Daniel Burden, Ph.D.

Professor, Analytical Chemistry
On Faculty since 2000

Phone: (630)752-5065


NRC Postdoctoral Fellow, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 1998-2000

Ph.D., Analytical Chemistry, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 1997

B.S., Chemistry & Physics, Taylor University, Upland, IN, 1992

About Daniel Burden

After finishing his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry at Indiana University, Dr. Burden spent 2.5 years at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, MD as a National Research Council Postdoctoral Associate where he received training in biophysics.  He teaches Analytical Chemistry courses that feature topics in scanning probe microscopy and nanoscale manipulation, in addition to the core Analytical curriculum.  His research program aims to develop new measurement methodologies for biomolecules in lipid membranes, particularly at the single-molecule level, while simultaneously increasing knowledge of basic chemical and physical factors that give rise to complex dynamics in biologically relevant samples.  This includes optical, electrical, and force measurements of lipids, ion channels, peripheral membrane proteins, compounds that mimic cytoskeleton behavior, as well as biomaterials that interface with various lipid or cell membranes.

Single-Molecule Spectroscopy of Biomolecules

Ultra-sensitive molecular fluorescence techniques provide a powerful way to analyze the complex behavior of biomolecules because distributional outliers can be observed on an individual basis. This can not be done with any classical approach that measures the average of an ensemble. We are currently employing both confocal and wide-field single-molecule fluorescence microscopy to study the structure, function, and behavior of biomolecules in a number of different chemical systems. Applications of the research range from improvements in the biocompatibility of medical implants to new antiviral and cancer fighting drugs. Opportunities exist for students to pursue research projects in a variety of related areas. Several areas are briefly outlined below.

Probing Diffusion in 3D

Confocal microscopy enables a unique 3D view of samples that is not possible with other forms of microscopy. Dr. Burden utilizes confocal fluorescence microscopy to study a variety of biomembrane interfaces. Such interfaces can be used to model the behavior of cell membranes and are employed in the design of various chemical sensors. Probing samples such as the unsupported lipid bilayer shown here allows the diffusive motion of molecular components to be characterized in specified nanometer-scale regions in or around the membrane. In addition, by controlling and measuring the pressure across a membrane, molecular motion is being studied as a function of applied mechanical stress. See 3D movie.

Ion Channel Dynamics

Another facet of Dr. Burden's research focuses on the dynamic behavior of channel-forming proteins in lipid membranes. Various ion channels participate in the propagation of nerve impulses and are found in poisonous venoms and cell-killing toxins. Other mechanically sensitive channels within the inner ear facilitate the detection of acoustical vibrations and help provide a sense of balance. Electrical recording techniques allow individual channels to be characterized as ionic current passes through the pore interior. Combining the instrumentation for single-channel electrical recording with single-molecule fluorescence microscopy provides a means for simultaneously interrogating channels with light and electricity in real time. The combined approach creates an information-rich technique for the basic study of channel dynamics, molecular transport, and intercellular communication.

Wide-field Imaging

The microscopy equipment in the Burden lab is also being used to perform high-speed video imaging of single molecules as they diffuse in lipid membranes. Investigators are using this instrumentation to divulge new insights into the aggregation of the alpha-hemolysin protein. This protein has been identified as a key factor in MRSA infections, a notorious strain of antibiotic-resistant super bugs. View video.

Simulating Single-Molecule Diffusion Dynamics

Dr. Burden’s lab also develops computer simulations of diffusion to provide an ancillary method of interpreting data from single-molecule fluorescence experiments. In this illustration, diffusion is mimicked by causing simulated molecules to move randomly across a flat 2D surface. The circle in the center represents the 1/e^2 boundary of a confocal microscope’s detection region. When fluorescent molecules enter this area, photons are produced and detected as a function of simulated time. A record of individual molecular entries and exits from the detection circle is registered as a plot of photon intensity vs. time.

Partnering with Local Business

Biomolecular Nanotechnologies and Measurements (BiNano) is a small business that works in conjunction with Wheaton College to provide scientific research and consulting services. It also functions as an incubator to stimulate new investigative ventures involving Wheaton College faculty, staff, and students. The company laboratories are housed on the campus of Wheaton College. The main business office is located at 203 Kellogg Pl., Wheaton, IL. For more information contact Dr. Daniel Burden (630) 752-5065 or Dr. Lisa Burden (630) 752-5693.

Courses Taught 

  • General Chemistry
  • Introduction to Analytical Chemistry
  • Advanced Analytical Chemistry I
  • Advanced Analytical Chemistry II

Membership in Professional Societies 

  • American Chemical Society
  • Sigma Xi, Scientific Honor Society
  • Biophysical Society
  • American Scientific Affiliation


Honors and Research Support

  • NRC Postdoctoral Fellow, 1998
  • Wheaton College Alumni Association, 2000- present
  • Camille and Henry Dreyfus Faculty Start up Award, 2000
  • ACS-PRF Award, 2001, 2004, 2007
  • Research Corporation Award, 2001, 2004
  • Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, 2005
  • Indiana University Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Chemical Research, 2005
  • NSF-RUI, 2006, 2010
  • NSF-MRI, 2007, 2010

Research Students, 2001-present

(Click for bios, projects, posters, presentations)
Catherine Baker, Dan Bailey, Derek Bailey, Zach Barton, Patti Blair, Mark Brown, Joe Burkett, Josh Carr, Emily Chandler, Wayland Cheng, Michael Culbertson, Dan Dreyer, Aaron DeVries, Sam Dillman, Bryon Drown, Dan Fager, Jared Ellingsen, Julie Fink, Ryan Himes, Katie Hubbell, Brynna Jones, Jared Kindt, Daniel Kim, Jonathan Kooiman, Jonathan Lam, Amy Larson, Matt Lovell, Travis Lowens, Joe Norton, Ashley Paulson, Emmanuel Pederson, Steven Poppen, Philipp Prinz, Nathan Skinner, Alyssa Smith, Kelsey Schuster, Dee Ann Stults, Michael Madison Taylor, Donna Van Cott, Emily Rupp Wiebracht, Abigail Williams, Josh Williams


Selected Papers Published and/or Presented 

(student co-authors in bold)

Reiner, J.E., Robertson, J.W.F., Burden, D.L., Keranen Burden, L.M., Balijepalli, A., Kasianowicz, J.J., “Temperature Sculpting in Yactoliter Volumes,” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 10.1021/ja3039892, 2013.

Reiner, J.E., Balijepalli, A., Robertson, J.W.F., Drown, B.S., Burden, D.L., Kasianowicz, J.J., “The Effects of Diffusion on an Exonuclease/Nanopore-Based DNA Sequencing Engine,” J. Chem. Phys., 137, 214903, 2012.

Lam, J, Culbertson, M.J., Skinner, N.P. Barton, Z., Burden, D.L., “Information Content in Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy: Binary Mixtures and Detection Volume Distortion,” Anal. Chem., 83, 5268-5274, 2011.

Bailey, D.J., Kindt, J.T., Taylor, M.M., Paulson, A.R., Jones, B.H., Hubbell, K.L., Keranen-Burden, L.M., Burden, D.L., “Post-hoc Vibration Mitigation for Single-Molecule Tracking and Diffusion Measurements in Lipid Membranes”, Spetrosc. Lett., 43, 586-596, 2010.

Reiner, J., Jahn, A., Stavis, S. Culbertson, M., Vreeland, W., Burden, D., Geist, J., Gaitan, M., "Accurate Optical Analysis of Single Molecule Entrapment in Nanoscale Vesicles", Anal. Chem., 82,180-188, 2010.

Carr, J., Himes, R.D., Keung, C.H., Burden, D.L., Walhout, P.W., “Heterogeneous Translational Dynamics of Rhodamine B in Polyelectrolyte Multilayer Thin Films Observed by Single Molecule Microscopy,” Langmuir, 25, 8330-8339, 2009.

Williams, J.T.B, Culbertson, M.J., Burden, D.L., “Numerical Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy – A Unique Opportunity for Advancement in Biotechnological Systems Research, Am. Biotech. Lab., 26, 6, 2008.

Culbertson, M.J., Williams, J.T.B., Cheng, W., Stults, D.A, Wiebracht, E., Kasianowicz, J.J., Burden, D.L., “Numerical Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy for the Analysis of Molecular Dynamics under Non-standard Conditions, Anal. Chem., 79, 4031-4039, 2007.

Culbertson, M.J., Burden, D.L., “A Distributed Algorithm for Multi-tau Autocorrelation,” Rev. Sci. Inst., 78, 044102, 2007.

Chandler, E.L., Smith, A.L., Burden, L.M., Kasianowicz, J.J., Burden, D.L., “Membrane Surface Dynamics of DNA-Threaded Nanopores Revealed by Simultaneous Single-Molecule Optical and Ensemble Electrical Recording,” Langmuir, 20, 898-905, 2004.

Burden, D.L., Walhout, P.K., Elliott, J.T, Chandler, E.L., Scharf, R.G., Culbertson, M.J., Stults, D.A., Rupp, E.L., Poppen, S.D., “Measuring Diffusion in Nanoscale Environments with Single-Molecule Confocal Fluorescence Microscopy,” Spectrosc. Lett., 37, 129-149, 2004.

Elliott, J.T., Burden, D.L., Woodward, J., Seghal, A., Douglas, J., “Phospholipid Monolayers Supported on Spun Cast Polystyrene Films,” Langmuir, 19, 2275-2283, 2003.

Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies Meeting, Raleigh, NC, October, ’10, Skinner, N., Prinz, G., Bailey, D. Kindt, J. Taylor, M., Culbertson, M., Burden, D.L., “Recognizing Patterns in Single Molecule fluorescence Microscopy using Multivariate Analysis”

American Chemical Society, GLRM, Lincolnshire, IL, May ‘09, Walhout, P.K., Burden, D.L. Carr, J.K., "Heterogeneous Diffusion Dynamics of Rhodamine B in Polyelectrolyte Multilayer Thin Films Observed by Single Molecule Microscopy"

American Chemical Society, Philadelphia, PA, Aug ‘08, Walhout, P.K., Burden, D.L., Carr, J.K., "Single-Molecule Translation Diffusion of Rhodamine in Polyelectrolyte Thin Films",

ASBMB, San Diego, CA, March ’08, Paulson, A.R., Jones, B.H., Bailey, D.J., Hubbell, K.L., Burden, D.L., Keranen-Burden, L.M. "Recombinant expression, purification, and construction of fluorescently labeled alpha-hemolysin (HL) for single-molecule optical studies"

ASBMB, San Diego, CA, March ’08, Taylor, M.M., Bailey, D.J., Paulson, A.R., Keranen-Burden, L.M., Burden, D.L. "Electrophysiological characterization of derivatized alpha-hemolysin (HL) for single-molecule fluorescence studies in planar lipid membranes"

Biophysical Society, Baltimore, MD, March 3-7, ‘07; Burden, D.L., Culbertson, M. J., "Implementing Numerical Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy Under Non-Standard Measurement Conditions to Accurately Assess Molecular Dynamics."

PittCon, Chicago, IL, Feb 25-March 1, ‘07, Burden, D. L., Culbertson, M. J., Williams, J. T., “Numerical Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy for the Analysis of Complex Biomolecular Dynamics.”

PittCon, Orlando, FL, Feb 27-March 4, ‘05, Kim, D., Cheng, W., Burden D.L., “Stabilizing Lipid Membrane Sensing Platforms with a Cytoskeletal Network.”

PittCon, Orlando, FL, Feb 27-March 4, ‘05, Burden, D.L., Chandler, E.L., Smith, A.L., Burden, L.M., Kasianowicz, J.J., “Simultaneous Single-Molecule Optical and Electrical Recording of DNA/Protein Analytes Interacting with Nanopores in Membrane Bilayers.”

American Chemical Society, GLRM, Peoria, IL, Oct. 17-20, ‘04, Cheng, W., Kim, D., Burden D.L., “Stabilizing Planar Lipid Bilayer Membranes.”

American Chemical Society, GLRM, Peoria, IL, Oct. 17-20, ‘04, Walhout, P.K., Burden, D.L., “Single-Molecule Diffusion Measurements in Nanoscale Environments.”

American Chemical Society, GLRM, Peoria, IL, Oct. 17-20, ‘04, Burden, D.L., Chandler, E.L., Smith, A.L., Burden, L.M., Kasianowicz, J.J., Culbertson, M.J., “Probing Lipid and Nanopore Dynamics in Biomembrane Systems with Single-Molecule Microscopy and Electrical Recording.”

Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Society (FACSS), Portland, OR, Oct. 3-7, ‘04, Chandler, E.L., Smith, A.L., Burden, L.M., Kasianowicz, J.J., Burden, D.L.  “Simultaneous Single-Molecule Optical and Electrical Recording of DNA Interactions with Nanopores and Lipid membranes”

Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Society (FACSS), Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Oct. 19-23, ‘03; Burden, D.L., Culbertson, M.J., Elliott, J.T., Woodward, J., Stults, D.A., Poppen, S.D., Rupp, E.R  “Characterizing Diffusion on Biomimetic Surfaces with Single-Molecule Fluorescence Microscopy and Single-Event Duration Histograms.”

Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Society (FACSS), Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Oct. 19-23, ‘03; Culbertson, M.J., Burden, D.L., “Chemometric Approaches to Quantifying Single-Molecule Surface Diffusion with the Single Event Duration Histogram.”

American Chemical Society, New Orleans, LA, March 23-27, ’03; Brown, M.C., Burden, D.L., “Investigating Single Molecule Fluorescence Dynamics on Surfaces.”

American Chemical Society, New Orleans, LA, March 23-27, ’03; Stults, D.A., Rupp, E.L., Burden, D.L., “Simulating and Analyzing Molecular Movement in Lipid Membranes.”

CUR (Council on Undergraduate Research), 9th National Conference, Connecticut College, June 19-23, ’02; Burden, D.L., Chandler, E.L., Lovell, M.E., Poppen, S.D., Rupp, E.L., “Research in Single Molecule Dynamics with Undergraduates.”

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