Emory News: New Emory Initiatives Drive Innovation in the Basic Sciences

The Emory News Center recently published an article outlining a series of initiatives through which Emory University hopes to foster scholarly and research eminence. As part of its mission, titled “One Emory: Engaged for Impact”, Emory aims to inspire “Innovation through Scholarship and Creative Expression”. To achieve this goal, a Task Force on the Future of Basic Science Research was organized to identify how to maximize the success and impact of our research efforts.

This task force was co-chaired by Guida Silvestri and the Department of Chemistry’s own Dr. Huw Davies. Two priority research initiatives were decided upon as a result of this effort: “Biological Discovery through Chemical Innovation” and “From Molecular Pathogenesis to Global Pandemics”. Dr. Davies, along with Dr. Haian Fu, leads the “Biological Discovery through Chemical Innovation” initiative with the aim of accelerating the development of the next generation of research tools, effective and safe drugs, and diagnostic agents.

“The idea is to enhance molecular science at Emory broadly,” says Davies. “The focus is not just on the potential for developing drugs, but on achieving more impactful basic science by deepening knowledge of biology and novel chemistry.”

To read the entire article, click [here].

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.

Jen Heemstra Debuts “Office Hours” and “Real Talk” Podcast at C&EN

Jen Heemstra

Dr. Jen Heemstra has teamed up with C&EN for the new advice column, “Office Hours.” The monthly column will “engage the STEM community in dialogue on important issues–including prioritizing mental health, finding motivations, and coping with setbacks and failures.” A key feature will be questions or topic ideas from readers that will kick off each column, helping “Office Hours” become a catalyst for broader conversation.

Readers can submit their questions on the C&EN website.

Jen’s is also featured in the latest episode of the C&EN podcast, Stereo Chemistry. The podcast team spent several days in the lab getting to know Jen and her students and “learning how and why she’s helping create the next generation of chemistry’s thought leaders.” You can listen here.

You can also follow Jen’s thoughts on science and mentoring on her popular @jenheemstra Twitter account and on her blog, Things that change the way I think.

Congratulations, Jen!

Research from the Dunham Lab Wins Cozzarelli Prize

Congratulations to Dr. Christine Dunham and colleagues on their recent publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This manuscript has won the journal’s Cozzarelli Prize, which recognizes one outstanding contribution each year to each of the six disciplines of the National Academy of Sciences and celebrates “scientific excellence and originality”.

The manuscript entitled “Mechanism of tRNA-mediated +1 ribosomal frameshifting” discusses ribosomal frameshifting, a perturbation of the protein assembly process. With an enhanced understanding of this process, we can begin to understand more about how proteins are synthesized as well as how some antibiotics can hijack this process and re-engineer it for new applications.

To read more about this, click [here]!

Dr. Simon Blakey Elected to the ISHC Advisory Committee

Congratulations to Dr. Simon Blakey for being elected to the Advisory Committee of the International Society of Heterocyclic Chemistry (ISHC)! The ISHC was established in 1968 to promote heterocyclic chemistry by sponsoring the ISHC-Congress, to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the field, and to aid in the publication of “Progress in Heterocyclic Chemistry” (PHC). With this appointment, Dr. Blakey will serve as one of two North American representatives on the committee of nine members.

Research in the Blakey lab centers around probing fundamental questions of chemical reactivity, catalysis, and synthetic strategy with an emphasis on selective C-H functionalization. If you are interested in learning more about the Blakey lab, check out their new website [here]!

Looking Back on 2018

Happy New Year! As we enter 2019, a new year of innovation and achievement, let’s take some time to appreciate some of the wonderful things that took place in the Department of Chemistry during 2018.

Francesco Evangelista Receives Grant for Quantum Information Science Research

The U.S Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced $218M in funding for research in the emerging field of Quantum Information Science.

Francesco Evangelista, recipient of the 2017 Dirac Medal and the 2018 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, is the lead PI for $3.9M of this funding for his research on “Quantum Chemistry for Quantum Computers.” The award is the first that Emory has received to study quantum computing.

The Quantum Information Science program seeks to lay the foundation for future innovation in the realm of computing and information processing. The awards, made in conjunction with the White House Summit on Advancing American Leadership in Quantum Information Science, are led by scientists at 28 higher learning institutes and 9 DOE national laboratories. Research funded by the awards will span a range of topics from the new generation of quantum computers to using quantum computing for understanding cosmic phenomena.

The abstract for Dr. Evangelista’s “Quantum Chemistry for Quantum Computers” appears below:

“Over the past fifty years, quantum chemistry has had a transformative impact on chemistry and materials science by enabling the computational prediction of properties and reactivity of molecules and materials. Two factors have made this success possible: the development of efficient theories of electronic structure and the steady growth of computing power. Nevertheless, quantum chemistry methods are currently unable to tackle strongly correlated molecules and materials, owing to the exponential complexity of the fundamental physics of these systems. Quantum computers manipulate information using quantum mechanical principles and offer a solution to this problem. With the rapid development of quantum computing hardware and algorithms, there is a realistic expectation that quantum computers will outperform their classical counterparts within the next decade. However, the first generation of quantum computers is unlikely to have a transformative impact on chemistry and materials science unless their power is leveraged by combining them with new algorithms specifically designed to take advantage of quantum hardware. The objective of this research is to create the next generation of quantum chemistry methods for strongly correlated molecules and solids that will run on the first generation of quantum computers. This research will also develop standard benchmarks for testing the accuracy and computing power of new quantum hardware and will validate prototypes of quantum computers in collaborations with industry partners. More generally, this project paves the way to applications of quantum computers to study challenging strongly correlated systems critical to the mission of the DOE such as transition metal catalysts, high-temperature superconductors, and novel materials that are beyond the realm of classical simulation.”

Congratulations, Dr. Evangelista!

Check out the video to learn more about the amazing research happening in the Evangelista lab!

Dennis Liotta Receives Honorary Doctorate from the University of Ottawa

Congratulations to Dr. Dennis Liotta for receiving an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Ottawa. Honorary doctorate degrees acknowledge the value of the abilities and experiences of the recipient and are awarded for significant contributions made by the recipient to the University of Ottawa, their profession, or society. Upon receiving the honorary degree, Dr. Dennis Liotta delivered a speech to the graduating class of the University.

“We can’t afford to sit and wait for others to change the world — we have to do it ourselves. The good news is that we all have the capacity to make the world a better place. All that is required is that we be proactive and persistent on an issue or cause that we’re passionate about. So, this is my challenge to all of you here today. Examine your own lives, identify a problem compatible with your skills and pursue it. If it’s something you’re passionate about and you’re willing to persevere, I guarantee you that you’ll find a way of doing it well. Remember, however, that this is marathon, not a sprint. So, don’t ever lose sight of your goals and your dreams.”

Click [here] to read the whole speech.

Congratulations, Dr. Liotta!

Huw Davies Receives the Herbert C. Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods

Congratulations to Dr. Huw Davies for being named the recipient of the Herbert C. Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods given by the American Chemical Society for 2019. This award recognizes  outstanding and creative research involved in the discovery and development of novel and useful methods for chemical synthesis.

National award winners were honored at a ceremony in conjunction with the 257th ACS National Meeting on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019 in Orlando, Florida.

Congratulations, Dr. Davies!

Tianquan (Tim) Lian Named New Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Chemical Physics

Dr. Tianquan (Tim) Lian pictured with current JCP Editor-in-Chief, Marsha Lester. Photo: @AIP_Publishing

Beginning in January 2019, Tianquan (Tim) Lian will take over the role of Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Chemical Physics, a flagship journal of the American Institute of Physics (AIP). The highly cited, peer-reviewed archival journals of AIP help to lay the foundation for the field of physics. Currently, Dr. Lian serves as Co-Editor-in-Chief of Chemical Physics and is a member of the Advisory Editorial Boards for Chemical Physics Letters and Spectrochimica Acta A.

Congratulations, Dr. Lian!