Chemistry Major Sam Zinga Receives Prestigious McMullen Award

Chemistry major Sam Zinga has been named the 2019 McMullen Award Winner. The McMullen Award is one of the most prestigious awards given by Emory College to graduating seniors. Sam joined the Widicus Weaver Group as a high school intern from the Gwinnett School of Mathematics and Technology in the summer of 2014. In addition to continuing undergraduate research with the Widicus Weaver Group, Sam served as a peer leader with Dr. Antonio Brathwaite in physical chemistry courses during his time at Emory. He is headed to Yale University School of Medicine to pursue a year-long research position next fall. In future, he plans to pursue an MD/PhD.

Read more about Sam’s Emory journey and future plans in this Emory News Center profile.

EBCC Featured in Emory News

The Emory Biotech Consulting Club, founded by members of the Wuest Lab and supported in part by Dennis Liotta, is featured in a recent Emory News report. The article includes quotes from Henry Zecca (Jui Group) and Bill Wuest.

Young Emory scientists wanted a taste of what biotech business careers might be like. So they visited the world’s largest poultry industry conference, and got advice from officials at the Food and Drug Administration – all within a couple months.

“I learned a ton about chickens – more than I thought possible. I’ve been explaining it all to my friends,” says Henry Zecca, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry.

Zecca’s experience and others emerged at a “Gala” Tuesday evening showcasing the Emory Biotech Consulting Club, which aimed to pair student advisory teams with fledgling startup companies emerging from university research.

The full article is available online from the Emory Report.

Two Chemistry Majors Awarded Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

Chemistry majors Austin Lai and Liz Enyenihi have been selected as 2019 Goldwater Scholars, the nations’ premier scholarship for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences, and engineering. The college juniors will each receive $7,500 per year until the completion of their undergraduate degree to go towards the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board. This year, the competition received over 5,000 applications for only 496 scholarships.

A Woodruff Scholar, Enyenihi has modeled RNA exosome malfunction in a budding yeast model system to explore why the mutations in the genes that encode components of this complex cause such distinct, sometimes fatal, diseases working in the lab of Dr. Anita Corbett.

Lai, a biology and chemistry double major, is researching Fragile X Syndrome in the lab of Dr. Gary J. Bassell, professor and chair of the Department of Cell Biology in the School of Medicine.

Read more about these amazing scholars, and all four 2019 awardees from Emory, in the Emory Report. [Full Article]

April Research Round-Up

Congratulations to our amazing research teams here in the Department of Chemistry for their publications this month!

Bowman Group

Qu, C., & Bowman, J. M. (2019). A fragmented, permutationally invariant polynomial approach for potential energy surfaces of large molecules: Application to N-methyl acetamideThe Journal of chemical physics150(14), 141101.

Yang, B., Zhang, P., Qu, C., Stancil, P., Bowman, J., Balakrishnan, N., & Forrey, R. (2019). Full-dimensional quantum rovibrational scattering of SO with H2*Bulletin of the American Physical Society.

Dunham Group

Srinivas, P., Goralski, T. D., Keiler, K. C., & Dunham, C. M. (2019). Alternative mechanisms of ribosome stalling rescue in the gram-negative bacterium Francisella tularensisThe FASEB Journal33(1_supplement), 628-3.

Hoffer, E. D., Maehigashi, T., Fredrick, K., & Dunham, C. M. (2019). Ribosomal am biguity (ram) mutations promote 30S domain closure and thereby increase miscodingThe FASEB Journal33(1_supplement), 628-2.

Dunham, C. M., Hoffer, E. D., Nguyen, H. A., Subramanian, S., Hong, S., & Maehigashi, T. (2019). RNA-mediated Mechanisms of Translation ControlThe FASEB Journal33(1_supplement), 100-1.

Zaldana, K. S., Pavelich, I., Moller, A., & Dunham, C. M. (2019). Dissecting the gene regulation of Proteus vulgaris Rts1 HigB-HigA toxin-antitoxin systemThe FASEB Journal33(1_supplement), 458-20.

Pavelich, I., & Dunham, C. M. (2019). Mechanism and stability of type II bacterial toxin-antitoxin complexes and the role of regulated antitoxin proteolysis that releases toxinThe FASEB Journal33(1_supplement), 463-8.

Nguyen, H. A., & Dunham, C. M. (2019). Importance of the m1G37 modification and 32–38 pairing in tRNAPro (CCG) on decoding and tRNA stabilityThe FASEB Journal33(1_supplement), 630-6.

Dyer Group

Sanchez, M. K., Wu, C. H., Adams, M. W., & Dyer, R. B. (2019). Optimizing electron transfer from CdSe QDs to hydrogenase for photocatalytic H 2 productionChemical Communications.

Deng, H., Dyer, R. B., & Callender, R. (2019). Active Site Glu165 Activation in Triosephosphate Isomerase and its Deprotonation KineticsThe Journal of Physical Chemistry B.

Evangelista Group

Zhang, T., Li, C., & Evangelista, F. A. (2019). Improving the efficiency of the multireference driven similarity renormalization group via sequential transformation, density fitting, and the non-interacting virtual orbital approximationarXiv preprint arXiv:1903.11637.

Li, C., Lindh, R., & Evangelista, F. A. (2019). Dynamically weighted multireference perturbation theory: Combining the advantages of multi-state and state-averaged methodsThe Journal of Chemical Physics150(14), 144107.

Heemstra Group

Lackey, H., Peterson, E. M., Chen, Z., Harris, J. M., & Heemstra, J. M. (2019). Thermostability Trends of TNA: DNA Duplexes Reveal Strong Purine DependenceACS synthetic biology.

Ayele, T., Knutson, S. D., Ellipilli, S., Hwang, H., & Heemstra, J. M. (2019). Fluorogenic Photoaffinity Labeling of Proteins in Living CellsBioconjugate Chemistry.

Heaven Group

Le, A. T., Nakhate, S. G., Nguyen, D. T., Steimle, T. C., & Heaven, M. C. (2019). Characterization of gas-phase thorium nitride. The Journal of chemical physics150(14), 144304.

Hill Group

Tao, M., Li, Y., Geletii, Y. V., Hill, C. L., & Wang, X. (2019). Aerobic oxidation of glycerol catalyzed by M salts of PMo12O403-(M= K+, Zn2+, Cu2+, Al3+, Cr3+, Fe3+)Applied Catalysis A: General.

Tian, Y., Plonka, A. M., Ebrahim, A. M., Palomino, R. M., Senanayake, S. D., Balboa, A., … & Mitchell, M. B. (2019). A Correlated Multimodal Approach Reveals Key Details of Nerve-Agent Decomposition by Single Site Zr-Based Polyoxometalates. The journal of physical chemistry letters.

Ke Group

Wang, W., Chen, S., An, B., Huang, K., Bai, T., Xu, M., … & Wei, B. (2019). Complex wireframe DNA nanostructures from simple building blocksNature communications10(1), 1067.

Musaev Group

McLarney, B. D., Hanna, S. R., Musaev, D. G., & France, S. (2019). A Predictive Model for the [Rh2 (esp) 2]-catalyzed Intermolecular C (sp3)-H Bond Insertion of β-carbonyl Ester Carbenes: Interplay Between Theory and ExperimentACS Catalysis.

Tian, Y., Plonka, A. M., Ebrahim, A. M., Palomino, R. M., Senanayake, S. D., Balboa, A., … & Mitchell, M. B. (2019). A Correlated Multimodal Approach Reveals Key Details of Nerve-Agent Decomposition by Single Site Zr-Based PolyoxometalatesThe journal of physical chemistry letters.

Wuest Group

Zhao, W., Cross, A. R., Crowe-McAuliffe, C., Weigert-Munoz, A., Csatary, E. E., Solinski, A., … & Wuest, W. (2019). The natural product elegaphenone potentiates antibiotic effects against Pseudomonas aeruginosaAngewandte Chemie.

Cheng, A. V., & Wuest, W. M. (2019). Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Conjugate and Prodrug Strategies as Targeted Delivery Vectors for AntibioticsACS infectious diseases.

Wilt, I. K., Hari, T. P. A., & Wuest, W. M. (2019). Hijacking the Bacterial Circuitry of Biofilm Processes via Chemical” Hot-Wiring”: An Under-explored Avenue for Therapeutic DevelopmentACS infectious diseases.

Congratulations to the 2019 NSF GRFP Awardees and Honorable Mentions!

Congratulations to the 2019 NSF GRFP Awardees and Honorable Mentions!

The Department of Chemistry is so proud of its NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Awardees for 2019! The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program provides recognition and support for outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines. The GRFP selects recipients with great promise to achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional endeavors.

2019 NSF GRFP Awardees:

Anna Kaplan

Anna earned her Bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin college before coming to Emory University in 2018. During her undergraduate studies, she participated in The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program for two different projects. She has since joined the Wuest Lab, where she works on organic synthesis of natural products and analogs thereof to discover new narrow-spectrum antibiotics. She is also involved in various outreach events with PACS and The Association for Women in Science  (AWIS), including the Atlanta Science Festival and the Emory Summer Science Academy.

 

Savannah Post

Savannah joined the Wuest lab in 2018 after earning her undergraduate degree from Berry College. While at Berry, she worked on methods for stereoselective synthesis and the synthesis of Lumacaftor analogues for the treatment of cystic fibrosis. Now, Savannah works on the total synthesis of an antibacterial natural product. Savannah is also actively involved with The Association for Women in Science (AWIS), currently serving as their Treasurer.

 

Daniel Salgueiro

Daniel, who graduated from Emory University in 2018, now attends graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He works in the lab of Dr. Dan Weix, where he uses Cross-Electrophile Coupling (XEC) to form sp3-sp3-sp2 C-C bonds. His NSF proposal was on the use of cooperative diaryl ketone/palladium catalysis to use allylic C-H bonds as pronucleophiles for traditional cross-coupling, based on the research he worked on in Blakey Lab during his time at Emory.

 

Ingrid Wilt

Ingrid is a member of the Wuest lab, currently working on total synthesis of a natural product with anti-fungal activity. Before joining the Wuest lab in 2018, Ingrid attended Colorado College where she conducted research under the guidance of Dr. Habiba Vaghoo. In addition to her research, Ingrid serves as the co-speaker chair for The Association for Women in Science (AWIS).

 

2019 NSF GRFP Honorable Mentions:

Rachel Bender

After graduating from Capital University with a B.A. in chemistry and biochemistry and minors in math and biology, Rachel came to Emory University where she is co-advised by Dr. Jen Heemstra and Dr. Khalid Salaita. Her project involves characterizing the biophysical properties of peptide nucleic acids with a goal of developing them into a tool for analyzing cell mechanics. In addition to her research, Rachel volunteers with Science for Georgia and the Atlanta Science Festival and serves as STEM Activity Leader with the Discovery Program Inc. Rachel has also been the recipient of an Emory Graduate Diversity Fellowship.

Aaron Bosse

Aaron joined the Davies Lab in 2017 after earning his bachelor’s degree from College of the Holy Cross. In the Davies Lab, he works on total synthesis of paracyclophane natural products, method development of new diazo precursors for C-H functionalization, and exotic C-H functionalization substrates useful to pharma. He actively works with the CCHF, having helped run their booth at the Atlanta Science Festival for the past two years. Aaron was named the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry Most Outstanding Senior Undergraduate at Holy Cross and he was the recipient of the Quayle New Student Award here at Emory.

Ana Cheng

Ana came to Emory University from New College of Florida. She joined the Wuest lab in January 2018, where she currently works on synthetic retinoids with anti-MRSA activity. In addition to her interests in total synthesis and medicinal chemistry, Ana is a member of The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) Ana is actively involved with Atlanta Roller Derby as both a skater and board member.

Maddie Dekarske

Maddie earned her Bachelor’s degree from Agnes Scott College before coming to Emory, where she now works in the Wuest Lab. She has two projects in the lab: making analogs of nTZDpa, which kills growing and persisitent S. aureus, and investigating the mechanism of action of honokiol derivatives, which kill S. mutans. Maddie has also received a Goldwater Honorable Mention in 2016 and another NSF GRFP Honorable Mention in 2017, she has been inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa and Mortar Board, and she has been recognized in Who’s Who Among Students at American Universities and Colleges.

Atlanta Science Festival: 2019 Recap

Each year, the Emory University Department of Chemistry participates in the Atlanta Science Festival. This year, we hosted the Chemistry Carnival, an event to share about some of the amazing research taking place in our department through carnival games and fun activities. Children enjoyed playing games like Peptide Jenga and Bacterial Telepathy, while also learning about science from our enthusiastic students.

In addition to the Chemistry Carnival, we had several booths at the Piedmont Park Expo. Dr. Doug Mulford and ChEmory hosted “Pink Ping Pong Big Bang” to teach attendees about The Big Bang through a demonstration involving ping pong balls, liquid nitrogen, and boiling water. Another of our booths, “The BIG World of SMALL Bio-Machines”, was well-attended by children who enjoyed games designed to teach about proteins and their diverse functions. We also hosted “Distance Really Matters” and “Catalyst Carnival” with the CCHF.

The event was a blast for all— attendees and volunteers alike. An event like the Atlanta Science Festival is a wonderful opportunity to bring the community together over a love for science, an enthusiasm for learning, and an ever-present curiosity.

A huge “Thank you!” to everyone who helped make the Atlanta Science festival such a successful and fun event! We couldn’t have done it without you!

Dunham Lab Paper Selected as Editor’s Pick

Ha An Nguyen

The Dunham Lab recent paper in the Journal of Biological Chemistry has been named an Editor’s Pick. The paper, “Importance of a tRNA anticodon loop modification and a conserved, noncanonical anticodon stem pairing in tRNACGGPro for decoding” is also the first paper for graduate research Ha An Nguyen who is featured in an author profile. In the profile, Ha An shares one of the most exciting parts of the research process:

“It was when we saw diffraction spots at high resolution for the first time! I spent a year setting up about one hundred crystallization trials and subsequently screening hundreds of beautiful crystals with not much success. It was very emotionally taxing to be sleep-deprived (most of our synchrotron times were during the night) and have your precious crystals diffract poorly. While I understood spending a year attempting to perform X-ray crystallography is not much time, as a starting graduate student, I couldn’t help but feel that I was a failed crystallographer. That one crystal ended up being all I needed, and the structure, along with the biochemistry, seemed to fall into place. We collected the X-ray data in October 2018 and wrote the paper in 3 months.”

Congratulations to Ha An and the Dunham Lab!

Further Reading

Alumni Spotlight: Suk Cho Thrives “Living Life to the Fullest”

Dr. Suk Cho, Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder of Joy Nutritionals, is no stranger to hard work. Guided by the mindset of “living life to the fullest”, he has seized numerous opportunities to expand his knowledge, gain experience, and truly develop as a scientist. The way he sees it, attitude is everything. “You don’t have to be the best chemist, and you don’t have to be the best manager,” he says. “But do your best.” His accomplishments have fueled his motivation, raising him through the ranks from graduate student to senior scientist to Chief Scientific Officer.

After earning his undergraduate degree from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, Dr. Cho attended Miami University, where he earned his master’s degree in organic chemistry. Having kept an eye on some of the great research going on here at Emory, he officially joined the Emory community in 1985 as a PhD student in the lab of Dr. Lanny Liebeskind.

“Suk Cho was a confident and strong PhD student during his tenure in graduate school at Emory University,” says Lanny. “His research generated high-quality scientific results and led to a number of significant peer-reviewed publications.  I remember him as very personable, with an assured and engaging personality that, in retrospect, portended the future successes in his professional endeavors.”

Originally, Dr. Cho assumed he would use his expertise in chemistry to pursue a career in pharmacy. However, the more he learned about the importance of chemistry in the production of cosmetics, food, and other diverse products, he became more drawn to this side of research and development. “Everything is chemistry,” says Dr. Cho. “I’m very proud of becoming a chemist. I can apply it to just about everything.” As a curious, creative, and committed student, Dr. Cho felt confident that he could succeed in such an industry setting. Having assimilated to a new way of life after immigrating from Korea during his teenage years, Dr. Cho was prepared for a transition from academia to industry

With this can-do attitude and a freshly earned doctorate degree, Dr. Cho went on to work for Unilever, a company that strives to make sustainable living commonplace, supplying over 400 household brands from Dove and Vaseline to Lipton and Ben & Jerry’s. While working at Unilever, Dr. Cho was motivated to learn as much as he could about his industry. Beyond the basic chemistry behind the efficient production of household products, Dr. Cho learned about toxicology and environmental impact, large-scale production and its consequences, consumer demands, and sales and marketing. He also learned that these aspects of the industry truly guide the science behind production.

Dr. Cho went on to spend a brief couple of years as Sr. Scientist with PPG before becoming the Vice President of Research and Development at Melaleuca: The Wellness Company. In this role, he oversaw the production of hundreds of products for nutrition, personal care, skin care, and the household to be used around the globe. Dr. Cho then transitioned to Chief Science Officer at Isagenix, a company built to inspire and empower individuals to “live their best life through a journey of nutrition, health, and overall wellness.” He led the Product Innovation, Research and Science, Quality Assurance, and Regulatory teams at Isagenix, while also serving as Consultant/Owner of Ideate, LLC.

Now, with over 30 years of research and product development, he serves as Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Joy Nutritionals. With a mission to “promote healthy, energetic, active lifestyle choices”, Joy Nutritionals offers lifestyle-based solutions supported by science, community, and technology. The company strives to provide high quality, good-for-you products to promote everyday health and wellness. Dr. Suk Cho is responsible for developing such products, giving everybody a chance at a healthy life.

Echoing the messages of health and wellness that define his industry, Dr. Cho also hopes to encourage people to make decisions that guide them towards a healthier lifestyle. “A lot of our diseases stem from our poor lifestyle choices,” he says. “I want to advocate for investing in yourself mentally, physically, psychologically, and emotionally.” By reminding us to live life to the fullest, while protecting our health and well-being, Dr. Cho shows us a stunning example of how we, too, can find joy.

While his work has broad potential impact, Dr. Cho has already inspired the work of a very important future leader – his daughter, Belle. The business major and chemistry minor is studying at the University of Arizona where she is focused on a future in game development. (Her first game, “Furthest Reach,” has a release date set for 2020.) “There has never been someone to inspire me as much as my father has,” says Belle. “My dad came to the United States from Korea when he was sixteen years old, knowing very little English and [the] school he attended wasn’t really ‘prepared’ for a non-English speaking student at that time. However, it didn’t stop him from going to college and majoring in one of the most challenging science fields. My outlook on education has changed so much in the last two years and I really have my dad to thank for that. I am grateful for the life I have and all the things he has provided for the family.”

 

Rachel Kozlowski (Dyer Group) Awarded Dean’s Teaching Fellowship

Rachel Kozlowski

Rachel Kozlowski (Dyer Group) has been awarded the Dean’s Teaching Fellowship for the 2019-2020 academic year. Dean’s Teaching Fellowships are selected based on progress towards completing the Ph.D. degree as well as a strong commitment to teaching. This year, 12 students were awarded the fellowship, which provides financial support through a $19,000 stipend.

As a Dean’s Teaching Fellow, Rachel will be designing and teaching a section of CHEM-150: Structure and Properties as an instructor of record this coming fall. CHEM 150 is the first  course in the Chemistry Unbound curriculum and focuses on starting students in their chemistry studies with an “atoms first” approach.

“Being awarded this teaching fellowship is an excellent opportunity for me, as my career goal is to be a professor at a primarily undergraduate institution (PUI),” says Rachel. “Professors at PUIs have a much greater emphasis placed on teaching, so while I will still have a small undergraduate research group, most of my job responsibilities will involve teaching students. Having the opportunity to be an instructor of record while still working towards my PhD degree is invaluable.”

Congratulations, Rachel!