Recent News

Jianhan Chen recently received a four-year, $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study a newly recognized class of proteins with highly flexible three-dimensional (3D) structural properties, in particular some extra-floppy ones called intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs).

Proteins are macromolecules that control nearly all aspects of cell function from response to external stimuli to control of cell cycle and cell fate decisions, Chen explains. He adds that IDPs are unusual because while most proteins adopt stable 3D structures to do their work in the cell, IDPs instead remain structurally disordered, that is, extremely flexible. They are believed to account for about one-third of all eukaryotic proteins and are key components of cellular signaling and regulatory networks.

Scientists now believe that by staying flexible, IDPs have an advantage in interacting with other proteins and each other, perhaps because the floppy state lets them respond faster than a more rigid structure, or lets them interact with a wider variety of molecules, or both, Chen says.

Jianhan Chen, Chemistry and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, was awarded a four-year, $600,000 grant from National Science Foundation (NSF), to develop efficient GPU-accelerated computational techniques and study how proteins may exploit highly flexible structures for function. A particular focus will be on so-called intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs), a fascinating class of functional proteins that account for about one-third of all eukaryotic proteins and are key components of cellular signaling and regulatory network.

Jeanne Hardy, associate professor of chemistry, whose research focuses on a key protein linked to neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, is being recognized with the inaugural Mahoney Life Sciences Prize at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A panel of expert judges from the life sciences sector observed that the “biomedical implications are significant” and “this could turn out to be one of ‘the’ pivotal studies in the effort to combat Alzheimer’s.” Hardy will receive the prize and present her research with life sciences experts and UMass officials and scientists at a breakfast ceremony on June 19 at the UMass Club in Boston. “Professor Hardy’s research rose to the top of three highly competitive rounds of review,” said Tricia Serio, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. “Her work exemplifies the outstanding translational research for which our faculty are well known.”

Christie L.C. Ellis, a fourth-year doctoral candidate in chemistry and an advisee of Dhandapani “DV” Venkataraman, whose research focuses on materials used in solar cells, has received a coveted Mass Media Fellowship from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). It will send her to work as a science writer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for a 10-week internship beginning in June.

Among other benefits, the long-running program will provide Ellis with travel funds, an orientation at AAAS in Washington, D.C., a stipend and training in interviewing skills and news judgment. She expects to shadow a science writer at the newspaper for a short time and then work on her own stories. “I feel really fortunate to have this fellowship. They’re giving me a really great opportunity and investing a lot in me,” she says.

Her advisor says, “Christie is passionate about communicating science to a broad audience. Therefore, this prestigious fellowship will provide a fantastic opportunity for her to learn from experts in the media industry and closely interact with them. We are eager to learn from Christie’s experience and improve our science communication skills.”

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Fatih Comert
Dissertation Defense
Wednesday, August 22, 2018

“Precipitation and Coacervation in Polyelectrolyte-Colloid Systems”

2:00 pm
LSL N410
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Connor Boyle
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Thursday, August 23, 2018

"Impact of Chemical Doping on the Thermoelectric Charge Transport of Organic Semiconductors"

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Friday, August 24, 2018

“Engineering Outer Membrane Protein G (OmpG) for the Detection of Human Carbonic Anhydrases”

9:00 AM
LSL N410
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Han Guo
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Monday, August 27, 2018

“The Dissociative Chemisorption of Methane and Its Isotopologues on Metal Surfaces”

10:00 am
LGRT 869
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Stein-Covestro Seminar
Prof. Paula T. Hammond
Thursday, September 6, 2018
Mingxu You
11:30 am
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