Congratulations, Dr. Luyao Zou!

Luyao Zou
Luyao Zou

Luyao Zou successfully defended his thesis, “Astrochemistry in star-forming regions: laboratory millimeter-submillimeter spectroscopy and broadband astronomical line surveys” on Thursday, March 9th, 2017. Luyao’s thesis committed was led by Susanna Widicus Weaver with Michael C. Heaven and Joel Bowman as additional members. Luyao will be returning to China to take a position as operation coordinator in science communication. Congratulations, Luyao!

Previously:

PhD Candidate Luyao Zou Develops LaTeX Template for Dissertations

Congratulations, Graduate Student Award Winners!

First Person: PDS Training at the World’s Largest Radio Telescope

Chemistry Graduate Students Welcome Carl Lineberger for the First Chemmy Seminar

W. Carl Lineberger

On Wednesday, February 8th, the graduate students of the Department of Chemistry will welcome W. Carl Lineberger, E. U. Condon Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Colorado, Boulder, for the first-ever Chemmy Award Seminar. Dr. Lineberger is a recent winner of the NAS Award in the Chemical Sciences, a member of the National Science Board and the National Research Council Laboratory Assessments Board as well as a fellow of JILA and a member of the editorial board of Chemical Physics Letters. His Wednesday seminar is entitled “Once Upon Anion: A Tale of Photodetachment.”

The “Chemmys” are a seminar program developed and hosted by graduate students in the department. The aim of the seminars is to allow students to recognize scientists who they feel are doing the most exciting work in the field from year to year. In addition, the Chemmys give students an opportunity for professional development, interacting with top scientists from outside Emory to develop a visit schedule and discuss current research.

In its inaugural year, chemistry graduate students will welcome four Chemmy speakers. In addition to Dr. Lineberger, they are Daniel Nocera (Harvard), Ruben Abagyan (UCSD), and Alex Dunn (Stanford). The recipients were chosen through a nomination and voting progress open to all graduate students.

Asked why made time for the Chemmy visit, Dr. Lineberger said: “The answer is a simple truth which is likely shared by 95% (or more) of your seminar visitors. You have to look very hard to find a faculty member who does not respond favorably to flattery, and there is nothing more flattering than having a collection of students contact you asking you to speak! Now you know that you are speaking to an audience that really matters, and they invited you. This is simply too appealing an invitation to be able to decline, unless finding a suitable date is impossible!”

When he isn’t adventuring as the first-ever Chemmy Awardee, Dr. Lineberger sometimes spends time at the South Pole! He is pictured here with France Cordova, then an NSB Colleague and now the Director of the NSF.

Amanda Dermer (Heaven Group) spearheaded the development of the Chemmy program. “The goal of the Chemmys is to encourage more students to participate and have a say in deciding on some of the seminar speakers who speak to the chemistry department,” she says. “I am very appreciative of the department’s support in the new student-hosted speaker program!” Anthony Sementilli (Lynn Group) the current Outreach Coordinator for the Pi Alpha Chemical Society was also key in bringing the new seminars from idea to reality.

Continuing the theme of student involvement, Mallory Theis (Heaven Group), the current president of PACS, designed the glass Chemmy Award that will be presented to Chemmy speakers. “We expect it to become a coveted item in the field of chemistry!” says Outreach and Seminar Coordinator Kira Walsh.

As part of catering to student interests, Dr. Lineberger will focus a portion of his seminar on explaining the fundamentals of his research program in a graduate-level overview. In addition, he looks forward to meeting with students to talk research. “I feel that I am coming to Emory to see students, much more than faculty,” says Dr. Lineberger. “While I have many friends on the faculty, I would be extremely pleased and flattered to spend the time at Emory meeting with students individually or in larger groups and speaking about anything from science, to science policy, or to choosing a career.

Dr. Lineberger’s seminar will take place at 2:00pm in Atwood 360 and will be followed by a reception.

Seminar Schedule for Spring 2017

Outside the Atwood Hall seminar room. Photo by Josh Meister.
Outside the Atwood Hall seminar room. Photo by Josh Meister.

The Department of Chemistry at Emory University frequently welcomes researchers from around the world to share their science with our community. Our Spring 2017 schedule includes a special Johnston Seminar with Frank Neese (Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversionas well as a Hightower-sponsored visit by Robert J. McMahon (University of Wisconsin, Madison) who will serve as the keynote speaker for our annual undergraduate poster session and awards ceremony in April. Additionally, our graduate students will host a special seminar with Carl Lineberger (University of Colorado, Boulder), the first-ever recipient of their “Chemmy Award” for excellence in chemistry.

The most up-to-date seminar schedule is always available on our department calendar on the front page of chemistry.emory.edu. Additionally, seminars are included on the printed calendars posted weekly around the department.

Seminars are open to all members of the Emory community. All seminars take place in Atwood Hall 360, the Department of Chemistry seminar room. Monday seminars take place at 4 p.m. and Wednesday seminars take place at 2 p.m. Occasionally, special seminars may take place at other days/times/locations. These changes will always be announced in advance on our department calendars.

Wednesday, February 1st
Christopher Uyeda, Purdue University

Monday, February 6th
Sean Garrett-Roe, University of Pittsburgh

Wednesday, February 8th
Carl Lineberger, University of Colorado, Boulder

Monday, February 13
David Flannigan, University of Minnesota

Wednesday, February 15th
Laszlo Kurti, Rice University

Monday, February 20th
Gordana Dukovic, University of Colorado, Boulder

Monday, February 27th
Joel Collier, Duke University

Wednesday, March 1st
Valentine Ananikov, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow

Monday, March 20th
Amit Reddi, Georgia Institute of Technology

Wednesday, March 22nd
Alex Radosevich, Pennsylvania State University

Monday, March 27th
Anatoly Frenkel, Brookhaven National Lab

Wednesday, March 29th
Noah Burns, Stanford University

Monday, April 10th
Johnston Lecture with Frank Neese, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion

April 17-21st, 2017
Undergraduate Research Week with Robert J. McMahon, University of Wisconsin

Monday, April 24th
Joshua Pierce, North Carolina State University

Tuesday, April 25th (2pm, Atwood 360)
Klaus Pörschke, Max Planck Institute for Coal Research

Wednesday, April 26th
Anne J. McNeil, University of Michigan

Research Spotlight: Analytical Chemistry Out of the Lab and Into the WaterHub

Students in their laboratory safety gear outside the WaterHub.
Students in their laboratory safety gear outside the WaterHub.

By: Laura Briggs (EC ’19)

Sometimes, being in an academic lab setting can feel a bit pointless. Instructors and TAs are there to help you every step of the way, procedures are laid out for you step-by-step, and everyone pretty much knows what the “right” result should be. I understand that this method helps you learn techniques and reinforce concepts, but it definitely isn’t what I’ve experienced in a real research setting.

Dr. Jeremy Weaver’s analytical chemistry lab has been a fun and fulfilling change of scenery from step-by-step lab work. Our class visited the WaterHub with sample collection bottles and got a hands-on look at the real science that goes on there (I talk more about the WaterHub experience here). Then, we took the samples back into the lab to do some real research.

Dr. Weaver famously says that analytical chemistry is the class where data accuracy and precision matter the most. But for the WaterHub project, he took a more open-ended approach. He didn’t give us a procedure to follow; instead, we spent a week scouring the Internet and the scientific literature to figure out what to do. And when we asked if a certain procedure would work, Dr. Weaver encouraged us to go for it, give it a shot, and see what happened.

Using the techniques we learned in lab, including gas chromatography, titrations, and spectrophotometry, we determined (somewhat successfully) the phosphate and aluminum concentrations of the water, along with “water hardness” – a fancy term for the concentrations of calcium, magnesium, and a few other ions in a water sample. These are values that water quality testers would measure during a routine check of water quality.

Of course, without a surefire procedure to follow, it took a couple of tries to work out the kinks. My portion of the project was to determine the phosphate concentration of the WaterHub samples using UV/Vis spectrometry. The concept behind this technique is simple – you add an agent to your sample that creates a color change, and the degree to which the color appears corresponds to the concentration of the sample. The first time I added my coloring agent to each sample, absolutely nothing happened – even when I knew that there was a ton of phosphate in the sample!

The process of research, as we learned, is full of troubleshooting and setbacks. But eventually, I found the amount of phosphate in the WaterHub water! Boy, did I feel accomplished because I found the procedure and performed the experiments myself. Even in an academic lab setting, it is possible to conduct real research, answer real questions, and engage with the Emory community on a larger level. Dr. Weaver’s WaterHub project brought the esoteric techniques of quantitative analytical chemistry and gave them new life through a real-life application.

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Laura BriggsLaura Briggs is a sophomore majoring in chemistry and dance. Laura is a Woodruff Scholar and the Vice President of the Emory Swing Dance Club. She is also a member of the Emory Dance Company and hosts a weekly, science-themed radio show. Laura is a research assistant in the Weinert lab, where she studies really cool bacteria that attack potatoes. Laura plans to pursue either a Ph.D. in biochemistry or a master’s in science writing.

To learn more about the WaterHub, check out this link from Campus Services!

http://www.campserv.emory.edu/fm/energy_utilities/water-hub/

First Person: Discovering the WaterHub at Emory

Analytical chemistry students listen to a tour guide at the WaterHub at Emory.
Analytical chemistry students listen to a tour guide in the front hall of the WaterHub at Emory.

By: Laura Briggs (EC ’19)

I didn’t know that the WaterHub existed until this semester, which is a shame because it’s right in my backyard. From my dorm room at 15 Eagle Row, I can see the greenhouse and the mysterious metal trapdoors embedded in the grassy area near Peavine Creek Drive. But it wasn’t until my analytical chemistry lab trekked across campus, collection bottles and safety goggles in hand, that I learned how awesome the WaterHub really is.

One of the first things you see when you enter the WaterHub is a banana tree, happily flourishing among the greenery in the heat and humidity. Besides providing me with a bit of joy, the tree is working full-time for a greater cause. Its roots are the centerpiece of a hydroponic reactor beneath the greenhouse that harnesses the natural design of plants to provide efficient and stable water treatment.

As our tour guide explained to the class, the WaterHub recycles up to 400,000 gallons of water every day, meeting almost 40% of Emory’s total water needs. Don’t worry, though- our guide reassured us that repurposed sewage is not coming out of the water fountains. Instead, the recycled water heats and cools buildings and helps flush toilets in some of Emory’s dorms.

How does this Cinderella transformation occur? The treatment process begins with a series of moving bed bioreactors to settle out and digest the – um – solid components of sewage. These large tanks contain a floating plastic netting system where bacteria can settle and grow into compact communities called biofilms.

Different kinds of bacteria proliferate in different bioreactors, and the WaterHub puts each of them to work cleaning various components of the wastewater. Oxygen levels control the types of bacteria that flourish. One bioreactor is completely anaerobic, encouraging the growth of bacteria that can “denitrify” the water, reducing dangerous nitrates into harmless nitrogen gas. Other bioreactors have different oxygen conditions, and the microbes that grow there perform other functions.

The next step in the process also relies on nature; a vast network of plant roots dips down into a series of hydroponic reactors, providing maximum surface area for more junk-eating microbes to inhabit. Alongside the plants, there’s also an artificial system of textile webbing to provide additional filtration.

At this point in the treatment system, the water is pretty clear, and almost all contaminants have been removed. Still, the process isn’t over. Water passes through a clarifier and a filter, removing any remaining solids, nutrients, and color from the water. Finally, any straggling biological contaminants are zapped away with a combination of chlorine and ultraviolet (UV) light. Our class sampled this fully-repurposed water to test for various contents (Here is my blog post exploring this process in-depth!)

The WaterHub – once a mystery to me – is a brilliant marriage of sustainability, engineering, chemistry, and biology right on Peavine Creek Drive! Thanks to Dr. Weaver’s analytical chemistry lab course, I can now look out my dorm room window and appreciate the source of the water that heats the building on these cold winter nights – and the beautifully-evolved natural processes that keep it clean.

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Laura BriggsLaura Briggs is a sophomore majoring in chemistry and dance. Laura is a Woodruff Scholar and the Vice President of the Emory Swing Dance Club. She is also a member of the Emory Dance Company and hosts a weekly, science-themed radio show. Laura is a research assistant in the Weinert lab, where she studies really cool bacteria that attack potatoes. Laura plans to pursue either a Ph.D. in biochemistry or a master’s in science writing.

To learn more about the WaterHub, check out this link from Campus Services!

http://www.campserv.emory.edu/fm/energy_utilities/water-hub/

Student Spotlight: Chem Mentor Sunidhi Ramesh

Sunidhi Ramesh
Sunidhi Ramesh

Early mentoring experiences solidified Sunidhi Ramesh’s desire to pursue a career in medicine.

“I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was four,” she explains. That was the age when she started accompanying her favorite uncle on visits to his medical practice in a small, rural village in India. Her uncle’s clinic “was so different from any clinic or hospital that you would see here. It was quiet, and he was often the only person working there.” In that small space, she saw her uncle having a big impact.

“He used to give out free medicine. If he had patients who were homeless, he wouldn’t charge them. It was a very humbling process. He would be tired at the end of the day, but he’d be happy. I noticed that really quickly.”

Sunidhi’s interest in medicine eventually led her to the strong STEM programs at Emory. As a first year student, she struggled with time management—understandable considering she was involved in an array of activities, from writing for The Wheel to performing on a Bollywood dance team. Attending Chem Mentor tutoring sessions helped her to slow down and learn to budget her time.

“Chem Mentors kind of forced me to sit down and say, ‘Okay, these two hours are just for chemistry problems.’ I could figure out what I was comfortable with and what I wasn’t comfortable with and study from there. It gave me a baseline,” says Sunidhi.

Now, Sunidhi—a double major in Neuroscience and Sociology—is a Chem Mentor, helping other students to enhance their experience in Chem 141 and 142.

Sunidhi works on chemistry concepts with students (l-r) Mary, Farris, and Yasmin.
Sunidhi works on chemistry concepts with students (l-r) Mary, Farris, and Yasmin.

Chem Mentors are upper level students who provide weekly tutoring sessions to students enrolled in “Gen Chem.” Students who apply to be mentors must have completed Gen Chem classes at Emory with a grade of A- or better and are required to submit a reference from an Emory professor. Selected students undergo training and are also required to attend Gen Chem class sessions—helping to refresh their content knowledge and allowing them to serve as an in-class resource to students taking the class for the first time.

The tutoring sessions are the heart of the program, giving Chem Mentors responsibility for their peers’ learning. Mentors must develop their own approach to the material and lead sessions independently. Sunidhi says that one of the challenges is finding ways to help students who have different levels of comfort with the material under review. She’s learned not to make assumptions about what students already know; when students do show mastery, she will often keep them engaged by asking them to teach the material to others who are struggling. Her own experience with Chem Mentors has showed her that teaching material can help to solidify complex concepts even for students who have a firm grasp on course content.

“You benefit from teaching someone and learning how to explain the problem and someone else benefits from hearing it from another person,” she says.

The challenges from the program have given her a new respect for the professors who deal with these kinds of issues every day. “I’m a lot more sympathetic with professors now!”

At the same time, Sunidhi and her fellow Chem Mentors are able to use their role to help other students feel more comfortable with their professors. “Sometimes students aren’t as comfortable going to [the faculty] with questions. During our sessions, they come to us and we try to refer them to their professors to make them more comfortable with going to office hours; first years, especially, are very anxious. They think they can’t go to office hours unless they have a good question to ask.”

Director of Undergraduate Studies Dr. Doug Mulford praises Sunidhi’s commitment. “Sunidhi has been a model mentor helping countless students understand the material in Chemistry 141 and 142.  She relates to them as one who has been there herself.” Dr. Tracy McGill adds: “The Chem Mentors themselves are what make the program so outstanding.  Having a peer who has succeeded in the course earlier and can model tenacity, patience, and a methodical approach to breaking down a complex problem is invaluable to our students’ success.”

Sunidhi’s commitment to mentoring extends beyond chemistry. She mentors high school students through Emory Pipeline, a program that seeks to build awareness of STEM careers for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and she has also served as an Orientation Leader twice. “I think it’s a rewarding experience to be a mentor in general,” she says. “You get to see things from a different perspective.”

With Chem Mentors, Sunidhi is often pleasantly surprised by what she has retained from Gen Chem. “Sometimes I’m surprised that I still remember how to do the problem! I think those kinds of surprises combined with the reward of having to teach a class and seeing students have that ‘a-ha’ moment where they realize how a concept works—those are the rewards that line up and make it a good program.”

Maybe some of Sunidhi’s drive to mentor others comes from her own experience finding her way. “We kind of had to Guinea pig our way through everything,” she says, describing the way that she and her family have approached her goal of being a doctor. Both of her parents are immigrants from India and she is the oldest child, trying to forge a path through a very different educational system.  As she’s progressed—and continued to teach others—that path has become more and more clear.

“I don’t know anything else I can do,” she says. “Medicine is what I love.”

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Interested in being a ChemMentor? Applications for the 2016-2017 school year will be accepted this coming Spring. Students who have earned an A or A- in their chemistry courses are eligible to apply. Selected mentors are required to enroll in Chem 392R, the Chem Mentor training course. Dr. Tracy McGill says: “Chem Mentors is an exciting opportunity for undergraduate students to develop their leadership skills, work with their peers, deepen their understanding of chemistry concepts, and build relationships with faculty mentors.” Contact Dr. McGill or Dr. Mulford with questions.

 

 

Research Spotlight: A Summer Start at Emory

By: Michelle Leidy (Scarborough Group)

Last summer, I began my graduate career at Emory University doing research for Dr. Nate Jui in the Department of Chemistry. In his lab I was exploring how ureas and carbamates can be taken advantage of for use as catalysts in the ortho-functionalization of aniline and phenol, respectively.

A visualization of reactions-- ureas (top) and carbamates (bottom)
A visualization of reactions– ureas (top) and carbamates (bottom).

I tested these reactions under several sets of conditions. By the end of the summer, I learned that neither of the reactions worked. I even tried making the palladium-carbamate complex to see if the first steps in the catalytic process were going as they should. It turns out, that wasn’t working either.

Visualization of the palladium-carbamate complex--this didn't work either!
Visualization of the palladium-carbamate complex. Also did not work!

This was frustrating for me, as my two undergraduate projects had been successful, with virtually no setbacks. But I learned that when nothing works, you sometimes have to go one step back to (eventually) go two steps forward. As someone who grew up afraid of failure, I am only now realizing that it is the thing that drives new ideas and creativity, as long as we can learn and grow from it.

Overall this rotation was a good learning experience. I was able to transition into graduate life, become familiar with the facilities, and make some new friends without the stress of classes. 

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Michelle LeidyMichelle Leidy began her studies at Emory in the summer of 2015 and is an Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD) fellow. Currently, she is a member of the Scarborough Group working on synthesizing catalysts that can activate hydrogen peroxide by using second sphere hydrogen bonding, which would be useful in challenging industrial oxidation processes. Outside the lab, Michelle enjoys music and the arts, and can often be found going to concerts, plays, or swing dancing the night away if not relaxing at home. After graduation, Michelle hopes to continue her career doing research in a lab. 

A version of this post originally appeared on the IMSD blog in February 2016. 

 

Student Spotlight: Ryan Fan Reflects on his “Summer in Siena”

From L to R, Alexis Kosiak, Ryan Fan, and Alex Nazzari visting the lab of Gianluca Giorgi, a collaborator of Emory chemist Vince Conticello, at the University of Siena.
From L to R, Alexis Kosiak, Ryan Fan, and Alex Nazzari visting the lab of Gianluca Giorgi, a collaborator of Emory chemist Vince Conticello, at the University of Siena.

“Sprawling in Siena”

By: Ryan Fan (Emory College)

Without a data plan or service to access a map, and with street signs posted on obscure buildings rather than poles, roaming around Rome turned a “15 minute walk” to our hotel into an hour of circling the same street over and over again. “Well, this is going to be difficult,” I thought as I entered my hotel room, passing out from jet lag. I sincerely hoped I wouldn’t continue to feel as lost and disoriented as I did on that first day.

Thankfully, most of the study abroad experience in Italy went better than my first hour in Rome. “Getting lost” turned into culturally-motivated wandering—from the Coliseum to the Vatican Museum to the 551 steps of St. Peter’s Basilica. My personal favorite experience was climbing the Basilica to see the view of Rome’s skyline. But it wasn’t solely a race to the top – climbing the dome was special for what you see on the way. At about 200 steps, you get a birds-eye view into the Basilica. Pilgrims travel thousands of miles to see the work of artists like Michelangelo and the crypts of Paul and Peter. The whole climb, from start to finish, was a privilege.

Studying chemistry in Italy gave me a behind-the-scenes view of some of what goes into restoring and protecting the kind of art that I admired in the Basilica . One thing we studied in particular was the use of lasers to restore art and architecture. I have always thought of art as purely a humanities discipline. However, we learned that while artists are the ones to make beauty, scientists are needed to help preserve it. Every time a piece of art needs to be restored, it requires an entire team of art and science experts. Part of their goal is to make the smallest amount of alterations possible while restoring a piece. As a chemistry and creative writing double major, this changed my perception that my two fields of study are mutually exclusive. Rather, they can co-exist together to form the best possible product. This also happens in developing makeup, making art supplies, and authenticating pieces of art.

We arrived in Siena, a city in Tuscany on May 27, 2016. One of my favorite things about Siena was the massive hills. As a cross country runner, I found no shortage of places to run because of the hills, which increase the difficulty of my training. The central square, El Piazza Del Campo, is the heart of the city with tourists and native residents alike picnicking at every hour of the day. El Piazza houses a biannual historical race known as the Palio di Siena. This is a horse race with 10 jockeys, each representing a contrada, or district, of the city. A victory brings tremendous pride and celebration to a contrada. After six weeks of living in Siena, we ended our program by attending this raucous event alongside nearly 50,000 other spectators. Of course, as an Emory student-athlete, I support the Eagle contrada.

The only complaint I have about the Summer in Siena program is that it goes by too fast. It feels like just a second ago that I was feeling lost and nervous in Rome. I initially went on this trip just to study chemistry, but I’ve learned so much more about art, culture, and collaboration between the arts and sciences on the way. When I get home, I plan to try to convince my mom that we should take a trip to Italy as a family–that’s the only way I can truly show them how great this experience was.

Interested in applying to for the “Summer in Siena” program? Details are available on the Center for International Programs Abroad (CIPA) website.

Research Spotlight: A Unique Method for Studying Enzymes

Morgan in the lab. Photo provided by Morgan Bair Vaughn.
Morgan in the lab. Photo provided by Morgan Bair Vaughn.

By: Morgan Bair Vaughn (Dyer Group)

Enzymes are responsible for catalyzing a myriad of reactions necessary for life. Because enzymes play such an important role in human physiology, they are often targets for drugs and disease treatments. Naturally occurring enzymes are capable of catalyzing a wide variety of reactions, but imagine if we could design an enzyme to catalyze any reaction we wanted. We would be able to create new antibiotics easily to combat antibiotic resistance or to quickly synthesize chemicals for industrial applications. Scientists have made a lot of progress towards creating new enzymes, yet there are still roadblocks. Modifying existing enzymes through directed evolution is inefficient and limited by the need for high throughput screening methods. Conversely, in the case of rational design, we are missing key information for the technique to work at its full potential.

My research works to fill in the gaps in our knowledge to allow for the efficient development of new enzymes. A large portion of the scientific community focuses on determining the structure of enzymes and how the structure impacts function. While this work is enormously important, it doesn’t tell the full story. One major aspect that is often overlooked when examining structure-function relationships is that enzymes are dynamic molecules. This means that they physically move, bend, wiggle, and change shape during catalysis.

To study enzyme dynamics, I use temperature jump spectroscopy. There are only a few labs around the world that use this technique, and even fewer that use it to study enzymes. Temperature jump spectroscopy relies on rapidly initiating a change in equilibrium. For example, my samples contain enzymes and ligands. As determined by the equilibrium constant, some of the ligand is bound and some ligand is free in solution. The sample starts at equilibrium at a specified temperature. Then, a laser pulse is used to rapidly heat a small portion of the sample. The system must relax to a new equilibrium at the higher temperature. Since ligand binding is an exothermic reaction, there will be a net flux of ligands dissociating from the enzyme. However, as a system relaxes to a new equilibrium it will shift in the forward and reverse directions providing information about both processes. From this data I can determine the rate at which ligands are binding and unbinding, accompanying enzyme motions, and even conformational changes unrelated to ligand association. These changes occur on the microsecond timescale.

Although temperature jump spectroscopy could be applied to any number of enzymes, so far I’ve studied one enzyme in particular, dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR). It is a small ubiquitous enzyme that is well known for changing conformations during its catalytic cycle. Thus, it is a good starting place for understanding enzyme dynamics. Furthermore, DHFR is an important enzyme for nucleic acid synthesis. Since nucleic acid synthesis is necessary for cellular replication, DHFR inhibition is a strategy for anticancer and antibacterial agents.

Understanding the motions of DHFR could lead to the development of new inhibitors to combat resistance developed in certain cancers. The technique I use can be applied to other enzyme systems as well. By studying multiple enzymes we can build an understanding of enzyme motions in general, which can then be used to inform computational simulations for rational enzyme design. This would ultimately allow us to efficiently design new enzymes as well as new drugs.

Further Reading

Reddish, M. J.; Vaughn, M. B.; Fu, R.; Dyer, R. B. Ligand-Dependent Conformational Dynamics of Dihydrofolate Reductase. Biochemistry 2016, 55 (10), 1485-1493.

 

Fire Extinguisher Safety Training in June and July

A student puts out a controlled fire during safety training. Photo by the Emory University Department of Chemistry.
A student puts out a controlled fire during safety training. Photo by the Emory University Department of Chemistry.

The Department of Chemistry is hosting fire extinguisher safety training in June and July. The first two sessions took place on Thursday, June 23rd and Friday, June 24th. During training, each participant will have the opportunity to put out a small fire in a controlled situation.

“Fire extinguisher training is valuable not only for laboratory safety, but may also save lives and diminish the extent of fire damage if you encounter a small fire at home (kitchen, electrical appliance, automobile) or elsewhere outside of the work environment,” says safety coordinator Frank McDonald

Training takes place on the service road next to the Peavine Visitor Parking surface lot. The focus is on teaching participants the PASS sequence–Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep–so that they will be prepared to respond quickly in an emergency.

There are four trainings still to come:

  • Friday June 24, 1:00 pm
  • Thursday June 30, 10:00 am
  • Friday July 1, 1:00 pm
  • Thursday July 7, 10:00 am

To sign up, please visit http://doodle.com/poll/sc82ude2zyhshigp. OSHA recommends annual fire safety training for everyone working in chemistry. For more information about safety in the Emory University Department of Chemistry, please visit the Department of Chemistry Safety website.