Professor Karen Allen and Dr. Jeff Bacon, staff crystallographer of the Chemical Instrumentation Center (CIC), demonstrated the power of X-ray crystallography to local area high school students as part of an American Crystallographic Association (ACA) outreach program. The scientists hosted two groups. In March, 12 students from Acton-Boxborough Regional High School and their teacher, Aaron Mathieu visited; and in May, 15 students from Prospect Hill Academy and their teacher, Katie Boiteau visited. Both groups had grown their own crystals of lysozyme, prepared in their school laboratory or at CityLab, a fully equipped biotechnology laboratory in the BU School of Medicine that is available to Middle and High School students, educators, and other groups.
Each group learned about the history and theory of X-ray crystallography in the determination of protein structure from Professor Karen Allen, one of the world’s leading crystallographers. After a one-hour classroom discussion, the students brought their crystal samples to the CIC’s X-ray laboratory for a practical demonstration of the experiment with Dr. Bacon. The students examined their crystals under a microscope, and one crystal from each group was mounted on the instrument for a unit cell determination.
Interested students have been invited to the ACA’s annual meeting, to be held in Boston at the end of July, where they will have the opportunity to present a poster and to learn more about structural biology. The program is an outreach activity of the ACA Young Scientists’ Special Interest Group, and was supported by a donation of crystallization supplies from Hampton Research.
Additional photos can be seen on the BU Chemistry Flickr site.
The Boston University Department of Chemistry has received funds from the NSF MRI program to acquire a Circular Dichroism (CD) Spectrometer, which will enhance the research of scientists in several departments encompassing biological and organic chemistry.
In addition to the Principal Investigator, Professor Karen Allen, there are five major users at BU whose research will benefit from this instrument and more than ten other scientists whose research capabilities will be significantly advanced.
The new CD spectrophotometer will be housed in the Chemistry Instrumentation Center (CIC) located in the Boston University Chemistry Department and headed by Dr. Norman Lee, who will manage the acquisition and integration of the new instrument. Dr. Jeffrey Bacon will oversee the instrument’s maintenance, user training, and data collection.
The results of the research that use the CD will be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technology understanding. At the same time that it advances discovery and understanding, the new CD will promote training in the analytical training of physical properties of organic and inorganic molecules at both the graduate and undergraduate levels in Chemistry and Biology Departments and in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program.