chem., 116, 2639–2644 (2012). NIHMSID # 350959. PMCID: 3277841.

S. Chatterjee, S. Sarkar, J. Oktawiec, Z. Mao, O. Nitsoo, and R.E. Stark, “Isolation and biophysical study of fruit cuticles,” invited article for J. Vis. Exp. (JoVE), 61, e3529 (2012). doi: 10.3791/3529. PMID 22490984. PMCID: 3460570

O. Serra, W. Huang, S. Chatterjee, and R. E. Stark, “What Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Can Tell Us About Protective Tissues,” invited mini-review for Plant Sci., 195, 120-124 (2012). doi: 10.1016/j.plantsci. 2012.06.013. PMCID: 3428714.

S. Chatterjee, R. Prados-Rosales, S. Frases, B. Itin, A. Casadevall, and R.E. Stark, “Using Solid-state NMR to Monitor the Molecular Consequences of Cryptococcus neoformans Melanization with Different Catecholamine Precursors,” Biochemistry, 51, 6080-6088 (2012). doi: 10.1021/bi300325m. PMCID: 3448835.

S. Chatterjee, F. Santos, S. Abiven, R.E. Stark, and J. A. Bird, “Elucidating the chemical structure of pyrogenic organic matter by combining magnetic resonance, mid-infrared spectroscopy and mass spectrometry” Org. Geochem., 51, 35-44 (2012); Corrigendum. doi: 10.1016/j.orggeochem.2012.07.006.

S. Sarkar, S. Chatterjee, N. Medina, and R.E. Stark, “Touring the Tomato: A Suite of Chemistry Laboratory Experiments,” J. Chem. Educ., on web 12/14/12; 90, 368-371 (2013). doi: 10.1021/ed3004148  NIHMSID #429805. PMID: 23526490. PMCID: PMC3603577.

W. S. Lagakos, X. Guan, S.-Y. Ho, L. R. Sawicki, B. Corsico, S. Kodukula, K. Murota, R. E. Stark, and J. Storch, “Liver Fatty Acid-binding Protein Binds Monoacylglycerol in vitro and in Mouse Liver Cytosol,” J. Biol. Chem., 288, 19805-19815 (2013). doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.473579.  PMCID: 3707684

R.E. Stark, B. Yu, J. Zhong, B. Yan, G. Wu, and S. Tian, “Environmental NMR: High-resolution Magic-angle Spinning,” invited overview in “NMR Spectroscopy: A Versatile Tool for Environmental Research,” M.J. Simpson and A.J. Simpson, Eds., eMagRes, Wiley Online Library, 2, 377-388 (2013) doi: 10.1002/9780470034590.emrstm1340.

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., on web 12/30/13; 77, 667-675 (2014). doi: 10.1111/tpj.12422.  PMCID: 3951977.  FEATURED ARTICLE.

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, on web 2/6/14; 15, 799-811 (2014). doi: 10.1021/bm401620d. PMCID: 3983150

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., on web 7/7/14; 62, 7963-7975 (2014). doi: 10.1021/jf501330h.   PMCID: 4126508

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., on web 7/8/14; 12 (34), 6730 - 6736 (2014). doi: 10.1039/c4ob01066c.  PMCID: 4144758

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).

S. Chatterjee, R. Prados-Rosales, B. Itin, A. Casadevall, and R.E. Stark, “Solid-state NMR Reveals the Carbon-based Molecular Architecture of Melanized Cryptococcus neoformans Fungal Cells,” J. Biol. Chem., on web 3/30/15; 290, 13779-13790 (2015).  doi:10.1074/jbc.M114.618389.  PMCID: 25825492

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., on web 7/13/15; 63(30), 6810–6822 (2015).  DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.5b03206. PMCID:4857770

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., on web 8/5/15; 63(33), 7326-7332 (2015).  DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.5b02713.  PMCID: 4862413

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.  DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2015.01463.    PMCID: 4687393

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, on web 12/10/15; 17(1), 215–224 (2016). doi: 10.1021/acs.biomac.5b01321. PMCID: 4852698

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, on web 12/28/15; 60(3), 1216–1225 (2016). DOI: 10.1128/AAC.02190-15.    PMCID: 4775914

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, on web 4/28/16; 210, 473-480 (2016).  doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.04.123.  PMCID: PMC4857770.

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). doi:10.1007/s10533-016-0245-1.
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).  DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.6b05179. PMID 28215068.
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). doi: 10.1016/j.bbrep.2017.03.005.
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). doi: 10.1016/j.bbrep.2017.05.001. NIHMS 880244.
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, online 10/18/17, 163, 1540-1556 (2018).  doi: 10.1099/mic.0.000552.

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, online 12/27/17, 147, 30-48 (2018).  doi: 10.016/j.phytochem.2017.12.011. NIHMS930878.  PubMed #29288888.


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