Tag Archive for Chemistry

Bolton Receives NIH Grant for Gene Expression Research

Philip Bolton

Philip Bolton

Philip Bolton, professor of chemistry, received a grant for $331,800 from the National Institute of Health on Drug Abuse for his research on “Finding Small Molecules that Modulate Gene Expression.”

The grant, awarded on Sept. 1, spans for two years.

NIH Awards Pratt Grant for Active Site Chemistry

Rex Pratt

Rex Pratt

Rex Pratt, the Beach Professor of Chemistry, received a grant for $414,750 from the National Institute of Health and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The continuation grant was awarded July 30. Pratt’s research is titled “Beta-Lactamases & DD-Peptidases: Active site Chemistry.”

Students Learn Teaching Tips at Professional Development Workshop

Noreen Nkosana '11 akes notes during the Professional Development Workshop July 24 in Daniel Family Commons. The workshop was designed for students who are considering careers in academia.

Noreen Nkosana '11 takes notes during the Professional Development Workshop July 24 in Daniel Family Commons. The workshop was designed for students who are considering careers in academia.

Pedagogy expert James Zimmerman, center, from Montclair State University taught the workshop.

Pedagogy expert and associate professor of chemistry James Zimmerman, center, from Montclair State University and Erika Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry, co-taught the two-part workshop.

Chemistry graduate student Jessica Fedorchick, center, learns pedagogical and curricular tools used to pique students' curiosity in the classroom.

Chemistry graduate student Jessica Fedorchick, center, learns pedagogical and curricular tools used to pique students' curiosity in the classroom.

Biology graduate student Jiang "Shannon" Liu, was one of the graduate and advanced undergraduate students who learned "how to teach" with theory and examples.

Biology graduate student Jiang "Shannon" Liu, was one of the graduate and advanced undergraduate students who learned "how to teach" with theory and examples. This was the second year Wesleyan hosted the workshop. The workshop is supported by a Seed Grant from the Pedagogical Renewal Committee and the Hughes program. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett Drake)

Brian Northrop: Assistant Professor Joins Chemistry Department

Brian Northrop, assistant professor of chemistry, will teach Principles of Chemistry in Fall 2009. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

Brian Northrop, assistant professor of chemistry, will teach Principles of Chemistry in Fall 2009. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

Brian Northrop has joined the Chemistry Department as the assistant professor of chemistry.

His research focuses on the design, synthesis and analysis of new organic materials utilizing molecular recognition, self-assembly and dynamic covalent chemistry.

“I wanted to work at a school that has a strong emphasis on teaching and the liberal arts, but I also really enjoy doing high-level research in chemistry and Wesleyan allows me to do both,” Northrop says. “Wesleyan is unique in it’s size and strengths, and I’m very excited to be here.”

Northrop graduated from Middlebury College in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and minors in physics and math. After working in the flavor laboratory at Nestlé in New Milford, Conn., Northrop started graduate school at the University of California, Los Angeles, finishing with a Ph.D in 2006. There, he used experimental and theoretical techniques to study a variety of problems in physical organic and organic materials such as sigmatropic rearrangements, mechanically-interlocked molecules, molecular motors, self-assembly and dynamic covalent chemistry.

Through a National Science Foundation-sponsored Materials Creation Training Program, Northrop spent an additional five months at Bell Laboratories/Lucent Technologies (now Alcatel-Lucent) investigating organic semiconductors.

He was a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at the University of Utah between 2006-09, focusing his research on the design and synthesis of metal-organic supramolecules via coordination-driven self-assembly.

Next fall, he will teach Principles of Chemistry I (CHEM 145) with Stewart Novick, professor of chemistry. He’s also developing a course on materials chemistry and nanoscience, which he will teach in the spring.

Northrop is the co-author of more than 35 articles published in prominent chemistry journals. His papers titled “Introduction of Heterofunctional Groups onto Molecular Hexagons via Coordination-Driven Self-Assembly,” “Geometry Directed Self-Selection in the Coordination-Driven Self-Assembly of Irregular Supramolecular Polygons” and “Synthesis of Six-Component Metallodendrimers via [3+3] Coordination-Driven Self-Assembly,” were all published in the Journal of Organic Chemistry in 2009.

Aside from developing the new course and setting up his lab, Northrop plans to immerse himself in the Wesleyan community.

“I’d like to take advantage of the many additional opportunities Wesleyan provides, such as the film and art events, and watching hockey and football games,” he says.

Outside the lab, Northrop enjoys downhill skiing, hiking, racing triathlons and spending time with his wife, Elizabeth, and their four-month-old daughter, Darcey.

Mukerji Awarded NSF Funding for Her DNA Research

Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, uses a UV resonance Raman spectrometer to measure molecular vibrations. She examines the structure of DNA, to understand how protein modulation of the structure can lead to tumors and other diseases.

Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, uses a UV resonance Raman spectrometer to measure molecular vibrations. She examines the structure of DNA, to understand how protein modulation of the structure can lead to tumors and other diseases.

Errors in genomic DNA can lead to tumors and other diseases. By probing specific DNA structures, Ishita Mukerji hopes to gain an understanding of how such medical conditions can be prevented or possibly cured.

Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, studies how different proteins recognize and bind to DNA. Specifically, she examines four-stranded DNA structures, known as “Holliday junctions,” which are involved in DNA repair and recombination. These are different from the common, two-stranded DNA.

On April 1, Mukerji will receive a four-year grant worth $798,368 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund her research project, “Structure and Function of Holliday Junctions Complexed With Proteins Probed by Fluorescence and UV Raman Spectroscopic Methods.”

“Both DNA repair and recombination are vital functions of the cell, which are needed to maintaining a stable and active genome,” Mukerji explains. “Our goal is to study the structure of the junctions and how that relates to their function.”

Holliday junction structures can be changed by protein binding. Mukerji will examine how these structures are altered by proteins that are known to be involved in repair and recombination and are known to bind to junctions.

“These studies address the overall mechanism of how DNA recombination occurs in the cell and the function of these proteins,” she says.

Chemistry graduate students Andrew Moreno and Jon King, MBB graduate student Yan Li and molecular biology and biochemistry major Olga Buzovetsky ’10, will assist Mukerji with the ongoing research.

Two different methods are used to study the DNA interactions: fluorescence spectroscopy and a laser technique, UV resonance Raman spectroscopy. By using the fluorescence method, the Mukerji group can examine and compare the structure of the junction and the protein-binding sites. By using the Raman technique, which examines molecular vibrations, they can probe protein and ion binding sites.

Wesleyan’s Chemistry Department and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department own several fluorescence spectrometers, and Mukerji has built her own, specialized UV resonance Raman spectrometer.

Most of the proposed research will be completed in Mukerji’s lab, although some computational studies will be done in collaboration with David Beveridge, the University Professor of the Sciences and mathematics, professor of chemistry. She is also collaborating with the Hingorani lab (MBB department) to study how proteins involved in mismatch repair and meiotic recombination bind to Holliday junctions. One set of experiments will be conducted at SUNY Buffalo.

The group will also examine how the protein-junction complex either facilitates or suppresses certain processes.

“One theory that we have is that the proteins we are studying suppress recombination as a means of preserving or maintaining the genome.” Mukerji says. “This is an idea that will be tested with the proposed experiments.”

Faculty, Students Attend Biophysical Society Meeting

A group of Wesleyan faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, along with three post-docs from the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and Chemistry departments, attended the 53rd Annual Biophysical Society Meeting in Boston.

Several labs contributed posters including those run by David Beveridge, the University Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics, professor of chemistry; Irina Russu, professor of chemistry; Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry; Don Oliver, the Daniel Ayres Professor of Biology, chair and professor of molecular biology and biochemistry; and Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Noah Biro ’09 was a co-author on a poster contributed by Hingorani lab. David Snydacker ’09 and Maiko Kondo ’07 were co-authors on posters contributed by Mukerji lab.

Mukerji was a speaker on a panel titled “Transition from Postdoc to Faculty.”

Free Radicals Teach Children Chemistry at Eid ul-Fitr

At left, Tresne Hernandez '12 and Ross Firestone '12 demonstrate how to blow up a balloon with baking soda and vinegar by producing carbon dioxide. The students are part of the Chemistry Department's Free Radicals group, which participated in the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut’s Carnival to commemorate the end of Ramadan in October.

At left, Tresne Hernandez '12 and Ross Firestone '12 demonstrate how to blow up a balloon with baking soda and vinegar by producing carbon dioxide. The students are part of the Chemistry Department's Free Radicals group, which participated in the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut’s Eid ul-Fitr Carnival to commemorate the end of Ramadan in October. Eid ul-Fitr is one of two major lunar festivals in the Islamic calendar.

Cutting-edge Research Showcased at Molecular Biophysics Retreat

The ninth annual Molecular Biophysics Retreat was held at Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown on Sept. 18. The event was organized by David Beveridge, professor of chemistry and the University Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics; Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology; and Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology.