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Chemistry Department News

Kelsey Skluzacek Successfully Defends Thesis

Kelsey Skluzacek of the Boise State Chemistry M.S. Program successfully defended her thesis titled “Structure-Based Drug Design of Novel Therapeutics Targeting Oncostatin M”. Kelsey (far left) is pictured with her advisor Dr. Don Warner, and her committee members Dr. Matthew King, Dr. Cheryl Jorcyk, and Dr. Lisa Warner.

Kelsey Skluzacek

Daniel Shin, Dr. Brown, & Dr. Nagarajan Published in ACS Chemical Biology

Graduate alumnus Daniel Shin (middle), along with Dr. Eric Brown (left) and Dr. Rajesh Nagarajan (right), have a new publication titled “Structure–Function Analyses of the N-Butanoyl l-Homoserine Lactone Quorum-Sensing Signal Define Features Critical to Activity in RhlR”. The article appears in volume 13, issue 9 of ACS Chemical Biology.

Eric Brown, Daniel Shin, Rajesh Nagarajan

Matthew Turner Published in Molecules

Matthew Turner

Matthew Turner

Biomolecular Sciences Ph.D. student Matthew Turner has a new publication out in Molecules. The article titled “Native V. californicum Alkaloid Combinations Induce Differential Inhibition of Sonic Hedgehog Signaling” can be read in the volume 23, issue 9 edition.

Boise State Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry undergraduates Roberto Cruz, John French, and Jared Mattos and Professor and Chair Owen McDougal are co-authors on the article.


Dr. Rajesh Nagarajan Presents at the 2018 Gordon Research Conference

Rajesh Nagarajan

Dr. Rajesh Nagarajan presented “Beta-Ketoacyl-ACP Substrate Mimics for 3-Oxoacyl-ACP Utilizing AHL Synthases” at the 2018 Gordon Research Conference on Enzymes, Coenzymes and Metabolic Pathways in New Hampshire. The Gordon Research Conference highlighted a broad range of topics from mechanism and function to therapeutic applications in enzymology. Speakers participating at this conference included both established and emerging leaders from academia and industry to promote diverse perspectives and inspire stimulating productive discussions among attendees.

Employee of the Month – June 2018

Greg Kator

Greg Kator

Grants Accountant

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!

Employee of the Month – May 2018

Stephanie Cochran

Stephanie Cochran

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.

Dr. Owen McDougal and Tyson Hardy Presented at Annual BUILD Dairy Conference

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.

Owen McDougal

Tyson Hardy

Owen McDougal Discusses Acrylamides and Link to Cancer on Boise State Public Radio

Owen McDougalAcrylamides, 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. McDougal’s radio segment can be heard at Boise State Public Radio.

Dr. Owen McDougal Awarded Funds for BUILD Dairy proposal

Owen McDougalVannessa Campfield

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.


Drs. Don Warner and Matt King Awarded METAvivor Grant

Don Warner, Cheryl Jorcyk, Matt King

Professor Don Warner and Assistant Professor Matt King have been awarded a $200,000 METAvivor grant to develop a potential therapeutic for advanced breast cancer metastasis to bone. They will be teaming up with Cheryl Jorcyk (Professor in the Boise State Department of Biological Sciences) to develop an anti-inflammatory therapy with minimal side-effects that would reduce or eliminate breast cancer bone metastasis and prolong lives.

The full article on this team’s breast cancer research can be viewed here.