Chemistry Department News
Bacteria can “talk” to each other, and when the noise of this talk becomes chemically loud enough, infection results. Drs. Rajesh Nagarajan and Eric Brown with graduate student alumni Nhu (Mila) Lam conduct research that seeks to interrupt this chemical chatter by investigating a synthase enzyme that is involved in molecular signaling pathways. They recently published “Insights into β-ketoacyl-chain recognition for β-ketoacyl-ACP utilizing AHL synthases” in the July 13, 2018 edition of the journal Chemical Communications.
Professor Mike Callahan and Phillip Hammer (M.S., 2017; 2016-2017 NASA Earth and Space Science Fellow) published an article titled, “Radiolysis of solid-state nitrogen heterocycles provides clues to their abundance in the early solar system” in the International Journal of Astrobiology. The team also included researchers from the Earth-Life Science Institute and the Research Laboratory for Nuclear Reactors, both at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is proud to announce that Grants Accountant Greg Kator was selected as the June 2018 Employee of the Month! Greg’s duties require him to continuously and seamlessly liaison with several university departments including Biology, Physics, OSP, Budget, and Foundation in order to execute the department’s financial plan. His easygoing personality makes him a natural when working with a diverse group of personnel on complex financial transactions spanning multiple business units of the university.
Recently, Greg’s efforts were critical to the successful budget planning for three new Lab Instructor positions. His attention to detail is top notch, and he is especially attentive to student employee pay issues and funding sources for research students. Greg’s versatility was noted long ago and he was tasked to assist in a similar role for the Biology and Physics departments, where those departments have commended his efforts.
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry congratulates Greg on his selection as Employee of the Month!
Nhu (Mila) Lam, 2018 M.S. Chemistry Alumnus, was selected as a winner of the 2017-2018 Boise State University Distinguished Thesis Award for the Biological Sciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Life Sciences and Engineering.
Her thesis “Investigation of Catalytic Activity of Stable β-Ketoacyl-ACP Substrate Analogs in Quorum Sensing Signal Synthesis” impressed the selection committee for its originality and creativity.
In recognition of her accomplishment, Mila received $100.00 and her thesis will be submitted as the Boise State University nominee to the Western Association of Graduate Schools (WAGS) distinguished thesis award competition.
Graduate student Ashley Poppe attended the American Chemical Society 73rd Northwest Regional Meeting in Richland, WA to present her research. Her poster was titled “Investigation of Acyl-Carrier Protein Specificity in Pseudomonas aeruginosa Quorum Sensing Signal Synthase”.
Lab Services Coordinator
Stephanie consistently demonstrates exemplary work performance across many areas in her role as Laboratory Services Coordinator.
She embraces change and tackles challenges with a positive attitude. She recently transitioned to lower division lab service coordinator, and lab coordinators easily give praise for her ability to accommodate last minute curriculum change requests. She has been especially quick, efficient, and helpful in making changes to lower division lab curriculum in time for summer classes, and has left colleagues satisfied with results.
Stephanie is a self-starter and often takes on tasks without anyone having to ask. When a project needs doing, Stephanie has a “bulldog-on-a-bone” mentality, throwing her energy into special tasks and consistently beating deadlines. She recently volunteered to take charge of evaluating a new chemical inventory system, including vetting vendor software and doing so with enthusiasm, energy, tenacity, and thoughtfulness.
Stephanie has long been assigned to the “swing shift” and worked onerous and inconvenient hours that last late into the evening and weekends. Her dependability in managing department activities after normal hours is unmatched. Stephanie has always stepped up to keep the department as safe as possible. She proactively seeks to help students with questions, lab breakage fees, equipment issue, and safety, and is all-around a very valuable asset to our department.
Professor Owen McDougal and undergraduate chemistry major Tyson Hardy presented their research at the annual BUILD Dairy conference hosted by Oregon State University from May 30 to 31. The conference brings together over 100 students, faculty, government, and industry representatives from every aspect of dairy production from farm to consumer product. BUILD Dairy now provides over $100,000 in sponsorship for two research projects in McDougal’s lab. Students Tyson Hardy and, recently admitted Chemistry Masters student, Vannessa Campfield are the first of the BUILD Dairy funded researchers at Boise State University. Their work will lead to fast, economical, and easily implemented analytical methods to monitor levels of denatured protein during milk processing, and identify inhibitors of propionibacteria in milk used to make Swiss cheese. The BUILD Dairy program funds student research, connects students to industry internships, and facilitates career opportunities for dairy knowledgeable applicants.
Acrylamides, which can develop in some foods during high-temperature cooking processes, are suspected to have carcinogenic effects on the human body. A judge in California recently ruled coffee growers need to label the acrylamide content of their beans as it’s formed during the roasting process. But can the way certain foods are cooked really cause cancer? Dr. Owen McDougal sat down with Idaho Matters on Boise State Public Radio to discuss the relationship between acrylamides and cooked foods, examining whether or not there is direct link between human consumption and cancer.
Dr. Owen McDougal published the results of his sabbatical research from the University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ in the New Zealand Journal of Botany.
Dr. Owen McDougal was awarded $96,750 for a BUILD Dairy proposal titled, “Identification of Propionibacteria Inhibitors in Swiss Cheese Milk.” Grant funds will be used to support two years of laboratory research by Vannessa Campfield to complete her Chemistry MS degree at Boise State University.