Tagged: American Crystallographic Association

High School Students Learn About X-Ray Crystallography

June 5th, 2012 in Allen, Karen, CIC, Front Page, Outreach, Staff

Dr. Jeff Bacon

Dr. Jeff Bacon

Professor Karen Allen

Professor Karen Allen

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.

Prof. Allen lectures on the basics of X-ray crystallography

Prof. Karen Allen lectures on the basics of X-ray crystallography

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.

Students are shown the X-ray instrument by Dr. Jeff Bacon

Students are shown the X-ray instrument by Dr. Jeff Bacon

Students who visited along with their teacher Aaron Mathieu (far right), Dr. Bacon and Prof. Allen.

Students who visited along with their teacher Aaron Mathieu (far right), Dr. Bacon and Prof. Allen.

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