Friday, May 19, 2017

Biochemistry Alumni at Montana State University


IU South Bend biochemistry 2014 graduates Angela Patterson (left) and Jac Miller (middle) independently landed at Montana State University to pursue their graduate studies. Jac followed the footsteps of Dr. Gretchen Anderson and studied enzymes involved in nitrogen fixation with Dr. John Peters. Jac earned her Master’s degree in Biochemistry and is now teaching, doing research, and bringing up her baby daughter Adelaide (in the carriage!) and her horse. Angela is an expert in mass spectroscopy and metabolomics working with Prof. Brian Bothner. She will most likely finish her Ph.D. in 2019. Gretchen Anderson (right) had a chance to catch up with both alumni as well as Dr. Jennifer DuBois, formerly at Notre Dame, and with whom Anderson spent a sabbatical leave in 2008.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Professor Muna is "Getting the Lead Out"!

 
Professor Grace Muna (above) is finishing her research sabbatical at Notre Dame where she is teamed with Professor Marya Lieberman (below left). They've been working on ways to detect lead in paint samples.  The picture above is a screenshot from part two of a special news report from WSBT, channel 22.  The news report can be found online here at WSBT while two videos from the report can also be found on YouTube: Part 1 and Part 2 (features Muna).  This summer Muna returns to IU South Bend to continue her research with several undergraduate students.  Congratulations to Muna for making the news and contributing to such an important project. 
 
 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Rizk Presents at Protein Folding Conference

 
Undergraduates Michele Costantino and Maggie Fink accompanied biochemistry professor Shahir Rizk to the 12th Annual Midwest Conference on Protein Folding, Assembly and Molecular Motion.  This conference is held every year at Notre Dame and attracts protein scientists from across the Midwest including Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa. Rizk presented work from his lab on engineered antibody fragments that can be used to modulate protein interactions in order to rescue the function of a mutant enzyme involved in cancer. The conference is a great opportunity for undergraduate students to see new areas of research and how science is communicated.

Anderson Teaches STEM at Starbase


Led by Dr. Gretchen Anderson, a class of about twenty at-risk students used their measuring and observational skills to determine just how much water a diaper can absorb. The answer is a lot more than you would think! But if there is salt in the water (normal saline concentrations) then the diapers are barely better than paper towels. Anderson helped students collect data and come to conclusions about the role of sodium ions and water in polyacrylate gels.
 
Special thanks to the staff and students at Starbase, a federal-sponsored program that promotes and offers education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - the STEM subjects. Starbase provides 25 hours of curriculum over 5 weeks, with various schools rotating in and out of Starbase to spark interest in STEM education and careers. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Associate Faculty are Honored for Service

 
Three of our associate faculty were honored yesterday in a reception for their years of service. Pat Boettcher (left) has taught general chemistry and organic chemistry laboratories for us for the past five years.  Both Pete McCasland (center) and Clark Hartford (right) have been with us for 15 years. McCasland and Hartford routinely teach freshman laboratory classes but have also taught lecture courses: both have taught the introductory course for health science majors and Hartford has, on occasion, taught the upper-level analytical chemistry and instrumental analysis lectures and laboratories.  We are very grateful to have these men - and all our other associate faculty - diligently and proficiently teaching for us. Without them, it would not be possible to offer as many courses as we do. The years of experience of our associate faculty, often in industry, nicely support and complement the more academic experience that the full-time faculty have.  We hope that they will continue to teach with us for many years to come.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Rizk Publishes in Scientific Reports

 
Professor Shahir Rizk recently published in Scientific Reports of the Nature Publishing Group. This effort began in a post-doctoral position at the University of Chicago and finished here at IU South Bend. As main author, Rizk collaborated with several researchers with connections to the University of Chicago, the New York University Langone Medical Center,  and the New York University School of Medicine - scientists that he continues to collaborate with.  Rizk explains the article's theme in the following paragraph, but you can read the abstract and full paper by clicking here.
 
Many diseases result from a mutation that causes an enzyme deficiency. This typically impairs the function of an essential enzyme, leading to disease manifestation. In many cases, the mutation impairs the ability of the enzyme to adopt the correct 3D structure required for proper function. This article addresses the question: How can we bring an enzyme that has been disrupted by mutation back to life? We focused on Isocitrate Dehydrogenase I, a metabolic enzyme that is mutated in a large percentage of individuals with brain tumors. The goal was to restore function to the mutant enzyme by trying to force it to adopt the correct 3D structure. We used a technique called phage display, which allowed us to engineer an antibody fragment that binds to the natural 3D structure of the enzyme. When added to the mutant enzyme, the engineered antibody fragment was able to restore natural function to the mutant enzyme. While this study was done in the test tube, it is a fist step in the design of "activator molecules" that can hopefully help restore function to a large number of mutant enzymes. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Work Study Positions



Pictured above are Biochemistry majors Victor Gutierrez-Schultz (left) and Khai Pham (right).  They are both working with Professor Anderson this semester to develop and trouble-shoot experiments for Anderson's upcoming freshman-level nanotechnology course CHEM-N 190 Natural World - Introduction to Nanochemistry.  Gutierrez was able to participate in this work as part of our Work Study Program which offers part-time employment to students who meet certain criteria and have completed a FAFSA form.  Working in your department not only provides a source of income, it also develops skills and knowledge relevant to your discipline.  If you are interested in a work study position, please contact a faculty member in your department - they may know of a position suitable to you.