Nick Riley

Postdoctoral Research with Carolyn Bertozzi at Stanford University, CA

hailing from

Louisville, KY


Double-majored in chemistry and psychology at the University of South Carolina, with minors in criminology and neuroscience.

Ph.D. Studies


Title of Ph.D. Dissertation

Advancing electron transfer dissociation technologies for characterization of proteomes and post-translational modifications.

Early Research Interest

I double-majored in chemistry and psychology at the University of South Carolina, with minors in criminology and neuroscience. I stitched these areas together because I wanted to go into forensics science. (Like many young viewers, I grew up thinking CSI was the coolest thing.) I started doing forensics research in an analytical chemistry lab at Carolina, which introduced me to many analytical techniques. I soon realized I was most interested in the technology/instrumentation we used in that lab, and it was the mass spectrometry that I became fascinated with there that started me down the path I’m on now.

“The grad students in the group were engaged and happy and welcoming when I met them – and the research is exciting and high caliber.”

Why the Coon lab?

I applied to schools strong in mass spectrometry, and ultimately decided on Madison partly because it seemed to have a good mix of strong research and happy grad students. Professor Coon was most on my radar—I knew that he’d be the first person who I’d try to work for if I came here. I was really interested in instrumentation, and the Coon lab had made its name in that, though it’s now known for doing both instrumentation and application.

Focus of Work

Most of my projects had an instrumentation focus, and they were largely about developing technologies around electron-transfer dissociation. I had my hands in everything the lab did in relation to ETD and negative ETD (NETD), and I worked on both fundamental aspects of ion-ion reactions and application of these methods to characterize proteins and post-translational modifications. Focuses of my work included protein phosphorylation and glycosylation. These are biologically relevant PTMs that can present certain analytical challenges that ETD and NETD can help address.

Earn your Ph.D. with us

The Coon Group is always on the lookout for new members.  Professor Coon accepts students from several UW-Madison doctoral programs including Chemistry, the Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB), and Cellular & Molecular Pathology.