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2017

chemistry.osu.edu


DEAR CHEMISTRY & BIOCHEMISTRY ALUMNI, As we begin another promising semester, it is a real pleasure to share some of our recent efforts, successes and plans for moving forward. One of our major efforts — recruiting new faculty — paid off with five wonderful new additions. Read more about them on page 7. We thrive on and take pride in continued research innovations. Professors Pat Woodward and Joshua Goldberger lead interdisciplinary groups at the Center for Emergent Materials, an NSF-MRSEC that performs integrated research on emergent materials and phenomena in magnetoelectronics. CEM also engages in educational outreach for students of all ages, developing high school science courses, and training teachers and providing undergraduate research opportunities. Professor Heather Allen is a partner at the Center for Aerosol Impacts on Climate and the Environment, an NSF-CCI focused on improving the understanding of aerosol particles’ impact on the environment, air quality and climate. Our entrepreneurial spirit is soaring. Faculty members Heather Allen, James Coe, Prabir Dutta, Thomas Magliery, Jon Parquette, Dehua Pei and Zucai Suo have, or soon will have, new startup companies resulting from recent research discoveries. These initiatives, along with efforts to license CBC science and technology, are important for the department’s future, as federal research funding seems increasingly precarious.

Engaging you in the life of our department and connecting you with students, faculty and fellow alumni is a priority. Our new LinkedIn page and other social media create access to departmental news and relevant job opportunities. Our 8,000+ alumni could be quite a national force! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to help each other reach phenomenal career heights? We hope to build an alumni network, LinkedIn job forum and discussion group to make that happen. Other initiatives include our new Technology Oversight Committee, an alumni advisory board providing guidance to faculty considering startup companies, and creating an alumni undergraduate education advisory board tapping into your expertise and skills to enrich our students’ career opportunities. As many of our majors plan to become physicians, the board will include an MD Committee. If you are interested in serving on these committees or boards, please email me at olesik.1@osu.edu. I hope to see you when you next visit Columbus and at our alumni receptions at national ACS meetings. With warmest regards,

Susan Olesik Professor and Chair Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry


CBC 2016-17 ACHIEVEMENTS

• Heather Allen, 2017 Saddleback College Alumna of the Year Award • Abraham Badu-Tawiah, 2017 American Association for Mass Spectrometry Research Award for Young Scientists • Anne Co, 2016 Lumley Interdisciplinary Research Award • John Herbert, 2016 Von Humboldt Research Prize • Christopher Jaroniec, 2016 AAAS Fellow, 2017 Varian Young Investigator in Biological NMR Awardee • Edward Behrman, elected 2017 fellow, British Royal Society of Chemistry • Susan Olesik, 2016 OSU Glass Breaker Award, 2016 and 2017 Analytical Sciences Power List • Jennifer Ottesen, 2017 Arts and Sciences Honors Faculty Service Award • Yiying Wu, 2016, 40 Under 40 for Midwest Energy

IN THIS ISSUE 1

Message from the Chair

3

Faculty Spotlights

6

Student Starters

7

New Faculty; One Alumna’s Journey

9

CBC Research on the Road


5 \ FACULTY 3 NEW FACULTY SPOTLIGHTS

RISING STARS AND INFLUENTIAL SCHOLARS LAYING KEYSTONES ON THE ROAD TO MAJOR DISCOVERIES

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR DAVID NAGIB: Two major research awards are speeding Nagib and his team on their way to building better medicine. First, a MIRA Grant from the National Institutes of Health in September 2016 is funding work on harnessing free radicals to selectively modify C-H bonds in complex molecules — enabling more rapid drug discovery. Then in February, 2017, Nagib received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, which is boosting his dynamic labs’ investigations of carbonyls, one of the most important building blocks in the synthesis of new medicines. Nagib explains, “Since carbonyls are electron-poor at carbon, they typically only react with electron-rich partners. However, if you add a single electron to a carbonyl, you can convert it to a ketyl radical — now combining with electron-deficient species in a “polarity reversed” fashion. The problem — and why this powerful approach isn’t used more often — is that making ketyl radicals normally requires the use of strong metal reductants like sodium or samarium, which can be toxic, expensive and incompatible with common functional groups found in medicines. We are designing a mild, catalytic approach that can be sustainably employed to access this other side of carbonyl reactivity. In fact, harnessing radicals is at the heart of a lot of what we do!”


FACULTY SPOTLIGHTS / 4

THE STRENGTH OF DISCIPLINES IS MEASURED BY MANY THINGS — NONE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE FACULTY MEMBERS IT IS ABLE TO RECRUIT, AND RETAIN, BY SUPPORTING AND NURTURING DIVERSE, INVENTIVE MINDS. THE WORK BEING DONE IN OUR LABS SOLVES PROBLEMS, CHANGES LIVES AND MAKES A POSITIVE CONTRIBUTION TO IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF HUMAN LIFE. WE THINK YOU WILL AGREE OUR DEPARTMENT OF CHEMISTRY AND BIOCHEMISTRY HAS NEVER BEEN STRONGER.

RISING STARS Our young faculty are already making a mark and a difference on their way to solving some of our most pressing problems, and winning highly-competitive awards given to support the efforts of the nation’s top young researchers. Meet three who are driving innovative research in critical areas. ASSISTANT PROFESSOR ABRAHAM K. BADU-TAWIAH: In just two months — May and June 2016 — Badu-Tawiah made stride, and news, in both energy and health research. First, he received a Department of Energy Early Career Award to fast-track discovery of new catalysts that best absorb light. Then his lab’s ground-breaking innovation made news around the world: When “Mass Spectrometry for Paper-Based Immunoassays: Toward On-Demand Diagnosis,” was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Badu-Tawiah suddenly found himself in high demand with news outlets running the gamut from U.S. News & World Report to the Huffington Post and the BBC. The intriguing question? What if testing yourself for cancer or other diseases were as easy as testing your blood sugar or taking a home pregnancy test? “In a few years, it could be," Badu-Tawiah said of the new, low-cost, proof-of-concept paper strip developed in his lab, which can reveal the presence of malaria or cancer antigen in the blood. “It lets you apply a drop of blood on a paper strip, at home, mail it to a laboratory and only see a doctor if the test is positive. This is especially important in areas of the world with limited access to health care.”

BIOCHEMISTRY ASSISTANT PROFESSOR KOTARO NAKANISHI: Nakanishi’s new, five-year, $981,250 National Institutes of Health (NIH) RO1 grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) will help him unravel the negative health impacts of RNA Silencing, which include neurodegeneration and cancer. The key player of RNA silencing is a RNAinduced silencing complex composed of a short-length RNA called microRNA and a protein called Argonaute (AGO). Think of the relationship between microRNA and AGO resembling a vinyl record and a turntable, respectively. To play the song engraved on itself, each record needs to be set on a turntable properly so that the groove is read out by the needle. Recent studies showed that four AGOs target different mRNAs, even though the same microRNA is loaded into them. Why? Nakanishi’s group has found clues that the new grant will allow them to explore and find a better understanding of RNA silencing, essential to establish a sound basis for applications of the silencing system in therapeutics. “Humans have four AGOs and more than 4,000 microRNAs,” Nakanishi says. “Imagine you have four different types of turntables along with a collection of more than 4,000 vinyl records. You would be surprised if the four turntables play different songs even though the same vinyl record is set on them. You would think ‘no way.’ But — the impossible happens.”


5 \ FACULTY SPOTLIGHTS

SEMINAL SCHOLARS Recognized as leaders in their fields, they are breaking new ground; teaching, mentoring and inspiring others DOW PROFESSOR CLAUDIA TURRO: Turro is a pioneer in designing new molecules that can be activated with light. Their significant applications to both medicine and the environment are wide-ranging, game-changers in the areas of medical therapy and diagnostics, and sustainable energy and the environment. She has discovered new compounds that not only kill cancer cells, but inhibit tumor metastasis and turn on a beacon that signals exactly where the cancer is located. Not just that, these compounds, activated by low-light energy, can be modified to deliver inhibitors to target uncontrolled growth and cell proliferation and be tailored for specific types of cancer. New state-of-the-art ultrafast spectroscopy makes it possible to gain new insights into fundamental processes taking place after a metal-containing molecule absorbs light. This has led to designing new molecules that, when exposed to light, could exhibit two or more outputs simultaneously, essentially creating the first "drug cocktail," or "dual-action," metalcontaining drugs. This alone is a remarkable achievement; but Turro additionally discovered new materials that are able to efficiently generate hydrogen, a clean fuel, from water. Turro received the university’s 2017 Distinguished Scholar Award for her impressive record of achievements. In both lab and classroom, Turro teaches, mentors and inspires students at all levels.

BIOCHEMISTRY PROFESSOR AND OHIO EMINENT SCHOLAR VICKI WYSOCKI: The Wysocki group works on determining peptide dissociation mechanisms to improve programs used for automated sequencing of peptides and proteins; biomarker discovery for foreign organism detection, and disease diagnosis using proteomics methods; among other things. Studies are designed to increase current understanding of the fragmentation patterns of activated protonated peptides, particularly formation and fragmentation of isobaric “b” ion structures. Ultimate goals are to provide additional "rules" to increase confidence in automated primary sequencing of peptides and proteins by tandem mass spectrometry. Biodefense and Proteomics projects analyze different disease systems for protein biomarkers — from finding markers indicating diseases such as COPD and hypertension, to detecting invasive fungal and bacterial proteins in various organs of host organisms. They are looking at affinity-capture of protein biomarkers, and de-novo sequencing of hemoglobin in ticks to identify original source of blood for disease control. Wysocki, respected internationally for her work, won the 2017 Frank H. Field and Joe L. Franklin Award for Outstanding Achievement in Mass Spectrometry for outstanding accomplishments in developing surface-induced dissociation for native mass spectrometry structural characterization of noncovalent complexes. Wysocki, an exemplary role model, cites one of hers: “Oxford’s Carol Robinson; working in industry, taking 8 years off to have children, today is one of the world’s top scientists. Some might see this as a single outlier datapoint, to me it shows our ideas of what ‘works’ in a career are often false.”


STUDENT STARTERS / 6

STUDENT STARTERS: GOING PLACES, MAKING A NAME FOR THEMSELVES, MAKING US PROUD

GRADUATE STUDENTS BILLY MCCULLOCH and MENG HUANG: received the Graduate School’s top award — the highly competitive Ohio State University Presidential Fellowship — which will support their final year of dissertation work. McCulloch joined Professor Yiying Wu’s group in 2014, where he began studying alloyed anode materials for potassium-air batteries. He is interested in both electrochemical energy storage and photoelectrical chemistry and currently works on developing new solar batteries. Huang is co-advised by Professor Emeritus Terry Miller and Adjunct Professor Anne B. McCoy in the Chemical Physics Program. Huang studies molecular spectroscopy, focusing on understanding the effects of large-amplitude motions on the spectra of radicals and clusters in the gas-phase.

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW FLORIAN BUSCH: Busch received a one-year fellowship from the German Research Foundation funding his proposal, “Mass Spectrometry Study of the Structure of Anthranilate Synthases,” to continue his work in Professor Vicki Wysocki’s laboratory on the analysis of protein structure by different mass spectrometric techniques.

SENIOR HONORS CHEMISTRY STUDENT, SCOTT GARDNER: was named a 2017 Goldwater Scholar by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program, the top national award for undergraduate researchers in science, math and engineering. Garner investigates the spectroscopy of reactive chemical intermediates with Professor Emeritus Terry Miller. He analyzes the Jahn-Teller distortions in atmospherically important NO3 radicals through rotationally and vibrationally resolved spectra.


7 \ NEW FACULTY

INTRODUCING OUR NEWEST FACULTY: WE ARE PROUD OF OUR ABILITY TO ATTRACT THE BEST AND BRIGHTEST. Meet the latest additions to our stellar faculty. CHRISTINE THOMAS, PhD, Inorganic Chemistry, Cal Tech; Postdoctoral work: Texas A&M, studies metal-metal and metal-ligand cooperative process and their applications towards multielectron redox processes and the activation and functionalization of sigma bonds with the ultimate goal of developing more sustainable catalyst technologies.

ALEXANDER SOKOLOV, PhD, Chemistry, University of Georgia; Postdoctoral work: Princeton University; Cal Tech, develops new theoretical methods simulating light-induced and non-equilibrium processes in chemical systems with complex electronic structure.

CHRISTO SEVOV, PhD, University of California, Berkeley; Postdoctoral work: University of Michigan, devises strategies at interface of homogeneous catalysis and electrochemistry to sustainably use electrical energy generated from renewable sources.

SHIYU ZHANG, PhD, Chemistry, Georgetown University; Postdoctoral work: MIT; Harvard, explores cooperative reactivity of bimetallic complexes, high-power radical batteries and ionic molecular receptors for reactive molecules to synthetically model high-reactivity model biological centers yet to be replicated by synthetic systems.

CASEY WADE, PhD, Texas A&M; Postdoctoral work: MIT, integrates molecular inorganic/organometallic chemistry and materials science to synthesize and study new functional materials with applications in catalysis, sensing and separation.


ONE ALUMNA’S JOURNEY / 8

ONE ALUMNA’S JOURNEY TO LEARN: ERIN WILFONG, BA, CHEMISTRY, 2003 East Coast to West Coast, here and abroad, Wilfong’s always traveling. Her father, a chemist, inspired her love of chemistry. Her first set of Legos was an old organic-chemistry molecule set. In high school, Wilfong studied in Germany, then journeyed to Ohio State, majoring in chemistry and German, graduating in 2003. Leaving the Buckeye state, she went to Duke University, finishing a MD/PhD (in chemistry) program in 2011. She moved to Johns Hopkins Hospital to do a residency in Internal Medicine; then completed a Rheumatology Fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. Where is Wilfong now? Working on a Pulmonary/ Critical Care Fellowship at Vanderbilt University. She will always love Ohio State, saying her mentor, Terry Gustafson, forever holds a place in her heart, “Not only was he a great academic mentor, he was a research collaborator during my PhD program. The paper we wrote together is my favorite piece of research thus far.”

Erin Wilfong with (from left to right) Justin Hewlett, Thomas Atwater and Ryan Brown. They are classmates in her fellowship class at Vanderbilt.


9 \ CBC RESEARCH ON THE ROAD

UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH: Two of our promising undergraduate researchers presented their work in April at the 31st National Conference of Undergraduate Research at the University of Memphis. MILAUNI MEHTA, Co-Catalyzed Hydroboration of Linear 1,3-dienes; and SYDNEY SILLART, Synthesis of Quinone Methide Precursors as Acetylcholinesterase Reactivators. These invaluable opportunities give our undergraduates meaningful experience for graduate work or other career paths. The other bonus? They love it!

It was a really fun experience to get to know all the kids from Ohio State doing research in multiple, different fields. The most memorable part of the trip was going to see the other students' posters/having them come to mine and learning about each other's research. And, it was nice to have the evenings off to explore Memphis and try new foods! – Milauni Mehta


CBC RESEARCH ON THE ROAD / 10

SCIENCE IS FOR SHARING:

TAKING REAL CHEMISTRY INTO REAL COLUMBUS COMMUNITIES CBC’s Demo Lab, administered by CHEMIST ANGELA MILLER, doesn’t just provide chemical demonstrations for chemistry classes — their work extends far beyond campus. Miller and her students take their demos on the road: to schools, libraries and other events around Columbus, giving young scientists a chance to learn science visually and actually see how it’s part of their daily lives. Recently, they visited Metro High School and Livingston Elementary Science Night. Miller says, “I love doing outreach, especially events, like Science Café, geared towards elementary-school aged kids. Kids (and their parents) are familiar with simple concepts, such as pressure, wind, boiling and vacuums, so I can use those concepts as a jumping off-point to teach them about more unfamiliar scientific principles. I like them to have an interactive experience and be able to explore their ideas in real time; if someone wants to try a variation on a demo, I can do it right then and there, add to their knowledge of chemistry and fuel their curiosity and excitement.”


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