University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

Robert Birge

BirgeRobertRobert Birge
Harold S. Schwenk Sr. Distinguished Professor

Department of Chemistry
55 North Eagleville Road
Storrs, CT 06269
Phone: (860) 486-6720
Email:  Web:




  • NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University, 1973-75
  • Ph.D. Wesleyan University
  • B.S. Yale University


Research Focus

  • Structure function relationships in rhodopsin and the cone pigments.
  • Use of bacteriorhodopsin and proteorhodopsin in artificial retinas, holographic associative memories, photovoltaic solar energy converters, high-speed sensors and three-dimensional memories.
  • Use of directed evolution to optimize proteins for device applications.
  • Large-scale molecular orbital theory of protein structure and function.



  • Connecticut Medal of Science for 2009, May, 2009.
  • 3M Award of Canada for 2001-2002 in Physical Chemistry, March 2002.
  • Connecticut Innovations 2001 Annual Technology Award, September 25, 2001.
  • Time Digital Top 50 Cyber Elite, Time Incorporated, October, 1997.
  • American Chemical Society Sectional Awards for Research: 1983, 1988, 1993.


Current Publications

“A Conserved Aromatic Residue Regulating Photosensitivity in Short-Wavelength Sensitive Cone Visual Pigments.” C. M. Kuemmel, M. N. Sandberg, R. R. Birge, and B. E. Knox (2013) Biochemistry 52, 5084-5091.

“Directed Evolution of Bacteriorhodopsin for Applications in Bioelectronics.” N. L. Wagner, J. A. Greco, M. J. Ranaghan, and R. R. Birge (2013) J. R. Soc., Interface10, 20130197 (PDF available upon request).

“Photoactive Yellow Protein Terahertz Response: Hydration, Heating and Intermediate States.” D. K. George, J. R. Knab, Y. He, M. Kumauchi, R. R. Birge, W. D. Hoff, and A. G. Markelz (2013) IEEE Trans. Terahertz Sci. Technol. 3, 288-294.

“The Nature of the Intramolecular Charge Transfer State in Peridinin.” N. L. Wagner, J. A. Greco, M. M. Enriquez, H. A. Frank, and R. R. Birge (2013) Biophys. J. 104, 1314-1325.

“Energetics and Dynamics of the Low-Lying Electronic States of Constrained Polyenes: Implications for Infinite Polyenes.” R. L. Christensen, M. M. Enriquez, N. L. Wagner, A. Y. Peacock-Villada, C. Scriban, R. R. Schrock, T. Polivka, H. A. Frank, and R. R. Birge (2013) J. Phys. Chem. A 117, 1449-1465.

“Effect of Molecular Symmetry on the Spectra and Dynamics of the Intramolecular Charge Transfer (ICT) State of Peridinin.” M. M. Enriquez, S. Hananoki, S. Hasegawa, T. Kajikawa, S. Katsumura, N. L. Wagner, R. R. Birge, and H. A. Frank (2013) J. Phys. Chem. B 116, 10748-10756.

“Visual Resotoration Using Microbial Rhodopsins. N. L. Wagner, J. A. Greco, and R. R. Birge, in Bionanotechnology: Biological Self-Assembly and Its Applications, B. H. A.” Rehm, ed. Caister Academic Press, Norfolk, United Kingdom (2013), pp. 205-240.

“Fourier Transform Holographic Associative Processors Based on Bacteriorhodopsin.” J. A. Greco, N. L. Wagner, and R. R. Birge (2012) Int. J. Unconventional Comput. 8, 433-457.

“Meso-Arylporpholactones and their Reduction Products.” C. Bruckner, J. Ogikubo, J. R. McCarthy, J. Akhigbe, M. A. Hyland, P. Daddario, J. L. Worlinsky, M. Zeller, J. T. Engle, C. J. Ziegler, M. J. Ranaghan, M. N. Sandberg, and R. R. Birge (2012)J. Org. Chem. 77, 6480-6494.

“Biomolecular Electronics and Protein-Based Optical Computing.” J. A. Greco, N. L. Wagner, M. J. Ranaghan, S. Rajasekaran, and R. R. Birge, in Biomolecular Information Processing: From Logic Systems to Smart Sensors and Actuators, E. Katz, ed. Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, Germany (2012), pp. 33-59.