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]!

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!

Jen Heemstra and Bill Wuest Named Scialog Fellows

Bill Wuest. Photo by Jessica Lily Photography for Work+Play.
Jen Heemstra. Photo by Jessica Lily Photography for Work+Play.

Associate Professors Dr. Jen Heemstra and Dr. Bill Wuest have both been named Scialog Fellows for the Chemical Machinery of the Cell. Scialog, supported by the Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation,  aims to advance human knowledge by supporting and empowering early career scientists. Fellows work in community with other scientists in their theme area to learn and discover through the give-and-take of community building among multidisciplinary teams.

The Scialog on the Chemical Machinery of the Cell is based on the conviction that the time is right to bring together chemists and biologists to spark collaborations and develop interdisciplinary

Bill Wuest. Photo by Jessica Lily Photography for Work+Play.
Bill Wuest. Photo by Jessica Lily Photography for Work+Play.

projects that will catapult us to a deeper understanding of chemical machinery and reactions in the intact cell. The group will explore questions such as “How does the cell organize reactions in functionally distinct compartments that are not bound by membranes?” and “What combination of new chemical tools including chemical probes, optical techniques, and quantum methods can bring about molecular resolution of the chemical machinery in intact, living cells?”

Jen and Bill will have the opportunity to engage with other Chemical Machinery of the Cell fellows at the upcoming Scialog conference in Tucson, Arizona.

Congratulations, Jen and Bill!

 

Christine Dunham Receives ASBMB Young Investigator Award

Dr. Christine Dunham, associate professor of Biochemistry at the Emory University School of Medicine and Associated Faculty in Chemistry, has been awarded the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Young Investigator Award. The award includes a $5,000 cash prize and recognizes outstanding research contributions to biochemistry and molecular biology by a scientist who has no more than 15 years postdoctoral experience. In addition to her research and teaching, Christine is an editorial board member of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, which the ASBMB publishes and has served on the ASBMB’s meeting program planning committee

Congratulations, Christine!

Dr. Tianquan (Tim) Lian Awarded $7.5 Million for Fuel Cell Research

Dr. Tianquan (Tim) Lian was recently awarded $7.5 million from the U.S. Department of Defense for research on the electrochemical basis of fuel cell technology. Research in the Lian lab centers around the advancement of solar energy conversion particularly through the preparation, characterization, and fundamental understanding of photovoltaic and photocatalytic nanomaterials. The tools and techniques being developed in the Lian lab will contribute to the advancement of fuel cell technology, supporting the widespread efforts for innovation and discovery.

““A deeper understanding of electrochemical processes is important in the quest for more efficient, renewable forms of energy,’ Lian says. “We hope to make a lasting impact in the field, opening doors to do things with electrochemistry that are currently out of reach.’”

[Read Full Article]

Achievement, Part 2: Don’t just work harder, work better

By: Dr. Jen Heemstra

Reposted with permission from Things that change the way I think. Originally published on March 18th, 2018.


I’ve had a great year for running – since last spring, I’ve set a personal record in every race I’ve entered.  Much of that success has come from hard work and strategic training.  But, as I alluded to in my last blog post, while hard work and training are very important, they aren’t everything.  Over the same time period, I’ve also gone swimming often, and despite working hard and finishing every session exhausted, I still garner a look from lifeguards that suggests they’re thinking “Is that woman swimming, or is she drowning? Does she need help?” I’m slow and awkward, making surprisingly little forward progress for all of the effort I seem to be expending. And then there are my kick flips, from which I emerge gasping for breath, often with water up my nose, and sometimes not even in the same lane where I started.

What is the difference between my progress in running and the continued frustration of my swimming?  Form.  It’s not just about working harder, but working better, and the best athletes know that if your technique is not dialed in, much of the effort of training is wasted.  Over the past year, I’ve focused intensely on my running form, constantly adjusting to achieve greater efficiency.  However, I’ve neglected doing this with swimming, and it shows.

So, how does this translate to science?  As researchers, our days are filled with tasks.  If you work in a lab, this could be running reactions, analyzing compounds, passaging cells, etc, mixed in with reading the literature, fixing instruments, and preparing presentations.  As a faculty member, days are no less task oriented – there’s teaching class, going to meetings, editing manuscripts and proposals from your lab, reviewing manuscripts and proposals from other labs, answering emails… It can feel great to schedule out all of the tasks that need to be accomplished in a day, then systematically tick each of them off the to-do list before going home.  However, this can give a false sense of security that you’re doing your job well. In reality, you can complete every task on your list, but not have actually done your job.

Just as with sports, it’s not only about what you do, but how you do it. Form matters.  While the tasks that make up your daily plan will probably change dramatically as you progress in your career, the form required to do your job well can remain surprisingly similar. Among the key elements of this are:

Be strategic – What are the most important things to get done today? Am I doing those as efficiently as possible? Are there things I’m not doing that I should be doing? Are there things I’m doing that I should not be doing?

Be skeptical – What could go wrong with this experiment or project?  Is there a way to avoid that? Is there something making the data look like things are working, even though they’re really not?

Be creative – If this doesn’t work, what else can I try? Is there a better way to do this? Where are the knowledge or technology gaps in my field and can I think of ways to fill them?

Be courageous – Is there something I’m not doing because I’m afraid it might fail? What is the riskiest part of this project, and how can I run at that first? Am I making decisions based on what other people might think of me if I don’t succeed?

Be collegial – Do I care about the people around me? Am I using my expertise to help others with their projects? Am I invested in the success of my lab, my department, my university or company?

As with sports, it’s about the combination of getting out the door and moving, while keeping an eye on form throughout the effort.  As you work through the tasks of your day, be aware of your form and make adjustments when needed.  Ask yourself: Which elements of form am I already executing well, and where do I need to improve? The encouraging news is that the more you practice good form, the more it comes naturally. 

Click here for the original article.

Click here for Achievement, Part 1: What are you training for?