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.
Green Street Director Sara MacSorley accepts a $12,500 grant from Dr. William Petit.
Wesleyan’s Green Street Teaching and Learning Center has received a $12,500 grant from the Petit Family Foundation to support the center’s Girls in Science Summer Camp. Green Street Director Sara MacSorley accepted the gift from Dr. William Petit.
The Green Street Girls in Science Summer Camp will take place August 3 – 7 and will be open to girls entering grades 4, 5, and 6. Erika Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of environmental studies, Ruth Johnson, assistant professor of biology, and Christina Othon, assistant professor of physics, will participate in the five-day program, covering topics from biochemistry to physics and culminating in a science showcase to share projects with family and friends. The camp will be held at Green Street, but students will also spend time in teaching labs on Wesleyan’s campus.
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Lori Gruen is chair and professor of philosophy, professor of environmental studies, and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.
Lori Gruen, professor and chair of philosophy, discussed her new book, Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationships with Animals, with University of Colorado Professor Emeritus Mark Bekoff in The Huffington Post. Bekoff calls the book “a wonderful addition to a growing literature in the transdisciplinary field called anthrozoology, the study of human-animal relationships.”
Gruen defines “entangled empathy” as “a process whereby we first acknowledge that we are already in relationships with all sorts of other animals (humans and non-humans) and these relationships are, for the most part, not very good ones. We then work to figure out how to make them better and that almost always means trying to promote well-being and flourishing.”
She adds, “One thing I think is crucial in our process of thinking differently about our relationships is to recognize that making those relationships better requires practice. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution. We need to continually learn more about ourselves and others to improve the lives of everyone. We will make mistakes, so we should always engage with a fair dose of humility, but also be hopeful that we can fix our mistakes and hone our empathetic skills.”
Read the full interview here.
Gruen also recently penned an op-ed titled, “Ban Greyhound Racing Now,” published on Al Jazeera America’s website. She relates her personal experience adopting a rescued greyhound who was a former racing dog, and more generally describes the “grotesque cruelty in the racing industry.”
Gruen also is professor of environmental studies, and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.
A book by Marc Eisner, the Henry Merritt Wriston Chair of Public Policy, was selected as a winner of the Outstanding Academic Titles by Choice in 2014.
Eisner’s book, The American Political Economy was published in 2014. In this innovative text, he portrays the state and the market as inextricably linked, exploring the variety of institutions subsumed by the market and the role that the state plays in creating the institutional foundations of economic activity. Through a historical approach, Eisner situates the study of American political economy within a larger evolutionary-institutional framework that integrates perspectives in American political development and economic sociology.
Eisner also is chair and professor of government, professor of environmental studies.
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.
Two faculty members and two graduate students co-authored a paper published in the July 18 edition of the academic journal, Biochemistry.
Erika Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of environmental studies; Manju Hingorani, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry; chemistry graduate student Daniel Czyzyk; and molecular biology and biochemistry graduate student Shreya Sawant wrote the paper, “Escherichia coli Heptosyltransferase I: Investigation of Protein Dynamics of a GT-B Structural Enzyme.”
It appears online here.
Biochemistry is a publication of the American Chemical Society.
Fred Cohan, chair and professor of biology, professor of environmental studies, is the co-author of “Species,” published in the Encyclopedia of Genetics, Amsterdam, Elsevier, 2013; “Accuracy and efficiency of algorithms for demarcating bacterial ecotypes from DNA sequence data,” published in BMC Genomics, 2013; and “Speedy speciation in a bacterial microcosm: New species can arise as frequently as adaptations within a species,” published in the ISME Journal’s Advance Online Publication, 2013.
Johan “Joop” Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, professor of environmental studies, was elected as president of the Board of Trustees of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE).
The CFE is an organization of environmental advocacy, habitat restoration and outreach with about 20 staff members. Its mission is to protect and improve the land, air and water of Connecticut and Long Island Sound by using legal and scientific expertise and by bringing people together to achieve results that benefit the environment for current and future generations.
Johan “Joop” Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, professor of environmental studies, received a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation in January. He will use the funds to build a new X-Ray Fluorescence lab in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department.
The lab will be used for analyzing rocks, soils and waters.
Laura Stark, assistant professor of sociology, assistant professor of science in society, assistant professor of environmental studies, received a grant worth $6,900 from the American Sociological Association for her study titled “How do research subjects affect biomedical studies?” The grant was awarded Oct. 21.
Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of earth and environmental sciences, professor of biology and director of the Environmental Studies Certificate Program, highlights the new Environmental Studies Linked Major and ENVS certificate program Sept. 11 in Usdan University Center.
From his home in Hawaii, Evan Weber ’13 can walk a couple hundred yards and be standing in the Pacific Ocean. Or, he can walk a couple hundred yards and be on the Ka’iwa Ridge, climbing through forests.
As a result of his fortunate placement, Weber grew up with a deep connection to the natural world and developed a sense of personal duty to preserve and uphold the “multifaceted wonder that is our home, Earth,” he says.
At Wesleyan, Weber plans to expand his appreciation and knowledge for the planet by double majoring in the new Environmental Studies (ENVS) Linked Major. The new area of study is more than an expansion of the Environmental Studies Certificate Program.
“My interest in environmental studies has to do with taking my spiritual, ethical and conservational ideas about nature and helping to disperse these ideas into the semi-functional globalized, industrialized, materialistic and political society that we are all members of,” Weber explains. “When one has the opportunity to know nature as place of solitude, a place for reflection, a thing
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