BU Chemistry is pleased to announce a three-year renewal of funding for our NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program. This summer program, hosted by the Chemistry Department, provides students from primarily undergraduate institutions with opportunities to work in advanced research laboratories. Of the 33 students who participated in the program over the past three years, 91% came from underrepresented minority groups, better than 60% were women, and almost 45% came from community colleges. Many of them co-authored peer-reviewed publications, presented their findings at conferences, and/or decided to attend graduate school, including BU. Another measure of the program’s success is its ever-expanding pool of applicants, with over 600 applications received for the summer 2018 program alone.
Chemistry would like to give special recognition to the efforts of Professors Linda Doerrer, Principal Investigator (PI), and ,John Snyder, co-PI, and Chemistry Departments Proposal Development Administrator Daniel Hauck, whose hard work and commitment to the program made this renewal possible.
Due to a change in the National Science Foundation’s funding periods, the Chemistry Department will not be hosting REU students for the Summer of 2019. The program will be active again in the Summer 2020. For more information, including the application process, visit the BU Chemistry REU.
We were pleased to announce the Department of Chemistry student award winners for the 2017-2018 academic year at the Orientation BBQ. For those who may have missed it, here are the award winners.
Sugata Ray Memorial Award for International Students: Nathchar Naowarojna (Liu Lab)
This award was established by the Ray family in memory of their son, Sugata Ray, a former graduate student in the Chemistry Department, to recognize an international Ph.D. candidate each year who excels in his or her graduate studies. Research, academic performance, teaching, and service contributions to the Department are all considered in selection of the awardee.
Professor Liu writes, "Can has demonstrated her potential to thrive in the academic environment and greatly contribute to the field of natural product biosynthesis and enzymology. Her skills and knowledge in research, and dedication to mentorship make her an exceptionally qualified nominee.” She has authored or contributed to an impressive number of publications, and demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to undergraduate mentoring through her teaching assignments and undergraduate research supervising.
Lichtin Award for Research: David Stelter (Keyes)
This award was established in honor of Norman Lichtin, a distinguished research scientist and former Chair of the Chemistry Department. The award recognizes students that are distinguished by their exceptional contributions to chemical research in their doctoral studies.
Professor Keyes writes, “David is a wonderful student, one of my best ever. Despite having to teach almost full time he has achieved significant research results, and never lost his enthusiasm, while also being a joy to have as a TF.” David is first author on two papers, contributed to two more, and has a large body of results to write up and exciting work in progress.
Feldman Award: Lindsey Walker (Elliott Lab)
The Feldman Fund was established by the Feldman family to memorialize Julius Feldman, who served for many years as Associate Chairman of the Chemistry Department and who took a special interest in the welfare of graduate students. The Feldman Award recognizes outstanding accomplishments in research, teaching or service.
Lindsey is a fifth year student in the Elliott Lab who has not only made significant and impressive research contributions but is a great communicator of science, and stands out as an excellent leader.
Professor Elliott writes, “Lindsey is a sharp, devoted, creative and highly driven student, who is well on her way to being a successful scientific leader. She is a talented researcher who is motivated by a concern for the environment, and a desire to use electrochemistry as a functional tool to improve society. She is a wonderful student, and I am very lucky to have her in my lab.”
Departmental Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Research: Lauren Viarengo (Whitty Lab)
Professor Whitty writes, "Lauren has a strong intellect and is exceptionally diligent and conscientious in everything she does. Lauren is also highly sought after as a Teaching Fellow, being very conscientious and having excellent interpersonal and communication skills. But what really sets her apart is her fearlessness in taking on new research challenges, and her exceptional drive. I believe she serves as an example of everything we look for in our very best graduate students, and is an ideal candidate for a graduate student award to recognize her extraordinary capabilities and efforts."
Congratulations to all of our award winners!
As they finished out the sixth and final week of the 2018 GROW (Greater Boston Research Opportunities for Young Women) program, the 12 summer interns present their capstone to the six weeks of research conducted during a Poster Session held on Friday, August 10th in the Science Metcalf Building Lounge located on the first floor from 2:00 – 4:00 PM.
LERNet was created in 1998 to provide programming for K-12 students interested in pursuing the STEM fields and to encourage teacher development. In recent years, Brossman says, she has become more focused on young women, because they face a gender imbalance in STEM fields. The GROW program came into being this year after Deborah Perlstein, a CAS assistant professor of chemistry, came to Brossman looking for ways to broaden the impact of a research project so that it would satisfy a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant requirement. After her project was funded for one student, they decided to go further.
“For young women interested in careers in math and science, it’s really important for them to have an opportunity to get in lab and see what that’s like,” says Perlstein. “It’s also important for them to have the opportunity to see some (female) role models. That was important to me in choosing my career path.
”Brossman and Perlstein put together a program with funding from sources including Vertex, Pfizer, and other companies; LERNet; the chemistry and biology departments; CAS; BU’s ARROWS (Advance, Recruit, Retain & Organize Women in STEM); and existing NSF grants, all adding up to about $30,000. Despite a late posting of the application, in April, some 60 rising juniors and seniors from Greater Boston high schools applied. A dozen students were placed in BU chemistry and biology labs and assigned research projects and graduate student or post-doc mentors.
“I wanted to create an accessible program for local students who may not be able to afford some of the existing programs or who needed to work during the summer,” Brossman says. “We wanted to give the students a stipend so we could eliminate any financial barriers to participation.”
Here are some photos from this years Poster Session:
Dr. Morton Z. Hoffman is the 2018 recipient of The Zaida C. Morales Martinez Prize for Outstanding Mentoring of ACS Scholars
Dr. Morton Z. Hoffman, Professor Emeritus in the Chemistry Department of Boston University, is this years recipient of The Zaida C. Morales Martinez Prize for Outstanding Mentoring of ACS Scholars. This prize was initiated by Dr. Robert L. Lichter and his wife Diane Scott Lichter with a grant from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. The annual $1,000 prize recognizes individuals who have done an exemplary job in mentoring students in the ACS Scholars Program. It is named in honor of Ms. Morales-Martinez, the mentoring consultant for the ACS Scholars Program, who was instrumental in the establishment of the Scholars Program and other initiatives to address the need to increase the presence and participation of underrepresented minorities in chemical science.
A native of New York City, Mort Hoffman attended Hunter College and received a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Michigan. He spent a year as a postdoctoral research associate at Sheffield University in England before joining the chemistry faculty of Boston University in 1961. His research focused on the photophysics and photochemistry of transition-metal coordination compounds, with an emphasis on the fast kinetics of excited-state electron-transfer and ligand-labilization processes. Supported over the years by NIH, NSF, DOE and DOD, his research expanded to the conversion and storage of solar energy and the use of nanosecond pulsed-laser techniques to probe excited-state behavior. He also collaborated with faculty, senior scholars, and scientists from Italy, France, Germany, Greece, England, Israel, and Japan. He has authored over 200 articles and book chapters, of which undergraduates serve as coauthors on 23 and graduate students on 37.
Over the course of Dr. Hoffman’s career, 40 students have worked with him as a mentor and coach, and 20 ACS Scholars developed mentoring relationships with him. Many of these students have transitioned into industry, health care, law, and education careers since then. Dr. Hoffman taught a number of undergraduate and graduate courses, including general, physical and analytical chemistry, chemical kinetics, photochemistry, and radiation chemistry. Remembered by tens of thousands of students for his theatrical lecturing style, dramatic chemical demonstrations, innovative pedagogies, and outrageous jokes and puns, he was honored in 1994 with the Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Boston University, the Catalyst Award for Teaching Excellence from the American Chemistry Council in 2002, the John A. Timm Award for Encouraging Young People to Study Chemistry from the New England Association of Chemistry Teachers (NEACT) in 2003, and the James Flack Norris Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Teaching of Chemistry from the Northeastern Section of the ACS (NESACS) in 2005. He received the ACS Volunteer Service Award in 2007 and the Distinguished Contribution to Chemistry Education Award from IUPAC in 2014. He was named a Fellow of AAAS in 1992, a Fellow of ACS in 2009, and a Fellow of IUPAC in 2014.
Since his retirement in 2005, he has continued work with B.U. International Programs in the development and maintenance of science study-abroad programs in Dresden (Germany), Grenoble (France), and Madrid (Spain).
Dr. Hoffman has been very active at the local, regional, and national levels of ACS. He served as Chair of NESACS in 2002, Chair of CHED in 2005, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Northeast Region, Inc. He represents NESACS on ACS Council, was a member of SOCED and the Senior Chemists Committee, and is currently on the International Activities Committee. Internationally, he was appointed by the National Academy of Sciences to serve as the U.S. National Representative to the Committee on Chemistry Education of IUPAC. He has served as Treasurer of the Malta Conferences Foundation since its incorporation in 2011 as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
For information on contributing to this award or to become a mentor in the ACS Scholars Program, call 202-872-6250 or 1-800-227-5558, ext. 6250, or email email@example.com.
Professor Rosina Georgiadis and Master Lecturer Binyomin Abrams co-chaired a full day symposium entitled “Teaching Transferable Skills in the Chemistry Laboratory Curriculum: Real Research, Real Training” on August 1, 2018 at the 25th Biennial Conference on Chemical Education (BCCE2018), hosted by the University of Notre Dame.
The morning session showcased the work of two former BU Chemistry Postdoctoral Faculty Fellows (PFFs) now known as Postdoctoral Associates/Lecturers (PAL's) John Miecznikowski (Fairfield University) and Matthew Worden (UT Austin). Also speaking in the morning was our Biochemistry Lecturer Dr. Didem Vardar-Ulu, who was recently awarded a Blended Learning Challenge Fellowship. Dr. Vardar-Ulu spoke on ”Ensuring a successful transition from being a chemistry student to a professional chemist: Redesigning an introductory biochemistry laboratory curriculum for chemistry majors with a guided focus on transferable skills.” Professor Rosina Georgiadis, who was most recently awarded a BU Faculty Fellowship in 2016, and current PFF Kristina Streu ended the morning session with back-to-back talks on new cloud-enabled training for teaching analytical instrumental laboratory skills. Their talks were entitled: “Virtual machines: A new way to teach transferable skills in the advanced undergraduate laboratory” and “Teaching instrumentation with virtual machines: Case study and demonstration.”
The afternoon session showcased the Chemistry department’s CH111/CH112 writing program in a talk by Dr. Abrams entitled “Stop writing/teaching lab reports: integrating authentic research-based writing into quantitative analysis courses”. Dr. Abrams also presented a paper in the symposium titled “How Do We Know That?” and Dr. Vardar-Ulu gave a talk "Can blended instruction provide a customized biochemistry teaching laboratory experience?” in a symposium focused on biochemistry laboratory instruction.
New approaches to undergraduate lab classes
Professors Snyder and Abrams collaborate with colleagues in Biology and Neuroscience to create novel, interdisciplinary courses: Integrated Science Experience 1 & 2
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."
Dr. Arturo Vegas is a 2016 Peter Paul Career Development Professorship Recipient
Boston University’s Chemistry Department is proud to announce that Professor Arturo Vegas has been selected as one of this year’s three recipients of the 2016-2017 Peter Paul Career Development Professorships at Boston University.
The awards highlight the caliber, potential, and continued vitality of Boston University’s diverse faculty and include a three-year, non-renewable stipend designed to support scholarly or creative work, as well as a portion of the recipients’ salaries. Peter Paul Career Development Professorships are awarded University-wide.
This year’s Career Development Professorship recipients have all been cited for their extraordinary accomplishments in their areas of study, their passion for the creation and transmission of knowledge, their efforts to enhance the student experience, and, most importantly, for their potential to develop into outstanding faculty members, this prestigious award is intended to help young faculty launch their promising careers by providing partial support for three years of the recipient’s research activities. The significance of Arturo’s efforts “to develop novel chemical tools, materials, and approaches for targeting therapeutics to diseased tissues, with an emphasis on cancer and diabetes” and his potential to develop into an outstanding faculty member at BU are recognized by the receipt of this award.
For more information about Arturo and his research check out his Faculty Page
Congratulations to Dr. Vegas!
Boston University's Chemistry Department is proud to announce that Professor John Straub has been selected as this year’s recipient of the United Methodist Church Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award! This award is given each year to a Boston University faculty member in recognition of their record of ongoing, outstanding research and scholarship, and excellence as a teacher. This is one of the highest honors Boston University bestows to one of its faculty members.
Professor Straub's research explores protein dynamics and thermodynamics using theoretical and computational methods, with a particular focus on elucidating pathways for conformational change associated with protein energy transfer, signaling, folding, and aggregation. He also works with the Pinhead Institute, a Smithsonian Affiliate based in Telluride, Colorado that strives to promote science-education both locally & globally. The Pinhead Institute educates and inspires children and adults in the greater Telluride region about the wonders of science and technology.
Congratulations to Professor Straub on receiving this much deserved award.
Dr. Perlstein, who has been with Boston University’s Chemistry Department since 2010, was recently awarded a 5-Year early investigator award through the NSF CAREER grant program.The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. Such activities should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.
Dr. Perlstein's research focuses on how metals are mobilized and monitored within the cell so that they get to where they need to go and do not end up in places they shouldn’t. With this new five-year grant, Dr. Perlstein plans to unravel the molecular mechanism by which iron-sulfur cluster cofactors are assembled in the cytosol of eukaryotic organisms. Since inhibition of this first step in cluster biosynthesis can lead to defects in DNA replication, DNA repair and protein synthesis, she expects this work will provide new insight into how cluster biogenesis affects these other fundamental biochemical pathways.
With the CAREER award, Perlstein also plans to develop new undergraduate course curriculum as well as building on current STEM outreach program efforts to begin training the next generation of scientists.
To learn more about Dr. Perlstein and her groups research activities visit her Faculty page: http://www.bu.edu/chemistry/faculty/perlstein/.