Congratulations, Dr. Shannon Rivera!

Shannon Rivera

Shannon Rivera successfully defended her dissertation, “Elucidating the Various Roles of the Globin Domain from Globin Coupled Sensors”, on March 21st, 2019. Shannon’s committee was led by Emily Weinert with Brian Dyer and Stefan Lutz as additional members.

During her time at Emory, Shannon was supported by an Emory Graduate Diversity Fellowship as well as a Carl Storm Underrepresented Minority (CSURM) Fellowship. She was also recognized with the department’s Outstanding T.A. Award for Analytical Chemistry in 2014 and the Quayle Outstanding Student Award in 2018.

Shannon has also been involved in several student organizations including Pi Alpha Chemical Society (PACS) where she served for one year as Vice President of Community Service and the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) where she served consecutive terms first as Co-Social Chair and then as Communications Chair. She has also been a long time member of the Chemistry Graduate School Prep Club sponsored by the NSF Center for Selective C-H Functionalization, serving as President in 2017 and 2018. CGSPC connects Atlanta-area undergraduates from PUIs and HBCUs (including Agnes Scott, Spelman, Morehouse, and Clarke-Atlanta) with mentors who help them to connect with mentors who can help them navigate the graduate school application process . Shannon was instrumental in bringing CGSPC students to Emory for an on-site mentoring event. “They got to talk to faculty, grads, and post-docs about admissions and the struggles of being under represented in the sciences. The effect the event had of them and the fact that it cemented the drive to go to graduate school for those students, that is what made it a huge accomplishment for me,” says Shannon.

Scientifically, Shannon’s work was recently recognized with an invitation to give two oral presentations at SERMACS and GRS/GRC Metals in Biology. SERMACS receives well over 1,000 applications for oral applications and awards only 12-15 spots. “Scientifically though, the most fun and impactful accomplishment was successfully crystallizing my protein, BpeGlobin,” says Shannon. “It was fun because my protein is red, so my crystals are red! They came in different shapes, but you could always see them.  It is also very important for my scientific community because its the first crystal of  the signaling domain of a Globin-coupled sensor with oxygen in the pocket; the gas responsible for activating the protein.”

Shannon plans to pursue a career in industry.

Congratulations, Shannon!

Congratulations, Dr. Morgan Vaughn!

On Wednesday, July 18th, Morgan Vaughn successfully defended her thesis, “Enzyme Dynamics Elucidated via Temperature Jump Fluorescence Spectroscopy”. Morgan’s thesis committee included her thesis advisor, Dr. Brian Dyer, and members Dr. Stefan Lutz and Dr. Vincent Conticello.

During her time at Emory, Morgan was awarded a Dean’s Teaching Fellowship and was selected as an ARCS Scholar. In addition, she served for a year and a half as the president of Emory’s graduate chapter of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) and is the proud author of a JACS Communications paper that was featured in JACS Spotlights.

Looking forward, Morgan plans to pursue a career in facilitating science communication in the classroom, to the general public, and/or among scientists.

Congratulations, Dr. Vaughn!

Congratulations, Dr. Noel Xiang’ An Li!

Photo credit: Dr. Shaoxiong Wu

On Wednesday, April 25th, Noel Xiang’ An Li successfully defended his thesis, “Amyloid-beta strain amplification and their connection to tau in Alzheimer’s Disease”. Noel’s thesis committee included his thesis advisor, Dr. David Lynn, and members Dr. Stefan Lutz, Dr. Vincent Conticello, Dr. Lary Walker (Emory Neurology), and Dr. Yury Chernoff (GA Tech Biological Sciences).

Noel is applying for jobs in the pharmaceutical/biotech industry while wrapping up some experiments in the Lynn Lab.

Congratulations, Dr. Li!

Atlanta Science Festival: Lutz Group Icosahedral Photo Project Captures the Faces of the Atlanta Science Festival

The Atlanta Science Festival brings STEM out of the lab and into the Atlanta community with two weeks of events culminating in the “Exploration Expo” regularly attended by over 18,000 people. ASF was founded in 2014 by a group of Emory staff and faculty, including former chemistry (now ASF!) staff Meisa Salaita and Sarah Peterson and chemistry faculty member David Lynn. Chemistry has sponsored at least one festival event every year. This blog series covers just some of chemistry’s involvement in the 2018 festival.

This year’s Atlanta Science Festival Exploration Expo took place in Piedmont Park on Saturday, March 24th. The Expo booth “The BIG World of Small Containers” celebrated the structure of the icosahedron. Visitors had the opportunity to build structures onto a 3-D printed icosahedron (twenty sides!) using legos and to manipulate a large icosahedral model.

The booth was a collaboration with Atlanta Makers and the Lutz Group in the Department of Chemistry. Visitors also had the chance to take a photo inside of the icosahedron structure. The images were used to create one giant, group photo mimicking the same structure–capturing the faces of the festival.

 

Emory Report: Chemistry synthesizes radical overhaul of undergraduate curriculum

The Emory Report features a story on chemistry’s new undergraduate curriculum, Chemistry Unbound.

For the science dedicated to studying how properties interact and change, chemistry has been static for decades in how it is taught.

That changes this fall, as Emory College of Arts & Sciences positions itself as a leader in teaching undergraduates the “central science” that links biology, physics and more with a revamp of its entire undergraduate chemistry curriculum.

While some colleges have changed individual classes, Emory is the first major research university to completely overhaul how it teaches chemistry, from introductory courses to capstone senior seminars

Read the entire article at the Emory Report.

Fred Menger Teaches Last Emory Class

Tim Stephens hugs Fred Menger after giving him a gift--a new pair of jeans!--as Fred's wife Lib looks on.
Tim Stephens hugs Fred Menger after giving him a gift–a new pair of jeans!–as Fred’s wife Lib looks on.

Faculty, students, and staff gathered this afternoon to recognize Fred Menger‘s last day in the classroom. Dr. Menger held his last in-class session of the popular “How Things Work” freshman seminar. After a demonstration of the inner workings of the defibrillator, the class emerged for a surprise champagne toast. Following remarks by department chair Stefan Lutz and co-teacher Tim Stephens, everyone enjoyed cake in Fred’s honor.

Fred will remain on the Emory faculty, taking a sabbatical next semester but continuing to serve on several committees. Following his retirement in August, Fred intends to maintain an office at Emory and stay active as Emeritus Faculty.

Congratulations, Fred! We will miss you! Thank you to everyone who participated in the celebration!

Stefan Lutz Discusses Everest Trip in The Emory Wheel

Stefan Lutz. Photo by Jessica Lily Photography.
Stefan Lutz. Photo by Jessica Lily Photography.

Stefan Lutz spoke to The Emory Wheel about his summer Everest trip. From the article:

“Mountain climbing requires a certain stubbornness in pursuit of your goals. It requires a commitment, a dedication, time wise, effort wise, and I think that is a quality that comes through in when you do research,” Lutz said. “Research involves a lot of failure. [But] to be able to go back and pick yourself up after a setback, those are qualities that I think mountaineering and research can share.”

[Full Article]

Congratulations, Dr. Yun Zhang!

Yun Zhang. Photo provided by Yun Zhang.
Yun Zhang. Photo provided by Yun Zhang.

Yun Zhang successfully defended her thesis, “Development of DNA-based Molecular Tension Probes to Investigate Integrin Mechanical Forces” on Monday, July 18th, 2016. Yun’s thesis committee was led by Khalid Salaita with Brian Dyer and Stefan Lutz as additional members. Yun will stay on at Emory as a postdoctoral scholar in the Salaita Lab. In the fall, she will begin a position as the manager of an instrument center in the Department of Chemistry at Sichuan University in China.

Congratulations, Yun!

“A Scientist’s View from Earth’s Highest Mountains” on eScienceCommons

Bright sunshine at 3 a.m. during a Denali expedition in Alaska. Photo by Stefan Lutz.
Bright sunshine at 3 a.m. during a Denali expedition in Alaska. Photo by Stefan Lutz.

Stefan Lutz‘s quest to climb the “seven summits” is featured on Emory’s eScienceCommons in the story “A Scientist’s View from Earth’s Highest Mountains.”

Lutz is a biomolecular chemist who uses protein engineering to develop catalysts for therapeutic and industrial applications. He also enjoys teaching, and takes examples from his climbing experiences into the classroom to convey some of the complex concepts in biochemistry. “Using my mountaineering experiences brings these concepts to life and gets students more engaged,” Lutz says. “Most of them have experienced at least a hint of what I talk about, like the feeling you get at higher altitudes when hiking or skiing, so they relate to it.”

[Full Story]