Snapshots

Kaus Investigates Protein Structure by Using X-Ray Crystallography

Katie Kaus, a PhD candidate in molecular biology and biochemistry, spoke on "Molecular Detectives: Investigating Protein Structure using X-ray Crystallography" during the Graduate Student Speaker Series March 26 in Exley Science Center.

Katie Kaus, a PhD candidate in molecular biology and biochemistry, spoke on “Molecular Detectives: Investigating Protein Structure using X-ray Crystallography” during the Graduate Student Speaker Series March 26 in Exley Science Center.

The molecular structure of proteins is an important component in studying how proteins interact with each other, providing information about how cellular processes are carried out by specific proteins, Kaus explained. By studying the structure of specific proteins, scientists can understand why germs make us sick.

The molecular structure of proteins is an important component in studying how proteins interact with each other, providing information about how cellular processes are carried out by specific proteins, Kaus explained. By studying the structure of specific proteins, scientists can understand why germs make us sick.

Kaus focused her presentation on members of a family of proteins called bacterial pore forming toxins (PFTs); specifically Vibrio cholerae cytolysin (VCC) and Vibrio vulnificus hemolysin (VVH). These proteins are secreted by pathogenic strains of the aquatic bacteria, V. cholerae and V. vulnificus. V. cholerae is the human pathogen that causes cholera, an endemic disease in several parts of the world. V. vulnificus is found in contaminated seafood, such as raw oysters, as well as contaminated seawater. V. vulnificus most frequently causes gastrointestinal distress but can also cross from the gut into the blood stream resulting in lethal septicemia.

Kaus focused her presentation on members of a family of proteins called bacterial pore forming toxins (PFTs)–specifically Vibrio cholerae cytolysin (VCC) and Vibrio vulnificus hemolysin (VVH). These proteins are secreted by pathogenic strains of the aquatic bacteria, V. cholerae and V. vulnificus. V. cholerae is the human pathogen that causes cholera, an endemic disease in several parts of the world. V. vulnificus is found in contaminated seafood, such as raw oysters, as well as contaminated seawater. V. vulnificus most frequently causes gastrointestinal distress but can also cross from the gut into the blood stream resulting in lethal septicemia.

VCC and VVH are homologous proteins that are secreted by their respective bacteria, bind to macromolecules at the surface of host cells, and undergo structural changes creating lytic pores in the host cell membrane. As part of her research, Kaus is interested in understanding how these bacterial proteins recognize and specifically attack human cells. Guided by biochemical assays, Kaus used a technique called X­-ray crystallography to identify structural relationships between VCC or VVH and the biomolecules each protein binds.

KVCC and VVH are homologous proteins that are secreted by their respective bacteria, bind to macromolecules at the surface of host cells, and undergo structural changes creating lytic pores in the host cell membrane. As part of her research, Kaus is interested in understanding how these bacterial proteins recognize and specifically attack human cells. Guided by biochemical assays, Kaus used a technique called X­-ray crystallography to identify structural relationships between VCC or VVH and the biomolecules each protein binds.

X-­ray crystallography involves obtaining protein molecules in a crystalline form and taking advantage of the manner in which an X­ray beam is diffracted by the atoms that make up these protein crystals, to determine their arrangement within the 3-D space of a protein molecule. Pictured, Kaus looks at crystals under a microscope in Hall Atwater Laboratory.

X-­ray crystallography involves obtaining protein molecules in a crystalline form and taking advantage of the manner in which an X­ray beam is diffracted by the atoms that make up these protein crystals, to determine their arrangement within the 3-D space of a protein molecule. Pictured, Kaus looks at crystals under a microscope in Hall-Atwater Laboratory.

By using this approach, Kaus identified similar, yet distinct molecular mechanisms employed by VCC and VVH to specifically recognize and attack host cell membranes. Understanding how these proteins specifically attack human cells will aid in developing treatments against V. cholerae and V. vulnificus infection.

By using this approach, Kaus identified similar, yet distinct molecular mechanisms employed by VCC and VVH to specifically recognize and attack host cell membranes. Understanding how these proteins specifically attack human cells will aid in developing treatments against V. cholerae and V. vulnificus infection. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Students, Faculty, Alumni Attend Planetary Science Conference in Texas

Students, faculty and alumni involved in planetary science attended the 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference March 16-20 in Houston, Texas.

Jim Greenwood, assistant professor earth and environmental sciences, gave a talk titled “urCl-KREEP? Cl-rich glasses in KREEP basalts 15382 and 15386 and their implications for lunar geochemistry.” Martha Gilmore, chair and professor of earth and environmental sciences and the George I. Seney Professor of Geology, met with the Venus Exploration Analysis Group as a member of its Executive Committee.

Jack Singer ’15 and Lisa Korn MA ’15 presented posters.

Several Wesleyan alumni also made presentations at the conference including James Dottin ’13 (E&ES), now a PhD student at the University of Maryland; Tanya Harrison MA ’08 (E&ES), now a PhD student at the University of Western Ontario; Ann Ollila MA ’08 (E&ES), now at Chevron; Nina Lanza MA ’06 (E&ES), now a scientist at Los Alamos National Lab; Bob Nelson MA ’69 (astronomy), senior scientist at Planetary Science Institute; Ian Garrick-Bethell ’02 (physics), assistant professor at the University of California – Santa Cruz.

Jack Singer ’15 presented a poster titled "High fluorine and chlorine in a chromite-hosted melt inclusion from Apollo 12 olivine basalt 12035.” He was supported by NASA Connecticut Space Grant and is the McKenna Scholar in E&ES. Jim Greenwood is his advisor.

Jack Singer ’15 presented a poster titled “High fluorine and chlorine in a chromite-hosted melt inclusion from Apollo 12 olivine basalt 12035.” He was supported by NASA Connecticut Space Grant and is the McKenna Scholar in E&ES. Singer’s advisor is Jim Greenwood, assistant professor earth and environmental sciences.

Lisa Korn, MA ’15 presented a poster titled "Possible Carbonate Minerals within an Unnamed Gulled Crater in Eridania Basin, Mars.”  She was supported by NASA Connecticut Space Grant and the E&ES Foye Fund. Scott Murchie, the Principal Investigator of the instrument whose data she uses (the CRISM spectrometer in orbit at Mars) showed her work to NASA as an example of the important new discoveries being made with the instrument. Korn's advisor is Marty Gilmore, chair and professor of earth and environmental sciences and the George I. Seney Professor of Geology.

Lisa Korn MA ’15 presented a poster titled “Possible Carbonate Minerals within an Unnamed Gullied Crater in Eridania Basin, Mars.” She was supported by NASA Connecticut Space Grant and the E&ES Foye Fund. Scott Murchie, the Principal Investigator of the instrument whose data she uses (the CRISM spectrometer in orbit at Mars) showed her work to NASA as an example of the important new discoveries being made with the instrument. Korn’s advisor is Martha Gilmore, chair and professor of earth and environmental sciences and the George I. Seney Professor of Geology.

E&ES major  James Dottin ’13 met Marty Gilmore at the conference.

E&ES major James Dottin ’13 met Martha Gilmore at the conference.

Faculty, Distinguished Guest Discuss Tragedy and Revolution

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Matthew Garrett, David Scott and Lily Saint led a discussion on “Tragedy and Revolution” in the Russell House.

On March 5, the Certificate in Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory supported a discussion on “Tragedy and Revolution.” Matthew Garrett, assistant professor of English, assistant professor American studies and director of the Certificate, moderated the discussion.

Assistant Professor Matthew Garrett, visiting distinguished guest David Scott and Assistant Professor Lily Saint led a discussion on “Tragedy and Revolution” March 5 in the Russell House.

David Scott, professor of anthropology at Columbia University and editor of the journal Small Axe, spoke about his recent book, Omens of Adversity: Tragedy, Time, Memory, Justice (Duke University Press, 2014). Lily Saint, assistant professor of English, provided a response to Professor Scott’s book.

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Geese Graze on Andrus Field

A gaggle of geese grazed on a patch of grass March 10 on Andrus Field. Canada geese are year round residents in Connecticut. They look for wide open spaces to feed and breed. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

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Co-Op Provides Local, Sustainable Food Options

The student-run Wesleyan Local Food Co-op sources a large variety of fresh local foods, including Long Lane Farm produce, and distributes them on campus. Besides produce, the co-op distributes fresh dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt and butter), meat, eggs, tofu, seitan, granola, bread and coffee, all locally grown, roasted or made.

The program began solely for students but is now open to staff and faculty participation in the wake of expressed interest. More than 500 members of the Wesleyan community are part of one or more co-ops.

Participants pick up shares Wednesday evenings in Usdan and help once each semester with organization and distribution. For more information e-mail wesleyanlocalcoop@gmail.com.

Photos of the Co-op in February are below: (Photos by Aviva Hirsch ’16)

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Jewish Community Makes Hamantaschen Cookies to Celebrate Purim Holiday

About 30 students gathered in Usdan 110 on March 2 to celebrate the coming of Purim by making hamantaschen. The triangular cookies are filled with a sweet filling, usually made of poppy seeds, and are traditionally eaten during the Purim holiday, which begins on the evening of March 4. Matt Renetzky ’18 and Rabbi Levi Schectman organized the event through Chabad at Wesleyan along with help from Elli Scharlin '18 and Aaron Josephs '18.

About 30 students gathered in Usdan 110 on March 2 to celebrate the coming of Purim by making hamantaschen. The triangular cookies are filled with a sweet filling, usually made of poppy seeds, and are traditionally eaten during the Purim holiday, which begins on the evening of March 4. Matt Renetzky ’18 and Rabbi Levi Schectman (pictured) organized the event through Chabad at Wesleyan along with help from Elli Scharlin ’18 and Aaron Josephs ’18.

Student-Run Espwesso Expands Hours, Welcomes Middletown Community

Emily Pfoutz '16 and Rick Manayan '17 busily make and distribute drinks at Espwesso, Wesleyan's student run cafe.

Rick Manayan ’17 and Emily Pfoutz ’16 busily make and distribute drinks at Espwesso, Wesleyan’s student run café.

Backpack-clad students shuffle into a sunlit room on the first floor of the Allbritton Center, greeted by the scent of freshly brewed coffee and a menu brimming of specialty tea and espresso drinks. It’s Saturday morning, and as of earlier this month, Espwesso, Wesleyan’s only student-run café, has expanded its hours to cater to its Middletown customers.

Espwesso is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Espwesso is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

“Our regulars, and people who before couldn’t be our regulars because of the late night hours, are very excited,” said manager Jasmine Masand ‘15.

Now, the hotspot for delicious fair trade coffee is open for business from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. These new hours are in addition to the former schedule: 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

The movement to expand hours began last year and was spearheaded by former manager Jacob Eichengreen ‘13 and Wesleyan Student Assembly Vice President Andrew Trexler ‘14. The goal of the expansion, Masand says, was to respond to what the community wants: an accessible spot to drink quality coffee for those who aren’t keen on late night caffeine.

“And we also wanted to open up a space where faculty and staff can come in too,” said rising manager Emily Pfoutz ‘16. “There isn’t really a place where faculty and students can interact naturally.”

Already, Espwesso is beginning to see a different kind of crowd during their expanded hours, including many more non-students, both from the faculty and a few from the Middletown community.

“There’s no Starbucks in town; it’s hard to find good coffee,

Indonesian Dancers Perform, Lead Workshop with Green Street TLC Students

Tari Aceh! performers worked with students at the Green Street Arts Center Feb. 25.

Tari Aceh! performers worked with students at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center Feb. 25.

On Feb. 5, the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center hosted dancers from the Connecticut premier of Tari Aceh! (Dance Aceh!). The performance features a group of nine female performers from Aceh, Indonesia on their first-ever tour of the United States. Their dances, inherited from their ancestors, are stunning in their synchronicity and include rhythmic body percussion and the singing of both Islamic liturgical and folk texts, accompanied by percussion. The dancers are between the ages of 14 and 24, and study at Syiah Kuala University, located in Banda Aceh, the capital of the Aceh province on the western Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Green Street held a workshop with the Acehnese dancers for its AfterSchool students. The workshop exposed them to a similar dance from another culture. Afterwards, the Green Street TLC Hip Hop students taught the Indonesian dancers their own dance routine.

A supporter of Green Street TLC, the Center for the Arts regularly includes visiting artists in programming for the AfterSchool program.

A video and photos of the program are below: (Photos by Hannah Norman ’16)

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