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Chemistry Department News

Jerrett Holdaway Successfully Defends Thesis

Jerrett Holdaway

Congratulations to Jerrett Holdaway of the M.S. Chemistry Program for successfully defending his thesis titled “Potent and Potentially Non-Cardiotoxic Anthracyclines; Their Synthesis, Biological Evaluation, and Comparison of Hydrozone-Mediated Reductions”.

Drs. Michael Callahan and Karen Smith Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Assistant Professor Michael Callahan and Research Scientist Karen Smith were part of a multi-disciplinary and international research collaboration involving chemistry, archaeology, agriculture, environmental sciences, climatological sciences, and natural history. This research effort led to the discovery that wine-making existed 8,000 years ago, around 6,000 B.C.

Wine Samples

Callahan and Smith applied analytical chemistry methods to pot shards from the South Caucasus region near Tbilisi, Georgia. This area has a rich wine tradition, but the ancient origins of wine-making in this region were only recently verified with assistance from Callahan’s and Smith’s LC-MS research techniques, which can be read about in detail in the recently published manuscript “Early Neolithic wine of Georgia in the South Caucasus” in PNAS, vol 114, no. 46, November 14, 2017.

Articles on this discovery can be read at the following links:

Employees Honored for Years of Service

Jon Scaggs and Donna HarrymanCongratulations to Donna Harryman (right), Jon Scaggs (left), and Israel Shebley (not pictured) for their dedicated years of service to Boise State University and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. They were honored at the annual, university-wide Employee Recognition Luncheon on October 30, which was presented by the Association of Classified Employees, Professional Staff Association and the Department of Human Resources. Donna, Administrative Assistant, was recognized for 10 years of service; Jon, Manager, Chem Laboratories, was recognized for 5 years of service; and Israel, Lab Services Coordinator, was recognized for 5 years of service. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry would not function without them; their hard work and dedication is applauded!

Drs. Lisa Warner, Owen McDougal, and Matthew King Receive Collaborative NIH RO1 Grant

Lisa Warner, Owen McDougal, Ken Fujise, Matt King

Dr. Lisa Warner, Dr. Owen McDougal, and Dr. Matthew King have received funds through a collaborative NIH R01 grant with researcher Dr. Ken Fujise at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. The four year grant was awarded for $1,000,000 with about $393,000 coming to Boise State University. They are very excited to begin work on their project titled “Using Fortilin Inhibitors to Block Atherosclerosis.”

The aim of this research is to attack the protein fortilin to prevent fat cells from multiplying and getting bigger, which could ultimately lead to a treatment for Coronary Artery Disease.

More information on this team’s interdisciplinary project can be found here. 

Daniel Shin Successfully Defends Thesis

Congratulations to Daniel Shin of the M.S. Chemistry Program for successfully defending his thesis titled “AHL based Modulators for RhII, a Quorum Sensing Signal Synthase in P. aeruginosa”. Daniel is pictured with his advisor, Dr. Rajesh Nagarajan, and his thesis committee members, Dr. Michael Callahan and Dr. Henry Charlier.

Mike Callahan, Henry Charlier, Daniel Shin, Rajesh Nagarajan

Mike Callahan, Henry Charlier, Daniel Shin, Rajesh Nagarajan

Mila Lam Successfully Defends Thesis

Congratulations to Mila Lam of the M.S. Chemistry Program for successfully defending her thesis titled “Investigation of Catalytic Activity of Stable β-Ketoacyl-ACP Substrate Analogs in Quorum Sensing Signal Synthesis”. Mila is pictured with her advisor, Dr. Rajesh Nagarajan, and her thesis committee members, Dr. Owen McDougal and Dr. Eric Brown.

Owen McDougal, Mila Lam, Rajesh Nagarajan, Eric Brown

Owen McDougal, Mila Lam, Rajesh Nagarajan, Eric Brown

Dr. Ken Cornell Receives Collaborative NIH Grant

Cornell/Thurston Research GroupDr. Ken Cornell has received a three year, $418,000 collaborative grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the microscopic parasite Giardia. Dr. Cornell will be collaborating with Dr. John Thurston, an associate professor of chemistry at the College of Idaho, to develop and test new anti-parasitic drugs to fight Giardia infections. Between Boise State and the College of Idaho, there are up to 30 students at a time working on these new drugs.

More information about this research can be found at the following links:

Matthew Turner and Dr. Owen McDougal Published in Toxins

Matthew Turner & Owen McDougal

Matthew Turner & Owen McDougal

Dr. Owen McDougal and Biomolecular Sciences Ph.D. student Matthew Turner published a paper in Toxins that studied effective ways of cleaning up and decontaminating conotoxins. Conotoxins are neurotoxin venoms produced by predatory marine snails and are composed of disulfide-rich peptides that are particularly harmful if mishandled.

The paper, “a-Conotoxin Decontamination Protocol Evaluation: What Works and What Doesn’t” Toxins 2017, 9(9), 281; doi:10.3390/toxins9090281 can be read here.

Dr. LeMaster and Group Published in Journal of Molecular Structure

Dr. Clifford LeMaster teamed up with graduate student Jonathan Prince, alumni Keanan Cassidy, Benjamin Greenwood, and Drew Butler, and retired faculty member Carole LeMaster to publish “Gas-phase nuclear magnetic resonance study of internal isomerization in perfluoro-2-azapropene: Comparison of experimental and computed kinecitc parameters” in Journal of Molecular Structure, 1146 (2017) pg.126-129. This study compared experimental measurements of spectroscopic and energy values to the group’s theoretical computer simulation values, and provided strong evidence to the exact mechanism involved in the isomer transformation process.

The paper can be viewed at the following link: Journal of Molecular Structure: Gas-phase nuclear magnetic resonance study of internal isomerization in perfluoro-2-azapropene

An author presentation of the paper is also available in the following Windows Media file: Gas-phase nuclear magnetic resonance study of internal isomerization in perfluoro-2-azapropene (MP4)

Dr. Raj Nagarajan and Nicole (Frane) Cornell Published in PNAS

Dr. Nagarajan and Nicole CornellDr. Rajesh Nagarajan co-authored a paper with graduate student Nicole (Frane) Cornell in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the official scientific journal of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper titled “Molecular basis for the substrate specificity of quorum signal synthases” appears in vol. 114 no. 34.

This research looked at the role of enzymes that create the signaling molecules. By understanding bacteria quorum sensing mechanisms, the research group hopes to develop other means of disrupting bacterial infection.