Category: Uncategorized

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.


Tagged ,

Dr. Sean Elliott Receives 4 Year National Institute of Health Grant to study “Structure, Function and Diversity in the Bacterial Cytochrome c Peroxidase Family”

January 10th, 2017 in Award, Elliott, Sean, Grants, Grants & Funding, NIH, Research, Uncategorized










Dr. Sean Elliott was recently awarded 4 years of support from the National Institute of Health (NIH) for his research into bCCPs.

The new grant will enable studies in the Elliott Group to dissect the way in which nature has made use of a common motif of bioinorganic chemistry, the iron-bearing structure known as a c-type heme, and to utilize it for diverse chemistry. While Elliott has a long-running interest in heme and redox chemistry, here the group studies the titular ‘bacterial cytochrome c peroxidase’ (or, bCCP) family of enzymes. While prototypical bCCPs are found in gram negative microorganisms where they detoxify endogenous or exogenous hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), the Elliott group has realized that there exist in microbes novel bCCPs which engage in unknown chemistry. In the work sponsored by the NIH, the Elliott group will use a combination of biochemistry, electrochemistry, spectroscopy and structural biology to elucidate the bCCPs found in under appreciated microbes, and attempt to rationalize why the enzymes work as they do.

The work to be supported is a team effort where the enzymes discovered and produced in the Elliott Group will be examined here at BU, but also in collaboration with structural biologists at MIT and spectroscopists at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Michigan.

As bCCPs are enzymes on the front-line of the native defenses of NIH Select List pathogens including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Burkholderia complex species, Vibrio cholerae, Campylobacter jejuni, and Yersinia pestis, these studies will provide fundamental insight into the long-term development of new antimicrobial compounds that will target the novel features of bCCP structure.”

Dr. Elliott, who is also a two time recipient of the Scialog® Award Research Corporation (2010-2011), and received the 2007 Gitner Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2007 and an NSF CAREER Award in 2005 (among other honors), works with the Elliott Research Group to investigate the interplay between biological systems and redox-active species (e.g., metal ions, organic radicals, disulfide bonds, reactive oxygen species). Their emphasis is on the kinetic and thermodynamic basis for catalytic redox chemistry, as well as the molecular basis of how nature tune redox cofactors do the hard work of Life.

Professors Snyder and Abrams collaborate with colleagues in Biology and Neuroscience to create novel, interdisciplinary courses: Integrated Science Experience 1 & 2

January 5th, 2017 in Abrams, Binyomin, Department, Faculty, Grants, Snyder, John, Teaching, Uncategorized, Undergraduate


Curcumin Compound



Interdisciplinary, Integrated Course Ideas Receive Provost Grants

Chemistry faculty, John Snyder and Binyomin Abrams, in conjunction with colleagues in the Departments of Biology (Kathryn Spilios and John “Chip” Celenza) and Neuroscience (Paul Lipton and Lucia Pastorino) have successfully proposed ideas to develop integrated, inquiry-based laboratory courses for first and second year biology, chemistry, and neuroscience students.   Jointly funded by the Office of the Provost, the Center Teaching & Learning, and the College of Arts and Sciences, these interdisciplinary course development grants aim to promote faculty and student collaboration across disciplines in support of innovative, research-oriented undergraduate laboratory education.   The new courses that are being developed, Integrated Science Experience 1 (ISE 1, for second semester freshmen) and ISE 2 (for first semester sophomores) will facilitate students making connections across biology, chemistry, and neuroscience early in their undergraduate careers. Such interdisciplinary insights will better prepare for advanced courses and undergraduate research. Developed in 2015 and 2016, ISE 1 and ISE 2 were piloted in the Spring and Fall 2016 terms, respectively.

Interdisciplinary Science Experience 1

The first-semester ISE1 course was piloted in the Spring 2016 semester. Forty students with majors ranging from biology to philosophy engaged in a semester-long study focused around characterizing the kinetics of tyrosinase-catalyzed production of L-Dopa and screening of small-molecule inhibitors. The labs integrated teaching on the basics of instrumentation, lab practices/skills, research practices in STEM, working with scientific literature, and writing in the sciences, while synthesizing information related to chemistry, biology, and neuroscience.

Interdisciplinary Science Experience 2

A pilot of this first semester, sophomore program began this fall semester (2016) supported by Boston University. In this program, eleven students enrolled in Organic Chemistry 1 (CH 203), and Cell Biology (BI 203 or 213) or Neuroscience I (NE 203) work on a specific project that combines labs in both Organic Chemistry and Cell Biology, with an emphasis on Neuroscience, modeling a drug discovery effort for Alzheimer’s disease. This project, which was organized as a graduate level research group would be, with weekly group meetings replacing pre-lab lectures, focused on the isolation of curcumin from turmeric, and the synthesis of specific analogues in the organic chemistry lab, with parallel biological experiments probing the activities of these compounds as relates to Alzheimer’s dementia. Curcumin has a well-validated biological activities to launch the biology lab. The analogues prepared in the organic lab were selected for their practicality of preparation at the sophomore level, as well as to probe specific structural features of curcumin that might be responsible for the activity. In addition, the procedures in both labs were designed as an educational vehicle that would greatly enhance the lectures in Organic Chemistry 1, Cell Biology, and Neuroscience. This pilot program culminated with students designing their own capstone projects in both the chemistry and biology labs.

Professor Snyder said “The results from our first year experience have been even better than expected. New analogues of curcumin have been prepared, and the biological effects of these analogues have never been reported before. We are now seeking funding from the AAU to expand this pilot project with a second, research oriented project centered around capsaicin, the ‘hot’ ingredient of habanero which has also been implicated as having beneficial neurological effects.”

Tagged , , , , ,

Beeler Group Play Me, I’m Yours Chemistry Piano featured in “Caught in Southie”

September 26th, 2016 in Uncategorized


Aaron Beeler, a Professor of Chemistry at Boston University, got the idea to apply for a piano after the 2013 series dropped a piano in front of his office window at BU. “I was so intrigued how it brought people together, and there was someone always playing it,” explains Beeler. “And my wife is a musician, so I have some appreciation for musical arts, so when it was announced that applications were being accepted for the 2016 series, I thought how great it would be to have a piano that represents the scientific community of Boston, that we could appreciate how much of a part of the city the sciences are,” he said.

Beeler took his idea one step forward and engaged his graduate students in the project, who in turn took the project social. “Nearly all chemists have a favorite molecule, so my students Alexis Young and Gabrielle Fleming really ran with that idea and created some great buzz by asking people what their favorite molecule was and why. We got a lot of responses from scientists and non-scientists alike,” he explained. 

“Then we all painted the molecules and the information onto the piano. (We were not allowed to indicate people’s names or affiliations on the piano). We hope that this will be a great exhibition of the beauty of science and also help show people how important chemistry is in nearly all aspects of life,” Beeler said.

From September 23 – October 10, 2016, Street Pianos Boston will feature sixty pianos, decorated by these artists and placed in public outdoor spaces in every Boston neighborhood and select Cambridge locations for the public to play and enjoy.  Each piano will feature a simple invitation: “Play Me, I’m Yours.”   Beeler and his students’ piano will be on display at the Museum of Science.

Check out the article here!