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We take inspiration from Nature to build new proteins that guide our understanding of how natural proteins function: we can distill complex natural proteins into simple model proteins where we have exact control over the physicochemical properties of the entire system. Our group combines protein design strategies with biochemistry, biophysics, and structural biology to 1) test mechanistic hypotheses of membrane protein structure and function, and 2) define novel protein-protein interactions in immunology for engineering protein-based therapeutics.