Roberto A. Chica, Ph. D.


Roberto A. Chica, Ph. D.
Department of Chemistry
and Biomolecular Sciences
University of Ottawa
10 Marie Curie
Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5

rchica at uottawa dot ca
Phone: (613) 562-5800 x 1988
Fax: (613) 562-5170


Dr. Chica was born in San Salvador, El Salvador. When he was one year old, he moved with his family to Montréal, Canada, where he was raised. He received a B. Sc. degree in Biochemistry from the Université de Montréal. It was at this time that he became fascinated by proteins, in particular by the relationships that exist between protein structure and function. To learn more about this topic, Dr. Chica completed a Ph. D. degree in Chemistry at the Université de Montréal where he worked on enzyme engineering under the supervision of Dr. Joelle Pelletier and Dr. Jeffrey Keillor. He then undertook a postdoctoral fellowship in computational protein design working under Dr. Stephen L. Mayo at the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Chica joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of Ottawa in 2010 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2016 and Full Professor in 2020.


Positions Held

Since 2020
Since 2020
Since 2018


Full Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Ottawa
Editor-in-Chief, Protein Engineering, Design and Selection (Oxford University Press)
Director, NSERC CREATE Advanced Protein Engineering Training, Internships, Courses, and Exhibition (APRENTICE) program
Visiting Scholar, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Science, UC San Francisco
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Ottawa
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Ottawa



Postdoctoral Fellowship
Advisor: Prof. Stephen L. Mayo
Research project: Generation of longer emission wavelength red fluorescent proteins using computationally designed libraries.


Ph. D. Chemistry
Université de Montréal
Advisors: Profs. Joelle N. Pelletier & Jeffrey W. Keillor
Research project: Substrate specificity engineering of TG2 transglutaminase.


B.Sc. Biochemistry
Université de Montréal
Advisor: Prof. Claude Dupont (INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier)
Research project: Structure/function studies of S. lividans xylanase A


Honours & Awards

NSERC Discovery Accelerator (2021)
Melanie O'Neill Young Investigator Award in Biological Chemistry
, Canadian Society for Chemistry (2019)
Young Investigator Award, Biophysical Society of Canada (2019)
Early Researcher Award from the Ministry of Research and Innovation of Ontario (2015)
CNC-IUPAC Travel Award
FRQNT Postdoctoral Fellowship (2007-2009)
Merck-Frosst Scholarship (2006)
Merck Frosst Scholarship (2005)
NSERC Ph. D. Scholarship (2004-2006)
Boehringer-Ingelheim Ph.D. Award (2003)
Graduate Student Award, Université de Montréal (2002)
FRQNT M.Sc. Scholarship (2002)
NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (2000)
NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (1999)


Advisory Board Memberships

Scientific Advisory Board, ProtaBank, the Protein Engineering Database (since 2016)
Editorial Advisory Board, Protein Science (2016-2020)



Center for Catalysis Research and Innovation, University of Ottawa
PROTEO, the Quebec Network for Research on Protein Function, Structure, and Engineering
Institute for Science, Society and Policy, University of Ottawa


Invited Lectures

2023/06/05. 106th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, Vancouver, BC, Canada
2023/03/15. 1st Keystone Conference on Design and Modelling of Biomolecules, Banff, AB, Canada
2022/09/14. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada
2022/09/12. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
2022/06/01. 14th Girona Seminar Conference, Girona, Spain
2022/04/27. University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
2022/04/04. University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA
2021/12/16. Pacifichem 2021, Honolulu, HI, USA
2021/10/13. Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ, USA
2021/04/16. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, TX, USA
2021/04/13. McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada
2021/02/29. University of California Merced, Merced, CA, USA
2021/02/22. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
2021/02/03. Protein Society Webinars: "New Capabilities in Computational Protein Design"
2020/09/18. Barnard College, New York, NY, USA
2020/05/28. 103rd Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
2020/02/25. University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA
2019/12/06. INPEC-APEM Proteins Meeting, Canberra, Australia
2019/09/18. PReART Protein Engineering Symposium, Bayreuth, Germany
2019/07/24. Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology Annual Meeting, Washington DC, USA
2019/07/03. University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
2019/06/03. 102nd Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, Quebec City, QC, Canada
2019/05/28. 5th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society of Canada, Mississauga, ON, Canada
2019/03/05. New York University Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
2018/09/29. XLIII Congress of the Brazilian Biophysics Society, Santos, SP, Brazil
2018/05/16. Université Laval, Quebec City, QC, Canada
2018/03/01. Atum (formerly DNA 2.0), Newark, CA, USA
2018/02/26. University of California - San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA
2017/12/05. Protabit, Pasadena, CA, USA
2017/07/25. 31st Symposium of The Protein Society, Montreal, QC, Canada
2017/06/21. Gordon Research Conference on Proteins, Holderness, NH, USA
2017/05/29. 100th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, Toronto, ON, Canada
2017/05/19. Biomolecular Machines Conference, Banff, AB, Canada
2016/11/18. Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA
2016/10/27. University of California - San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA
2016/09/22. Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA, USA
2016/05/20. Abbott Point of Care, Ottawa, ON, Canada
2016/02/19. University of California - Davis, Davis, CA, USA
2016/02/18. University of California - Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA
2016/02/15. Caltech, Pasadena, CA, USA
2015/11/25. Université de Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada
2015/11/06. Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON, Canada
2015/07/29. Rosetta Conference, Leavenworth, WA, USA
2015/04/29. Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA
2015/04/01. Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA
2015/03/31. Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA, USA
2015/02/26. Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada
2014/11/28. Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada
2014/11/21. University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
2014/06/01. 97th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, Vancouver, BC, Canada
2014/04/11. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY, USA
2013/12/11. Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, QC, Canada
2013/05/16. PROTEO Annual Meeting, Laval, QC, Canada
2012/11/13. University of Ottawa, Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, Ottawa, ON, Canada
2012/08/28. Syracuse University, Department of Chemistry, Syracuse, NY, USA
2012/06/25. 2nd China-Canada Systems Biology Symposium, Ottawa, ON, Canada
2012/04/19. La Cité Collégiale, Ottawa, ON, Canada
2011/06/06. 94th Canadian Chemistry Conference & Exhibition, Montreal, QC, Canada
2011/05/20. OCCI Day, Ottawa-Carleton Chemistry Institute, Ottawa, ON, Canada
2011/04/08. Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM), Montreal, QC, Canada
2011/02/28. Concordia University, Montreal, QC, Canada
2010/11/30. INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, Laval, QC, Canada
2010/10/01. Iogen Corporation, Ottawa, ON, Canada