Category: Uncategorized

Assistant Professor Aaron Beeler Award a $975k Grant from DARPA

December 13th, 2017 in Uncategorized

Asst. Prof. Aaron BeelerWe are happy to announce that Assistant Professor Aaron Beeler was recently awarded a $975,000 grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) titled “High-Throughput Chemistry Platform (HTCP) for Reaction Screening.” The funding, which will last a year, will help Professor Beeler and his Co-PI’s, Professors Scott Schaus and John Porco of Chemistry and Professor Eric Kolaczyk of Mathematics, develop a proof-of-concept High-Throughput Chemistry Platform (HTCP) capable of interrogating unexplored chemical “reaction space”. The platform will be used to significantly expand the scope and knowledge around known reactions and to discover unknown transformations through reaction discovery.

Congratulations to Dr. Beeler for this exciting Award!


Professor Arturo Vegas Awarded a Two-Year Grant from Combined Therapeutics

December 12th, 2017 in Uncategorized

Dr. Arturo Vegas

Dr. Arturo Vegas

We are happy to announce that Assistant Professor Arturo Vegas was recently awarded a $255,000 grant from Combined Therapeutics. This nontraditional corporate funding, which will last for 2 Years, will help Professor Vegas as he aims to reduce the immunogenicity and alter the tissue tropism of viral-based therapies.

Congratulations to Dr. Vegas for this exciting Award!

Professor John Porco selected as the new Samour Family Professor of Chemistry

December 12th, 2017 in Uncategorized

Prof. John Porco, Samour Family Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Center for Mlecular Discovery

Prof. John Porco, Samour Family Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Center for Molecular Discovery

It with great pleasure that we announce Professor John Porco has just been selected by the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Dean Ann Cudd to be our Samour Family Professor of Chemistry for the 2018 – 2023 term.  This endowed Chaired position in the Boston University Chemistry Department was first established in 2003 by Carlos M. Samour, a scientist and entrepreneur who earned his doctorate in organic chemistry from Boston University in 1950.  Dr. Samour, was a research chemist and Director for the Kendall Company before founding MacroChem Corporation in 1981, a publicly held medical products company where he served as chairman and scientific director.  He was a member of the CAS Dean’s Advisory Council and the GRS Academy of Distinguished Alumni. Professor James Panek was named the first Samour Professor and held that title for the past 15 years.


As per the charter, the Samour Family Professor is “a scholar whose work will advance the stature of the profession and the Department of Chemistry at Boston University.” Professor Porco’s impressive research accomplishments and ongoing scientific efforts to develop synthetic methodologies for efficient chemical synthesis of bio-active molecules, exploit parallel synthesis techniques to create complex chemical libraries and his leadership of collaborative team efforts to realize the medicinal translational impact of these synthetic strategies for improved human health outcomes demonstrate that his work embody all these qualities.  His work, whose impact was also recognized by his receipt of the ACS Arthur C. Cope award in 2009, has resulted in more than 200 publications, over 10,000 citations, and has attracted ~$27M in funding since coming to BU.

Congratulations to Prof. Porco!

Job Opening: Chemical Instrumentation Center Seeks Proteomics Mass Spectrometry Instrumentation Specialist.

July 25th, 2017 in Uncategorized

The Proteomics Mass Spectrometry Instrumentation Specialist in the Chemical Instrumentation Center reports to the Center Director, and works closely with the Center Director and other Instrumentation Specialists, as well as research and instructional faculty and students. The Specialist will hold a Ph.D. in chemistry, biochemistry or related fields, with strong expertise in Proteomics Mass Spectrometry, Chromatography and associated optical characterization techniques, and will focus specifically on mass spectrometry and optical spectroscopy related instructional and research activities. S/He brings one to three years of experience in an instrument lab that provides user training, instrument maintenance, and other support services to a user community, and will apply that experience to meet the research and instructional needs of the Chemistry Department and other CIC users.


For more information and/or to apply, please go the job posting.

Professor Karen Allen Awarded 3 Grants in the 2016/2017 Academic Year

July 5th, 2017 in Uncategorized

Professor Karen Allen

Professor Karen Allen

Professor Allen was awarded 3 grants in the 2016/2017 academic year. One was awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), while two were awarded through the National Institute of Health (NIH), one directly and the other via a subaward agreement with the Scripps Research Institute. The Scripps subaward will study diverse approaches to treating botulism and is titled “Trehalose-6-phosphate phosphatase inhibitors as anti-helminthics” and is a yearlong award. Her NIH Award is a 2 Year Award for that will study phosphatase inhibitors is titled: “Trehalose-6-phosphate phosphatase inhibitors as anti-helminthics.” The NSF Award is a Collaborative Award with Professor Barbara Imperiali of MIT and is titled “Collaborative research: Development of a platform enabling analysis of membrane protein interactions” and also includes 2 Years of research support.

Congratulations to Professors Allen and on her productive year!

Prof. David Coker Awarded $435,000 NSF Grant

June 14th, 2017 in Award, Coker, David, Faculty, Front Page, Grants, Grants & Funding, NSF, Research, Uncategorized

Coker NSF Story DiagramCongratulations to Professor David Coker for receiving a National Science Foundation Grant (NSF) totally $435,000. This project will fund Dr. Coker and his team’s research into two areas. The first project will focus on extending, first principles, excited state quantum chemical methods and conformational sampling techniques to compute the distributions of parameters in models of the biological light harvesting systems that have received much attention in recent ultrafast nonlinear spectroscopy studies. Such models are usually employed to interpret the results of these averaged experiments. These best-fit, average models have many parameters that can be difficult to estimate and they are not generally unique, often leading to ambiguous interpretation. The theoretical methods being developed by the Coker group, however, enable detailed analysis of fluctuations underlying the average and the sampling of an ensemble of unique models that include, for example, highly performing structural outliers whose characteristics will give important understanding for optimal design, rather than mean behavior. In the second project, dissipative quantum dynamical methods are employed to compute spectroscopic properties and study relaxation processes including energy transport and charge separation using the ensembles of computed models. Preliminary work on these projects was featured in a recent publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.[1]


Dr. Coker is a Professor of Theoretical and Physical Chemistry and is the Director for BU’s Center for Computational Science (BU CCS). The Coker Group focus their research the development of new theoretical and computational methods to explore how electronic and vibrational excitation of reactant molecules in different environments can influence the outcome of chemical reactions of these molecules. Because electronic and vibrational relaxation of excited reactants is fundamentally quantum mechanical in nature, the methods they use must accurately describe the transfer of energy between the classical environment and the quantal reactive system.

[1] “First-Principles Models for Biological Light-Harvesting: Phycobiliprotein Complexes from Cryptophyte Algae”, M.K. Lee, K. Bravaya, and D.F. Coker, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2017, 139 (23), pp 7803–7814

Boston Universities Chemistry and Physics Departments welcome one of our newest faculty members, Professor Masha Kamenetska!

June 7th, 2017 in Uncategorized

MASHAWe are happy to welcome Dr. Kamenetska as our newest Assistant Professor who will hold academic appointments in the Boston University Departments of Chemistry and Physics. Her hire resulted from faculty search associated with the Materials Science & Engineering (MSE) Program for a CAS junior faculty member. Masha’s experimental interests focus on single molecule measurements and biophysics and she will develop instrumentation that combines novel multiple optical trapping techniques with optical measurements to study the molecular level details of important biological structure function relationships.

Her academic training in Physics and her molecular level focused research make her an ideal candidate for our interdisciplinary MSE faculty position with joint (50:50) appointments in Chemistry and Physics. Dr. Kamenetska graduated with a B.S. in Physics from MIT and received her Ph.D. with distinction in Applied Physics in 2012 from Columbia University. There she carried out single molecule level conductance and nano manipulation measurements to learn about metal-molecule junctions, which are essential for developing molecular level electronics. While a Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University, Masha built a novel optical tweezer for mechanical force and optical measurements of biological systems. Dr. Kamenetska was awarded the Robert Simon Memorial Prize for best Ph.D. in the Department of Applied Physics, Columbia University in 2012 and was a recipient of an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology.

Dr. Kamenetska’s research interests lie in creating tools to probe physical phenomena at the single molecule level, which is an urgent need across multiple disciplines. In particular, she wants to make headway in tackling human diseases such as cancer because we need to understand how the conformation of individual DNA-protein complexes affects access to genes by transcription machinery. Similarly, she’ll focus on advance energy conversion devices and further miniaturize electronics that are needed to understand how the structure of the molecule-metal junction affects electron transport across the interface. Her goal is to further our understanding of structure and function of chromatin—DNA condensed by proteins, and of metal-molecule devices by developing novel, label-free, multi-probe, single molecule techniques.

Masha is our first joint junior hire, which highlights BU’s strong commitment to interdisciplinary research and training.   Please join us in welcoming Dr. Kamenetska to BU’s Chemistry and Physics Departments starting on July 1st!

Professor Deborah Perlstein is engaging local female rising seniors in STEM Research through the GROW Program.

June 7th, 2017 in Uncategorized

Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 3.02.39 PMUniversity’s Learning Resource Network (LERNet) in collaboration with Prof. Deborah Perlstein in the Department of Chemistry at BU. Based on their interests, GROW participants will be matched with a lab and a graduate student or postdoc research mentor in the department of chemistry, biology, biomedical engineering or mechanical engineering. They will be assigned an independent project aligned with each laboratory’s focus and expertise. Through their internships, participants will be able to experience what it is like to be part of a team actively engaged in cutting edge research. The program curriculum also provides participants with mentoring on the college admissions process and an awareness of career opportunities in STEM fields.


The overall goal of GROW is to stimulate interest in STEM from groups typically underrepresented in the workforce. Since women make up just 29% of the science and engineering workforce, we have chosen to limit enrollment in GROW to high school girls. GROW will draw students from public school in Boston, Cambridge, and surrounding areas. By participating in an authentic research experience, participants develop more accurate perceptions of who scientists are and what they do. Through their close collaboration with their research mentors, participants are also provided with access to role models who can nurture their interests in science and engineering and increase their confidence in their ability to succeed in STEM-related careers.


Professor Ksenia Bravaya Awarded $405,000 3 Year NSF-CTMC Grant to study Metastable Electronic States

June 7th, 2017 in Uncategorized

Professor Ksenia Bravaya, Patricia Mclellan Leavitt Research Fund Awardee

Professor Ksenia Bravaya, Patricia Mclellan Leavitt Research Fund Awardee

Ksenia Bravaya, who has been an Assistant Professor of Computational Quantum Chemistry here at BU since August 2013, was recently awarded a 3-year $405,000 grant from the National Science Foundation‘s Chemical Theory, Models and Computational Methods (CTMC) division to pursue her research into Metastable Electronic States.

Specifically, electron-molecule interactions often lead to complex chemistry initiated by electron capture into a temporary state that has enough energy to eject an electron, yet, lives long enough to trigger a chemical reaction. The lifetime of a metastable state, therefore, sets the timescale for the chemical conversion. Metastable electronic states are key intermediates in radiation damage of biomolecules and electron-attachment-induced chemistry in general; they are also routinely formed in highly energetic environments, e.g. plasmas. This research program will develop new models enabling quantitative predictions of the energies and lifetimes of metastable electronic states. The computational studies are aimed at advancing the understanding of the role of metastable states in radiation damage of biological systems, in photovoltaics, and catalysis.

For more information on what Professor Bravaya and her Research Group are up to click here.

Congratulations to Professor Bravaya!

BUnano Symposium sheds light on innovations in imaging

June 2nd, 2017 in Award, Faculty, Graduate, Grants & Funding, Grinstaff, Mark, Recognition, Research, Students, Uncategorized, Undergraduate

Bunano Symposium

On May 2 BU Nanotechnology Innovation Center (BUnano) held its inaugural symposium “Nanotechnology for Imaging”. The symposium focused on The “Nanotechnology For Imaging” symposium will be focused on highlighting accomplishments of BUnano faculty and students, and featured keynote presentation by 2014 Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry, Professor Stefan Hell.


BUnano Center Director Prof. Mark Grinstaff welcomed the audience in the packed Metcalf Trustee Ballroom. and presented BUnano’s mission to promote a vibrant and dynamic community for nano-related disciplines at BU. What distinguishes BUnano from other nano centers in the Boston area is its connection to the Boston Medical Center and the BUSM.  BUnano offers pilot grants to foster and support collaborative research of BU faculty across campuses in their pursuit of finding nano solutions to real life problems in technology and medicine.


The morning session featured a lineup of talks by BUnano faculty. Dr. Luca Dal Negro opened the scientific portion of the symposium with his talk on “Materials and Fields @ the Nanoscale: Optical Engineering of Resonant Nanostructures,” followed by Dr. Allison Dennis’s talk  “Cadmium-free Quantum Dots for Imaging in the Visible and Near Infrared” and the joint presentation by Drs. Joyce Wong and Victoria Herrera entitled “Janus Nanoparticles for Cancer Theranostics.” Dr. Luca Dal Negro is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Physics at BU. He introduced his group’s research related to the development of novel plasmonic materials and nanostructures for spectroscopy. Dr. Allison Dennis, Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor, discussed how her group uses cadmium-free Quantum Dot chemistries for applications in fluorescent biosensing and improved biomedical imaging. Dr. Joyce Wang, a Professor in Biomedical Engineering and Professor of Medicine Dr. Victoria Herrera discussed their interdisciplinary collaboration on developing theranostic Janus USPION for enhanced MRI imaging and targeted nucleic acid therapy to treat non-druggable cases, especially in pancreatic cancer.


After lunch break, Dr. Selim Unlu, a BUnano affiliated faculty and professor of Electrical Engineering introduced the keynote speaker of the symposium, Prof. Stefan Hell. He is the current Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany. In 2014 Prof Hell was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pioneering work in the field of ultra high resolution fluorescence microscopy. Stefan Hell succeeded in radically overcoming the resolution limit of conventional optical microscopes – a breakthrough that has enabled new ground‐breaking discoveries in biological and medical research.


Prof. Hell’s exciting talk on flurorescence nanoscopy featured his recent research on how to neutralize diffraction in order to achieve imaging of cells and tissues at the nanoscale. For close to an hour, Prof Hell held the audience’s attention captive, transforming them to the realm of STED microscopy infecting them with the possibility of capturing images of the nanoworld.


Twenty students and postdoctoral fellows were selected to present their posters at the symposium. Ms Qianyun Zhang, a student in Dr. Bjoern Rheinhard’s Lab, received $500 for her poster “Illuminating EGFR clustering and its Effects on Signal.”


The symposium concluded with BUnano’s version of the popular show Shark Tank, “Terrier Tank.” The competition was moderated by Dr. Ahmad Khalil, Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor at BU. Five finalists presented their innovative translational research idea to a panel of judges. The panel included BUnano Entrepreneur-in-Residence Dr. Jill Becker (CEO and Founder of 02139 Inc), Dr. David Coleman, Chair of the Department of Medicine at BUSM, Peter Marton of BU’s Questrom School of Business and Buzz Lab, Jess McLear of Launchpad Venture Group, and  Dr. Terry Russell, Managing Director of Interface Ventures. It was truly exciting to see undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral associates striving to take a nascent idea and translate into a marketable product which would provide tangible benefit to our society.


After careful consideration, the judges awarded the $10,000 prize to CatchAu – an environmentally conscious wastewater treatment idea by a team of graduate students, Mingfu Chen, Uros Kuzmanovic, and Nicolas Shu.


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