Departmental Seminars

The Chemistry and Biochemistry Departmental Seminar Series covers a broad range of fields in the Chemical and Biochemical Sciences. In past seminars, scientists from Academia, Government, and Industry have presented their most recent discoveries and contributions in their respective areas.

This Seminar Series offers students and faculty the opportunity to interact directly with other leaders in their specializations and to gain a good overview of the entire range of fields in Chemistry and Biochemistry.

All seminars will be virtually via Microsoft TEAMS at 12:30pm

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

  • Dr. Marco Bonizzoni, Associate Professor at University of Alabama

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

  • Dr. Loren Williams, Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology
  • "How to think about and study: the Origins, Evolution and Significance of the Ribosome"
  • ABSTRACT: The ribosome is an ancient molecular fossil that provides a telescope to the origins of life. Made from RNA, protein and inorganic cations, the ribosome translates mRNA to coded protein in all living systems. The significance of translation is engrained in universality, antiquity, centrality, and biological economy. The translation machinery dominates the set of genes that are shared as orthologs across the tree of life. The lineage of the translation system defines the universal tree of life. Every coded protein ever produced by life on Earth has passed through the exit tunnel, which is the birth canal of biology. During the root phase of the tree of life, before the last common ancestor of life (LUCA), exit tunnel evolution is dominant and unremitting. Protein folding co-evolved with evolution of the exit tunnel. The ribosome shows that protein folding initiated with intrinsic disorder, supported through a short primitive exit tunnel. Folding progressed to thermodynamically stable β-structures and then to kinetically trapped a-structures, the latter were enabled by a long mature exit tunnel that partially offset the general thermodynamic tendency of all polypeptides to form β-sheets. RNA chaperoned the evolution of protein folding from the very beginning.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 9:30am

  • Dr. Paul W. Baures, Professor, Keene State College
  • "Mentoring Undergraduates Through Collaborative Interdisciplinary Research at Keene State College"
  • ABSTRACT: Chemistry and biology students in the Baures laboratory at Keene State College have been engaged in collaborative interdisciplinary undergraduate research projects in medicinal chemistry and material science. In addition to the scientific gains made in these projects as a result of their efforts, the students are also learning to be independent scientists by putting their fundamental knowledge into practice. The medicinal chemistry project is collaborative with Dartmouth College and has a goal of optimizing an inhibitor of the thioesterase domain of fatty acid synthase, which is an oncogenic protein. A collaborative materials science project with a goal of developing antifreeze coatings from peptide-polymer and protein-polymer hybrids is also underway. This research involves collaborators at both UNH and the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL). A related project investigating the structure-function activity of a macrocycle with antifreeze activity was started this past year. The presentation will highlight the progress made to date in each project, the background and potential applications enabled by the research, as well as the contributions made by the undergraduate researchers at KSC.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 12:30pm

  • Dr. Justin H. Carmel, Assistant Professor at Florida International University
  • "Short Stories about Students’ Science and Chemistry Identity"
  • ABSTRACT: While much of the research in CER has focused on students’ understanding of particular concepts, integration of knowledge, and sophistication of explanations of phenomena, there is another side to students that needs to be addressed. As highlighted by the DBER report and others, students’ beliefs, attitudes, and expectations toward the subject (i.e. the affective domain) can influence their success and persistence in their courses and potentially in their future career field. While a students’ full identity is a complex interweaving of all of their unique facets not to be untangled, the goal of our research is to understand how these intersecting identities complement each other or work in opposition. Developing and maintaining a particular identity can be influenced by numerous factors, including the students’ own beliefs, attitudes toward the subject, race/ethnicity, gender, steadfastness of their identity, and presence/absence of support. Further, identity has been demonstrated to have an effect on outcome expectations, career interest, and career choice. This presentation will consist of short vignettes of students’ science and chemistry identity and how particular intersecting identities may influence the development of someone identifying as a “chemistry” or “science person.”

Thursday, March 4, 2021

  • Dr. Mac Gilliland, Assistant Professor, Furman University
  • "Mass Spectrometry for Targeted Analysis of Pharmaceuticals"
  • ABSTRACT: Mass spectrometry (MS) is considered the gold standard for many analyses because of its ability to sensitively and selectively identify a wide range of chemical targets. These analyses include characterization of prescription and abused drugs as well as process characterization in pharmaceutical manufacturing. I will present two applications of MS for analysis of different pharmaceuticals: MS imaging of medicines used to treat HIV and high pressure MS for on-site monitoring of biopharmaceutical production.

    Adherence to antiretroviral medications is critical for the treatment of HIV. My postdoctoral research focused on using MS imaging of hair as a clinical tool to monitor patient adherence to antiretrovirals. We used MS imaging to study hair strands from volunteers in a clinical study on known dosing regimens to characterize the response of single doses and daily doses of antiretrovirals. We also characterized the effect of hair treatment on detection of several classes of antiretrovirals in individual hair strands. In the future, this goal of this approach will be to detect gaps in adherence and give medical providers a tool to better address adherence concerns with their patients.

    While mass spectrometers are incredibly powerful tools, the size and expense of MS platforms, especially their vacuum systems, often limits them to centralized laboratories. My graduate work centered on development of high pressure MS (³1 Torr) to reduce vacuum requirements and enable MS miniaturization. Specifically, microchip capillary electrophoresis was coupled with high pressure MS to characterize amino acids in cellular growth medium. The end goal was to produce a fully miniaturized CE-MS platform for monitoring cellular growth with target applications in the production of biopharmaceuticals.

Friday, March 5, 2021 at 3:30pm

  • Dr. Maris A. Cinelli, Senior Research Associate, Michigan State University
  • "New Compounds from Old Weeds: is 'Alkaloid Hunting' a Lost Art in 2021"
  • ABSTRACT: Although modern chemical synthesis techniques have revolutionized the pace of drug discovery, a significant portion of approved drugs can still trace their roots to natural products. Alkaloids – compounds containing a basic nitrogen – are especially prized for their medicinal properties. Plants in the genus Datura (family Solanaceae) produce tropane alkaloids such as hyoscyamine, scopolamine, and others. Discovery of novel alkaloids from this genus could have implications in drug development or serve as a launching point for enzyme and gene discovery useful in plant breeding or bioengineering. We performed untargeted LC-ESIMS-based metabolite profiling [including by data dependent-analysis (DDA) MS/MS] of extracts of Datura stramonium, a widespread and common American Datura species also known as Jimsonweed. We observed that D. stramonium produces a stunning assortment of tropane alkaloids, including hydroxy and acyltropanes. Surprisingly, D. stramonium roots also contain numerous acyltropane alkaloids with odd-mass MH+ values, suggesting (along with their MS/MS product ion spectra) the presence of an extra nitrogen in the acyl portion. Further analysis of the fragmentation patterns of these alkaloids suggested that they are indole-tropane hybrids, and tropane alkaloids containing nitrogenous acylations (including indoles) are unprecedented in the Solanaceae! Indole motifs are sometimes employed in drugs because of their similarity to serotonin, making this class of alkaloids of potential medicinal interest. The discovery of these alkaloids highlights the utility of untargeted metabolite profiling with DDA MS/MS for the identification of new plant natural product.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

  • Dr. Austin Jones, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Georgia Institute of Technology
  • "Synthesizing Dioxythiophene Conjugated Polymers with High Conductivity using Direct(Hetero) Arylation Polymerization"
  • ABSTRACT: In order to push conjugated polymers (CPs) toward industrial relevancy, strategies must be used that reduce the amount of synthetic steps, use high yielding reactions, and eliminate the use of toxic reagents. Dioxythiophene (co)polymers, and the synthesis thereof, have distinct chemical advantages that make them good candidates for large-scale manufacturing. Moreover, dioxthiophene (co)polymers have been applied to many redox-active applications including electrochromics, transparent electrodes, organic field effect transistors, and organic thermoelectrics due to their unique optoelectronic properties, potential for solution processing, and ability to delocalize/transport charge between and along polymer chains. Direct(hetero) arylation polymerization (DHAP) is a promising technique that reduces the amount of synthetic monomer steps by removing reactive groups, such as tin or boron substituents, and instead uses C-H activation in the catalytic cycle. A drawback for using DHAP is the reduced reaction selectivity where defects in the polymer chain, in the form of β-coupling and homocoupling, may exist. Dioxythiophene-based monomers are ideal reagents for DHAP due to their blocked 3- and 4-positions, which eliminates the possibility of branching defects along the polymer backbone due to β-coupling. With this in mind, I will present two studies using a dioxythiophene copolymer comprised of 2,2'-bis-(3,4-ethylenedioxy)thiophene (biEDOT) and 3,4-propylenedioxythiophene (ProDOT) substituted with either branched aliphatic or polar oligo(ether) side chains. The first study will investigate monomer homocoupling in different dioxythiophene copolymer (PE2) batches using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry (MS). This work will correlate differences in DHAP polymerization techniques with polymer structure and solid-state conductivity of the resulting material. The second study will build off this work by investigating alternative DHAP techniques for branched oligo(ether) functionalized PE2 polymers that will ultimately lead to CPs with acetone processability and average solid-state conductivities on the order of 430 ± 60 S/cm.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - Join via Microsoft TEAMS »

  • Dr. Amy C. Marschilok, Associate Professor at Stony Brook University
  • "Batteries for a Green Energy Future: Progress and Opportunities"
  • ABSTRACT: Batteries are ubiquitous in our everyday lives and often appear as black boxes.  However, the chemistry inherent to their function is diverse and complicated.  This talk will highlight progress and opportunities employing electrochemical energy storage to build a green energy future.  Examples of mechanistic insight gained from in-situ and operando characterization of functional systems will be highlighted.
  • BIO: Dr. Marschilok holds a joint appointment as Scientist and Energy Storage Division Manager in the Interdisciplinary Science Department at Brookhaven National Laboratory and serves as Deputy Director for the Center for Mesoscale Transport Properties, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Dr. Marschilok was previously employed as a Senior Scientist in the Medical Battery Research and Development group at Greatbatch Inc., where she was recognized as a Visionary of the Year.  Her current research centers on materials and electrode concepts for high power, high energy density, extended life batteries. She is also interested in electrochemistry based approaches for materials synthesis and characterization.  She has mentored over 50 student researchers and co-authored over 185 publications.