Kathryn A. McMenimen

  • Associate Professor of Chemistry
  • Chair of Chemistry
Kathryn A. McMenimen

As a biological chemist, Kathryn McMenimen is drawn to how and why molecules interact, and particularly how they function in biological systems. Her research focuses on understanding protein-protein interactions, and how these interactions relate to protein folding, protein misfolding, and disease. She studies heat shock proteins, a family of proteins that she describes as “molecular chaperones involved in maintaining proper cellular protein folding.”

McMenimen is trying to determine how the structure of small heat shock proteins underlies their function. She currently is working with several undergraduates on projects that manipulate their structure. These projects involve designing synthetic proteins and related structures, incorporating mutations into the proteins, and purifying the proteins to perform functional assays.

“These proteins are implicated in several protein misfolding diseases (such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cataracts), which is one of the reasons why I am excited about developing a better understanding of their function,” she explains. “Our students are very interested in working on  scientific research that is often relevant to their lives outside of Mount Holyoke.”

At Mount Holyoke, McMenimen teaches organic chemistry I and II and biochemistry. Some of her student researchers have accompanied her to the national meeting of the American Association of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the national meeting of the Protein Society where they have presented findings.

“One of the greatest things for me about being at Mount Holyoke is getting to work with and inspire amazing student scientists to pursue their interests in chemistry and chemical biology,” says McMenimen.

Areas of Expertise

chemical biology, heat shock proteins, protein-protein interactions, protein misfolding and disease


  • Ph.D., California Institute of Technology
  • A.B., Mount Holyoke College

Happening at Mount Holyoke

Recent Campus News

Mount Holyoke Professor Karen Remmler spoke to the New York Times about turning a school that was used as a prison in Ukraine into a memorial and about the tensions that can arise when creating memorials where trauma has occurred.

Mount Holyoke postdoctoral researcher Rachel Keeffe has published a paper that reveals startling new facts about the tongues of cane toads.

As Mount Holyoke marks the one hundred fiftieth year of the teaching of art history, its Department of Art History and Architectural Studies is celebrating its long history and is working to ensure it evolves to meet the changing nature of the field.

Recent Publications

Rittika Shamsuddin*, Milka Doktorova*, Sheila Jaswal, Audrey Lee-St. John and Kathryn McMenimen. Computational Prediction of Hinge Axes in Proteins. BMC Bioinformatics, 15(8), 2014
* indicates undergraduate author

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