Tag Archive for Chemistry

Taylor’s Papers Published in Molecular Biosciences, Biochemistry Journals

Erika Taylor

Erika Taylor

Erika Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of environmental studies, has co-authored a paper published in FEBS Letters, an international journal established for the rapid publication of final short reports in the fields of molecular biosciences.

The paper, which is an expansion of her lab’s work on the enzyme Heptosyltransferase I, is titled “Cloning and Characterization of the Escherichia coli Heptosyltransferase III: Exploring Substrate Specificity in Lipopolysaccharide Core Biosynthesis,” The paper is co-authored by her former graduate student Jagadesh Mudapaka. FEBS Letters is published by Elsevier on behalf of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies.

Taylor also is the co-author of “Improving Alternate Lignin Catabolite Utilization of LigAB from Sphingobium sp. strain SYK-6 through Site Directed Mutagenesis,” published in Process Biochemistry, June 2015. The work in this paper describes molecular engineering of the enzyme LigAB to be better able to metabolize compounds derived from Lignin. Co-authors include Kevin Barry, PhD ’15; Erin Cohn ’15 and Abraham Ngu ’13.

Taylor presented her research “Thoughts about Adenosine: Efforts in Drug Discovery of Nucleoside Utilizing Enzymes” at the Gordon Research Conference: Nucleosides, Nucleotides and Oligonucleotides in July. Her talk described the work she is performing to help in drug discovery for two enzymes from E. coli, Heptosyltransferase I and the TrmD tRNA methyltransferase, and one human enzyme, p300 histone acetyl transferase.

“Our work in these systems involves computational modeling of interactions between small molecules and the enzymes, to help design new compounds with medical applications,” Taylor explained.

Grad Student Ranasinghe Speaks on Computational Chemistry

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Duminda Ranasinghe, a Ph.D. candidate in Chemistry, spoke April 16 in Exley in the fourth event of the Graduate Student Speaker Series. (Photos by Hannah Norman ’16.)

Ranasinghe gave a talk titled “Computational Chemistry: Chemistry Without Chemical.”

Ranasinghe gave a talk titled “Computational Chemistry: Chemistry Without Chemical.”

Computational chemistry uses quantum mechanics to predict reactions and molecular properties.

Computational chemistry uses quantum mechanics to predict reactions and molecular properties.

Over the past decade, computational chemistry has become popular with chemists as a tool to explore reactions and molecules. At Wesleyan, researchers are making reliable computational methods, which are accurate and faster than what is currently available.

Over the past decade, computational chemistry has become popular with chemists as a tool to explore reactions and molecules. At Wesleyan, researchers are making reliable computational methods, which are accurate and faster than what is currently available.

Othon, Taylor Students Published in Physical Chemistry Letters

Christina Othon and Erika Taylor, along with physics graduate student Nimesh Shukla, Lee Chen ’15, Inha Cho ’15 and Erin Cohn ’15, are the co-authors of a paper titled “Sucralose Destabilization of Protein Structure” published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, March 2015. Othon is assistant professor of physics and was PI on the paper. Taylor is assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of environmental studies.

Sucralose is a commonly employed artificial sweetener that behaves very differently than its natural disaccharide counterpart, sucrose, in terms of its interaction with biomolecules. This research suggests that people may need to think about the impact of sucralose (a.k.a. Splenda) on their proteins.

Watch Othon explain associated research in this video. She speaks around the 34 minute mark.

Women in Science Gather for Tea Reception, Female Scientists Discussion

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About 30 Wesleyan students and faculty gathered for a Wesleyan Women in Science (WesWIS) Tea Reception Feb. 19 at the Wasch Center. Women in Science is a student group composed of undergraduates, post-docs, staff and faculty dedicated to issues affecting women in science. The group is open to all majors and genders.

During the gathering, guest speaker Michelle Francl, professor of chemistry on the Clowes Fund for Science and Public Policy at Bryn Mawr College, spoke to the group about physicist and chemist Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.

Francl handed out copies of her commentary titled “Sex and the Citadel of Science,” which was published in the August 2011 edition of Nature Chemistry, and included a copy of the journal’s cover — a portrait of Marie Curie’s face created from photographs of 200 women scientists (including Francl’s). “I’m actually in here twice. There’s another picture in here of my mother, who also was a chemist, holding me as an infant,” she said.

“I love how energized the room felt at the WesWIS tea,” said Meredith Hughes, assistant professor of astronomy. “It was exciting to have Dr. Francl there, and also to get so many energetic Wesleyan women scientists all in one place!”

WesWIS Steering Committee members Alex Irace ’15 and and Maya Lopez-Ichikawa ’18 spoke about the group and introduced Professor Francl. Francl also delivered two workshops on contemplative pedagogy during her time at Wesleyan.

Photos of the event are below:

Wesleyan Women in Science Tea Reception, Feb. 19, 2015.

Northrop Co-Authors Paper with Middletown Student

Brian Northrop, assistant professor of chemistry, is the co-author of several new papers including:

Preparation and Analysis of Cyclodextrin-Based Metal-Organic Frameworks: Laboratory Experiments Adaptable for High School through Advanced Undergraduate Students,” published in Journal of Chemical Education 92, pages 368-372, 2015. Samantha Angle, a Middletown High School student working in Northrop’s lab, co-authored the paper. (See cover at left.)

Rational Synthesis of Bis(hexyloxy)-Tetra(hydroxy)-Triphenylenes and their Derivatives,” published in RSC Advances 4, pages 38,281-392 in 2014;

Vibrational Properties of Boroxine Anhydride and Boronate Ester Materials: Model Systems for the Diagnostic Characterization of Covalent Organic Frameworks,” published in Chemistry of Materials 26, pages 3,781-95 in 2014;

And “Allyl-Functionalized Dioxynaphthalene[38]Crown-10 Macrocycles: Synthesis, Self-Assembly, and Thiol-Ene Functionalization,” published in Chemistry—A European Journal 20, pages 999-1,009 in 2014.

Novick’s Papers Focus on van der Walls Complex, Trifluoroanisole Water

Stewart Novick

Stewart Novick

Stewart Novick, chair and professor of chemistry, is the co-author of several papers published in 2014. They include:

“The microwave spectra and structure of the argon-cyclopentanone and neon-cyclopentanone van der Waals complexes,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry A 118, pages 856-861;

“The shape of trifluoromethoxybenzene,” published in the Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy 297, pages 32-34;

“Fluorination effects on the shapes of complexes of water with ethers: a rotational study of trifluoroanisole-water,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, A 118, pages 1,047-51;

“Measurement of the J = 1 – 0 pure rotational transition in excited vibrational states of X 1Σ Thorium (II) Oxide,” Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy, 302, 1-2;

And “H2 AgCl: a spectroscopic study of a dihydrogen (metal halide complexes with hydrogen) complex,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, 141, 114306.

Frisch Published in Multiple Chemistry Journals, Publications

Michael Frisch

Michael Frisch

Michael Frisch, research professor of in chemistry, is the co-author of many articles published in 2014.

They include: “Analytical harmonic vibrational frequencies for the green fluorescent protein computed with ONIOM: Chromophore mode character and its response to environment,” published in the Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, 10, pages 751-766;

“Quantum calculations in solution for large to very large molecules: A new linear scaling QM/continuum approach,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemical Letters, 5, pages 953-958;

“Density of states guided Møller-Plesset perturbation theory,” published in the Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, 10, pages 1,910-14;

“Practical auxiliary basis implementation of Rung 3.5 functionals,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, 141, 034103;

“A computational protocol for modeling thermochromic molecular crystals: salicylidene aniline as a case study,” published in the Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, 10, pages 5,577-85;

“Assessment of low-scaling approximations to the equation of motion coupled-cluster singles and doubles equations,” the Journal of Physical Chemistry, 141, 164116;

“Quantum, classical and hybrid QM/MM calculations in solution: General implementation of the ddCOSMO linear scaling strategy,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, 141, 184108;

“Ab initio non-relativistic spin dynamics,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, 141, 214111;

And “How far do electrons delocalize?,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry. 141, 144104.

Paper by Taylor, Students Show How Enzymes Break down Lignin

Erika Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of environmental studies, is the author of a paper “Exploring Allosteric Activation of LigAB from Sphingobium sp. strain SYK-6 through Kinetics, Mutagenesis and Computational Studies,” published in Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Vol, 567, pages 35-45, February 2015.

Co-authors include graduate students Kevin Barry and Joy Cote; Erin Cohn ’15, Abraham Ngu ’13 and former graduate student Jason Gerbino.

Development of renewable alternatives for petroleum derived fuels and chemicals is of increasing importance because of limits on the amount of fossil fuels that are available on the planet. In an effort to improve the utilization of lingo-cellulosic biomass sources (which includes switchgrasses, trees and other terrestrial plants) for the production of these chemicals, Taylor and her students have been working to enhance the understanding of how Lignin is broken down in nature (by environmental fungi and bacteria). As part of this work, they study an enzyme called LigAB from Sphingobium sp. strain SYK-6.

In a recent study, Taylor’s group showed that this enzyme works faster in the presence of vanillin, a molecule that is produced in large quantities as Lignin is depolymerized (which also is the primary ingredient in vanilla extract).

“The activation of LigAB is exciting because the enzymes that break down vanillin show that an organism can more efficiently metabolize all of the compounds — or get energy from the abundant molecule more quickly. This is the first time that an enzyme like LigAB has been shown to be responsive to other metabolically linked molecules, and it suggests that the flux of compounds through this pathway may be more complicated and interesting that initially predicted,” Taylor said.

Now, the group is interested in figuring out exactly how this activation works and also if there are any relatives of LigAB that exhibit similar behavior.

Neuroscience Major Russell ’15 an A Cappella Singer, Organic Chemistry TA

Colin Russell '15 sings with two a cappella groups on campus and works as a Senior Interviewer in the Office of Admission. "My goal is to personalize a student’s application as much as possible, and it has been a joy to meet so many accomplished high school seniors," he said. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Colin Russell ’15 sings with two a cappella groups on campus and works as a Senior Interviewer in the Office of Admission. “My goal is to personalize a student’s application as much as possible, and it has been a joy to meet so many accomplished high school seniors,” he said. Colin plans on applying to medical school next spring. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

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In this Q&A meet Colin Russell from the Class of 2015.

Q: Colin, what are you majoring in? What have been your most instrumental courses so far?

A: I am majoring in neuroscience and behavior while also on the pre-medical path. Two of the most instrumental courses in my journey through Wes have been Organic Chemistry and the Organic Chemistry Lab that is paired with the lecture course. The reputation of Organic Chemistry was extremely intimidating prior to taking the course, and I was nervous that I would not like this subject that is the basis for so much of the biological world. However, I soon learned that I enjoyed the structure of subject, not just in the way it was taught, but in the way that my brain began to process information. The concurrent lab course, while extremely difficult, also allowed for hands-on application of the processes and reactions that we were learning in the lecture class. I enjoyed the course so much that I became a Teacher’s Assistant for the lab, and I will be starting my fourth semester as a TA for the lab in the spring. Not only has the information from these two courses been crucial for my studies, but the process of meeting the challenges of these two classes has also been extremely important in my academic journey.

Q: You’re currently a Senior Interviewer in the Office of Admission. Please describe that role.

A: Joining the Office of Admission team has critically shaped my senior year and outlook on Wesleyan. I have learned much not only about the admissions process, but also a ton about Wesleyan and her students. As Senior Interviewers, we are expected to know about the various corners of campus life, and so I found myself seeking out ways to soak up random tidbits,

Northrop Teaches Students at Green Street about Polymers through Putty Workshop

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Brian Northrop teaches a student at the Green Street Arts Center how to properly mix the putty’s ingredients.

On Nov. 3, Brian Northrop, assistant professor of chemistry, spoke to students at the Green Street Arts Center about polymers. As part of the hands-on workshop, Northrop taught the participants how to make their own silicone polymer putty with glue, water, Borax and food coloring.

Similar putty was accidentally invented during World War II when an American scientist working for General Electric in New Haven, Conn. was trying to create synthetic rubber using silicone oil and boric acid. The result produced a “solid-liquid” goo that had a high melting temperature, could bounce when dropped, and stretch. The product is most commonly known as Silly Putty, a trademark of Crayola LLC.

Northrop’s workshop is funded through a 2014 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award. This is the second year that he’s taught students at the GSAC.

Photos of the polymer workshop are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

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Graduate Students, Faculty Attend American Chemical Society Meeting

Chemistry graduate student Duminda Ranasinghe spoke about his research on "Density functional for core-valence correlation energy."

Chemistry graduate student Duminda Ranasinghe spoke about his research on “Density functional for core-valence correlation energy.”

Two graduate students and two faculty attended the 248th national meeting of the American Chemical Society Aug. 10-14 in San Francisco, Calif.

Chemistry graduate students Duminda Ranasinghe delivered a poster presentation on her research titled “Efficient extrapolation to the (T)/CBS limit” and an oral presentation on “Density functional for core-valence correlation energy.”

"Assessing weak interactions in small dimer systems with PM7."

Chemistry graduate student Kyle Throssell presented a poster titled “Assessing weak interactions in small dimer systems with PM7.”

Chemistry graduate student Kyle Throssell presented two poster presentations on “Potential curves of selected radical thiol double additions to alkynes” and “Assessing weak interactions in small dimer systems with PM7.”

The students were accompanied by George Petersson, the Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of chemistry; and Michael Frisch, research professor in chemistry.

Wesleyan Faculty Teach Fifth Graders about Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Astronomy

Fifth graders from Snow Elementary School in Middletown toured Wesleyan’s astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics and scientific imaging departments on June 18, 2014. Students also visited the Joe Webb Peoples Museum and Collections in Exley Science Center.

Brian Northrop, assistant professor of chemistry, used the reversible hydration and dehydration of cobalt(II) chloride to demonstrate Le Chatelier's principle and create color-changing "humidity sensors." Pieces of filter paper were saturated with a solution of cobalt(II) in water, which turned the paper pink. Warming the paper with a blow dryer evaporated the water and turned the paper blue by re-forming cobalt(II) chloride.

Brian Northrop, assistant professor of chemistry, used the reversible hydration and dehydration of cobalt(II) chloride to demonstrate Le Chatelier’s principle and create color-changing “humidity sensors.” Pieces of filter paper were saturated with a solution of cobalt(II) in water, which turned the paper pink. Warming the paper with a blow dryer evaporated the water and turned the paper blue by re-forming cobalt(II) chloride.

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Research student Jesse Mangiardi ’15 Mangiardi ’15 demonstrated how to change the chemical composition — and color — of a penny. First he submerged a copper penny in a solution containing zinc mixed with a base, which coated the penny in zinc and made it appear silver. Next, he heated the zinc-coated penny with a blow torch which caused the zinc and copper to react and form brass, and turned a penny bright gold.

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The students took a few silver and gold pennies back with them to Snow School.