Professor Karen Allen‘s work with Dr. Barbara Imperiali of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and their research groups work on the 2.7-Å-resolution crystal structure of a phosphoglycosyl transferase called PglC were featured in C&EN Structural Biology on May 23rd, 2018.
As Co-PI on a National Institute of Health grant, Dr. Allen and Dr. Imperiali’s work on PglC has allowed them to uncover the enzyme’s unique mechanism, which permits hydrophilic and hydrophobic molecules to interact without ever having to leave their natural environments.
On September 22, 2017, the Division of Materials Science & Engineering hosted the first Schlumberger Annual Materials Science Lecture. The featured speaker, Dr. Hongjie Dai, Stanford University, presented a lecture on Carbon Based Nanosciences.
Dr. Hongjie Dai has made fundamental contributions to nanosciences especially to novel carbon-based nanomaterials. Dr. Dai developed widely adopted chemical vapor deposition for carbon nanotubes; invented the first electrical nanosensors using nanotube transistors; pushed nanotube transistors to the ballistic limit; pioneered nano-carbon biological applications for novel imaging and therapy; and invented new electrocatalysts and the aluminum-ion battery.
Professor David Bishop, Head of the Division of Materials Science & Engineering gave a brief welcome to everyone.
Professor Lawrence Ziegler, organizer and faculty host of the lecture, and Associate Head of the Division of Materials Science & Engineering and Chair of the Chemistry Department introduced the speakers.
Dr. Meng Qu, Senior Research Scientist at Schlumberger-Doll Research gave an introductory talk on how her team develops materials for oil and gas applications such as plug and abandonment (P&A) and drill bit. She discussed how her team focuses on understanding the fundamental science of each material, and applies this knowledge to guide material design and development.
Dr. Hongjie Dai, Professor at Stanford University, first briefly reviewed his earlier work on carbon nanomaterials including carbon nanotubes and graphene nanoribbons, and fluorescence and fluorescence imaging in the previously unexplored 1000-1700 nmNIR-II window to benefit from greatly suppressed photon scattering at long wavelengths.
The second part of the talk focused on Dr. Dai’s work on advancing new types of electrocatalysts for renewable catalyst applications and the development of novel batteries. He talked about achieving record setting performance of electrocatalysts for water splitting including HER and OER. He showed how his lab has developed a novel Ni/NiO heterostructured hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) catalyst and a NiFe layered double hydroxide (NiFe LDH) oxygen evolution reaction (OER) catalyst to enable water splitting using a record low voltage of < 1.5 volt, making it possible to make an electrolyzer for hydrogen and oxygen gas generation running on a single AAA alkaline battery cell.
The talk was followed by a wine & cheese reception in the Photonics 9th floor atrium.
Read more about Dr. Dai’s research here.
On Friday, May 4th, 2018 the work of 22 students was spotlighted in this year’s Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS). The high-caliber projects presented underscored the importance of the hands-on, challenging research that is the hallmark of Boston University’s Chemistry major. The even was organized by the Undergraduate Programs Committee, Professor John Snyder and coordinated by our Undergraduate Program Coordinator, Julia Jesielowski.
URS was first instituted in 1987 by then Director of Undergraduate Studies, and now Emeritus, Prof. Mort Hoffman, and has been a much anticipated, spring’s-end annual event ever since. The Symposium is modeled along the lines of talks at an American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting: 12 minutes of presentation followed by 3 minutes of questions and discussion. Capping the day was the announcement of the Departmental Awards, followed by a celebratory pizza party for the students, their faculty advisers, graduate mentors, and their guests.
Masha Kamenetska, who holds joint academic appointments of Assistant Professor in Chemistry and Physics and is a member of Boston University’s Materials Science & Engineering Division, was recently awarded the Patricia Mclellan Leavitt Research Fund. This award is designed “to support research of one or more non-tenured junior faculty members, or graduate students, in chemistry or biology at the College of Arts and Sciences. Preference shall be given to female faculty who demonstrate a commitment to encouraging women to study science, or to female graduate students.”
Dr. Kamenetska will use these funds to support her research on the mechanism of gene regulation by nucleosomes. Nucleosomes are the basic unit of chromatin which package DNA inside the nucleus by winding 147 base-pairs around a core of eight histone proteins. They also regulate gene expression by impeding access to the genetic code by transcription machinery. Using single molecule nanomanipulation and spectroscopy techniques, Dr. Kamenetska can probe molecular level structure of biological complexes such as nucleosomes to understand their function. With this award Dr. Kamenetska plans to fund graduate and undergraduate students to develop an optical tweezer instrument which measures force-dependent unwinding of individual nucleosome particles while tracking their position along the DNA. In addition to supporting her lab at this critical early point in her career, this award will also benefit the undergraduate women who will work on this projects during the summer and fall.
Her unique research focus at the nexus of biology, chemistry and physics, and her commitment to encouraging women to participate in science, make her an ideal recipient for this junior faculty award. Congratulations Dr. Kamenetska!
On April 30th, 2018 Dr. Eric Jacobsen, Sheldon Emery Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University, presented The 2018 Lambert Lecture, speaking on New Modes of Anion-Binding Catalysis.
His work is focused on low molecular weight, chiral organic molecules possessing distinct hydrogen-bond donor motifs, which have been shown to catalyze an array of C–C and C–heteroatom bond-forming reactions with high enantioselectivity and broad substrate scope. In particular, dual hydrogen bond donors such as ureas, thioureas, squaramides, and guanidinium ions have been studied in detail in the context of electrophile activation. These catalysts operate by either of two, fundamentally different modes of electrophile activation: 1) direct hydrogen bonding to a neutral electrophile, and 2) anion binding to generate chiral ion pair. We have applied the latter reactivity concept to several classes of cationic electrophiles that have presented long-standing challenges to asymmetric catalysis.
In this lecture, Professor Jacobsen described his detailed kinetic and mechanistic studies of catalytic anion-abstraction processes. He discussed how these investigations have revealed unexpected cooperative mechanisms, and new strategies for the design of highly efficient catalysts for a wide range of nucleophilic substitution reactions including enantioselective SN1 pathways and stereospecific glycosylation reactions.
The Lambert Lecture is supported by an endowment established by alumnus Benjamin Lambert, who earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Boston University (CAS ’55). After graduating from law school, he went on to pursue a distinguished career as a patent attorney with such major pharmaceutical companies as Merck and Johnson & Johnson. Each year, the Lambert Lecture addresses different topics in chemistry, the field of Lambert’s undergraduate and graduate studies, and features some of the most distinguished and creative scientists working in the field today.
Professor Bjoern Reinhard awarded an NSF-CHE 3 Year grant to Study Plasmon Coupling Correlation Spectroscopy
Prof. Reinhard was recently awarded a 3 Year renewal of her National Science Foundation Division of Chemistry (NSF-CHE) Grant titled: Plasmon Coupling Correlation Spectroscopy. This will help Prof. Reinhard and his research group investigate the unique optical properties and strong field localization properties of plasmonic nanoparticles as they are important components of many chemical sensing technologies and Efield enhanced spectroscopies. The research will advance the field of chemical imaging and sensing by introducing the concept of correlation spectroscopy to localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) spectroscopy. The ambitious research plan will utilize distance-dependent near-field coupling between plasmonic nanoparticles that cause spectral fluctuations in the far-field to monitor interparticle separations at signal intensities that are manifold higher than that of conventional dyes. Importantly, due to their superb photophysical stability plasmonic nanoparticles overcome existing limitations of fluorescence based correlation approaches in terms of maximum observation time and will facilitate a continuous signal correlation over a much longer time than is currently possible with fluorescence based approaches entirely without blinking. The research funded by this grant is transformative as it will facilitate the application of optical signal correlation techniques to systems that have, so far, not been accessible with conventional fluorescence-based correlation methods.
Besides the scientific impact, the research project has a series of educational and outreach components as well as detailed plans to encourage the participation of underrepresented groups in science and engineering. The grant will allow for the development of new course work and training opportunities for students from the high-school to graduate school level. Furthermore, Dr. Reinhard will organize annual workshops for students from inner city high schools, which typically have high representations from groups underrepresented in science and engineering. His main goal is to enthuse these students about the research of the proposal and to attract them to a career in STEM fields. The course material developed during the lifetime of the project will be disseminated via the PI’s homepage to further enhance the broader impact of this proposal.
Prof. Doerrer was recently awarded a 3 Year renewal of her National Science Foundation Division of Chemistry (NSF-CHE) Grant titled: Oxidation Catalysis with 3d Complexes Bearing Fluorinated Alkoxide Ligands. This will help Prof. Doerrer and her research group continue their investigation into oxidation catalysis. The project will focus on developing more effective and sustainable catalytic reactions for chemical synthesis, which is critical for the 21st century. Oxidation of C-H bonds remains a central component of chemical transformations with many remaining challenges. This work builds on her recent success with Cu/O2 chemistry that has demonstrated the effectiveness of fluorinated alkoxide ligands to make highly reactive species for oxidizing C-H bonds. Recently her group has demonstrated catalysis with two different systems, and one reaction that differentiates the two systems. Understanding this difference, extending this success to other earth-abundant metals and potentially to water as a reaction medium are the targets of this award. Proven synthetic and characterization methods will be used, augmented by new ideas and some recent discoveries that hint at new and improved conditions for these needed chemical reactions.
Stephanie Beach, of the Doerrer Group, recently won a prestigious Chateaubriand Fellowship! The Chateaubriand Fellowship is a grant offered by the Embassy of France in the United States. It supports outstanding Ph.D. students from American universities who wish to conduct research in France for a period ranging from 4 to 9 months. Chateaubriand fellows are selected through a merit-based competition, through a collaborative process involving expert evaluators in both countries.
The program is divided into two subprograms: Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) which supports those who seek to study Humanities and Social Sciences. Stephanie was awarded the Chateaubriand Fellowship in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics & Biology-Health (STEM), which is for doctoral students who aim to initiate or reinforce collaborations, partnerships or joint projects between French and American research teams. This fellowship is offered by the Office for Science & Technology (OST) of the Embassy of France in partnership with American universities and French research organizations such as Inserm and Inria. It is a partner of the National Science Foundation’s GROW program.
Stephanie is currently working at the Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal, a CNRS lab, in Bordeaux, France from February through May of 2018 to partner with the group of Prof. Rodolphe Clérac. She is developing new variations of the Doerrer group thiocarboxylate lantern complexes for development as single molecule magnets.
Research at Boston University’s Photonics Center reporting on a drug-free photonic approach to eliminating methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) earned Pu-Ting Dong (BU Chemistry Student, Dr. Ji-Xen Cheng Group) the SPIE Photonics West 2018 Translational Research Award.
Translational Research Symposium Chairs Bruce J. Tromberg of the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Center at the University of California, Irvine (USA) and Gabriela Apiou, from the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (USA) presented the award to Dong Sunday, February 4th during a forum that focused on translational research applications of blue light.
Dong’s research found a synergy between photobleaching of staphyloxanthin (STX) with blue light and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in killing the highly infectious and dangerous MRSA.
“This potentially opens a new way to address a tremendous problem that the healthcare system is facing using a biophotonic technology,” Apiou said.
As Dong noted, it can take 30 years after the emergence of antibiotic resistance for a new antibiotic to be developed.
Treating MRSA is “a significant problem in infectious disease,” Tromberg, an SPIE Fellow, said, and Dong’s solution “could benefit a large number of patients worldwide.”
In a talk preceding Dong’s presentation, SPIE Fellow Michael Hamblin of the Wellman Center, explained how blue light has been found to influence circadian rhythms and magnetic fields and has become a common treatment for treating acne, low-back pain, neurological disorders, and other diseases and disorders.
Hamblin noted that a new conference at Photonics West, Photonic Diagnosis and Treatment of Infection and Inflammatory Diseases, and its 60 papers, indicated the importance of light technologies in treating a number of diseases.
We 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!