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carolina

sc1ent1fic Spring 2009

Undergraduate Magazine

UNC-Chapel Hill

Volume I, Issue II


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From the Editors To our readers:   As undergraduates who have been involved in research since high school, we understand and recognize the importance of research as the source of new and exciting scientific knowledge. And who says that undergraduates cannot be involved in research? With UNC as one of the best public research institutions in the nation, we hope that this publication will help other undergraduate students learn about and become involved in the many research opportunities in labs across this campus. Enjoy! ~Ann, Adele, and Lenny

For more information, please email us at: carolina_scientific@unc. edu or visit us online at: http://studentorgs.unc. edu/uncsci

~Ann Liu is a sophomore majoring in Biochemistry and Business.

~Lenny Evans is a sophomore majoring in Physics and Math.

~Adele Ricciardi is a sophomore majoring in Biochemistry and Biology.

Mission Statement: Founded in Spring 2008, Carolina Scientific serves to educate undergraduates by focusing on the exciting innovations in science and current research that are taking place at UNC-CH. Carolina Scientific strives to provide a way for students to discover and express their knowledge of new scientific advances, to encourage students to explore and report on the latest scientific research at UNC-CH, and hopes to educate and inform readers while promoting interest in science and research.

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Contents 4

Alternative Fuel: A Novel, Dual Catalytic Approach to Fuel Reuse     Ann Liu

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Learning to Fly: Digital Evolution     Elizabeth Bergen

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Accurate SHAPE-Directed RNA Structure Determination    Katie Deigan

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The Sweet Science: Steviol Glycosides as Therapeutic Agents      Mary La

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Disruption of Circadian Rhythm May Reduce Cancer Risk     Rebecca Searles

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Joseph Desimone: The Path to PRINTing Nanoparticles     Ann Liu

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Dark Matter: The Cellulite of the Universe     Lenny Evans

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Symplekin: The Amazing Multi-Functional Protein    Ann Mast

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Professor Malcolm Forbes: Free Radical Wizard     Steven Lin

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Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications the Focus of a New Study on Expanded Newborn Screening      Alex Slater Get REAL and HEEL     Adrian Pringle

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International Year of Astronomy     Rebecca Holmes

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Top 10 Questions About Undergraduate Research    The Office of Undergraduate Research

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Undergraduate Research Spotlight: the Beckman Scholars

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Acknowledgements

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Alternative Fuel: A Novel, Dual Catalytic Approach to Fuel Reuse Ann Liu, Staff Writer

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here are many who worry about the dwindling gasoline engines, four to twelve carbons is ideal [5]. supply of petroleum and the negative effects petroleum has on the environment. In response to these concerns, a number of alternative fuels have been developed over the years, including biodiesel, alcohol-based fuels, vegetable oil fuel, and even algae fuel [1]! Essentially, the idea is to take a relatively abundant and environment-friendly material (often some type of biomass) and convert it into a fuel to use instead of petroleum. The methods can be quite elaborate, involving fermentation of sugars, enzymatic breakdown of cellulose derivatives, and catalytic reactions to form the desired product: an alterFigure 1:The first four alkanes native fuel [2]. At UNC, the last type of method was the preferred choice of the Brookhart group, which “Cracking” and Short Alkanes developed an innovative way to synthesize fuel.   Because of this ideal size range for gasoline and diesel, the long hydrocarbons in petroleum must be broken down into smaller molecules in order to be usable [4]. This process is called pyrolysis, or “cracking” [4], and increases the overall amount of gasoline Dr. Maurice that can be obtained from petroleum [5]. One major Brookhart, downside to this process is that a fraction of the long W. R. Kenan, hydrocarbons are broken down into molecules that Jr., Professor of are too small to be useful [6]. But can these short Chemistry alkanes be used somehow, or are they just wasted? Step 1: Dehydrogenation   In 2006, the Brookhart group, in conjunction with the Goldman group of Rutgers University, developed a system involving two catalysts to join the short alkanes, efficiently making use of the side products of pyrolysis. The first type of catalyst is iridium-based and catalyzes alkane dehydrogenation.   In this reaction, the single bond between two carbons is made into a double bond by removing one hydrogen atom from each carbon [3]. (The catalyst actually accepts the two hydrogen atoms.)   The product is an olefin (see Figure 2), which is any hydrocarbon molecule that contains at least one carboncarbon double bond, and is essential in the next step.

Petroleum and Alkanes   Petroleum is mostly made up of alkanes (also known as hydrocarbons), a type of organic compound consisting of only hydrogen and carbon atoms connected by single bonds [3].   Oftentimes though, petroleum will include a range of alkanes, cyclical hydrocarbons, and other impurities. Because of its different components, petroleum can be refined to obtain other fuels such as diesel and gasoline. For diesel engines, linear hydrocarbons containing nine to twenty carbons burn the most efficiently, while alkanes with less than nine carbons do not ignite as easily due to higher volatilities [3]. For

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Carolina Scientific Building Hydrocarbon Chains and Future Work   With this two-step system, after each subsequent cycle, the alkane becomes longer and longer by utilizing short alkane molecules. The catalysts are able to link the short hydrocarbons onto each other Figure 2: Dehydrogenation Reaction (where R is a as an alternate synthesis of gasoline and other types hydrocarbon chain and M is the Ir-catalyst) of fuels. But why isn’t this method more popular? Step 2: Olefin Metathesis   After the olefins are formed from the iridium-based Unfortunately, the reactions proceed extremely catalyst, the second catalyst actually joins the two slowly, which is suspected to be caused by the demolecules. This union of the olefins is a specific reac- composition of the olefin metathesis catalysts [3], tion called olefin metathesis. Specifically, metathesis so the groups are working on developing better refers to the breaking and rearrangement of double catalysts that will withstand decomposition. Nonebonds between two molecules to form new mole- theless, this system is an extremely novel, creative, cules; it is extremely useful because it causes groups and a green technique, and thanks to the Brookhart to switch positions with each other (see Figure 3) [7]. and Goldman group, it will hopefully inspire similar techniques to help solve today’s fuel problem.

~Ann Liu ‘11 is a Biochemistry and Business double major.

Figure 3: Metathesis Reaction (where R is a hydrocarbon chain)

~Special thanks to Dr. Brookhart for his help in the editing process.

*Note: for full mechanism, see ref. 8

  The products of the metathesis is ethene (C2H4, a gas) and an olefin that has nearly doubled in length and now just needs to be reduced back to its alkane form. This is where the iridium-based catalyst from step 1 comes back in; at this point, the catalyst still has two extra hydrogen atoms attached to it. Now, the catalyst reattaches one hydrogen atom to each carbon of the double bond, restoring it back to an alkane (see Figure 4) [3].

Figure 4: Final Step

  The catalyst is also now back in its original state and can be used again in another cycle.

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References:

1. Krauss, Clifford. 2007. Venture Capitalists Want to Put Some Algae in Your Tank. The New York Times. 16 Oct 2008. <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/07/business/07algae.htm>. 2. Rostrup-Nielsen, J.R. Science. 2005. 308(5727):1421-1422. 3. Goldman, Alan S. et al. Science. 2006. 312(5771): 257-261. 4. “Cracking.” 2008. In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved October 16, 2008, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/141550/cracking 5. “Gasoline.” 2008. In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved October 16, 2008, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/226565/gasoline 6. Service, Robert F. Science. 2006. 312(5771): 175. 7. “Robert H. Grubbs.” 2008. In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved October 16, 2008, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1090691/Robert-H-Grubbs. 8. Ahlberg, Per. 2005. Development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis. Advanced Information on the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/2005/adv.html

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Learning to Fly: Digital Evolution Elizabeth Bergen, Staff Writer

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hen humans first tried to fly, they looked to birds for inspiration. Some enterprising souls strapped metal wings to their backs and leaped off hilltops, hoping to flap their way up to the sky. These efforts failed, and we settled instead on a simpler fixedwing design. Today, we are not surprised by the failure of our flapping designs. The animal flight we attempted to mimic is so complicated that even now we do not fully understand how it works.   This is particularly true in the insect world. “We actually have very little understanding of how things fly,” said Alice Robinson, a senior Biology and Physics major working with the moth Manduca sexta in the lab of UNC Department of Biology’s Dr. Ty Hedrick. When it comes to certain types of insect flight, she said, “people are

In 1897, British inventor Percy Pilcher, built ‘The Hawk,” a glider with bird-like wings

like, that’s aerodynamically impossible.”   To answer the question of how moths maneuver in the air, the Hedrick Lab records videos of moths flying in clear plastic cages. Then they write computer algorithms to model these flights digitally. These models will hopefully clarify how moths transport themselves through the air on their fragile, flexible wings.   The first step in creating the

Credit: Alice Robinson

Manduca sexta hovering and feeding from a flower

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models is having software capable of digitizing the video recordings of the moths. When Robinson brings up a moth from the supply room for filming, she places it in a clear box and trains at least two cameras on it from different angles. The modeling computer must consolidate the information from multiple inputs in order to extrapolate the actual position and orientation of the moth’s body.   Imagine a tiny point or bead flying around inside the moth’s clear box. If an observer looks through one side of the box, it seems as if the bead is moving in a twocoordinate system. It may move left or right along the x-axis, or it may move up and down along the y-axis. Of course, because the bead has a three-dimensional area in which to fly, it is also moving towards and away from the observer along the z-axis. Even with the benefit of perspective, though, it is difficult to precisely tell how far the bead is moving along the z-axis.   If the observer moves around to a different side of the box, however, she can look at the coordinate system from a different angle. Now it is easy to distinguish where the bead is on the z-axis. By filming the bead simultaneously with two cameras at right angles to each other, the computer is given the three coordinates it needs to map the bead.


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The simulation uses an anatomic coordinate system XbYbZb with the origin at the moth’s centre of mass, +X in the anterior direction, +Y lateral to the left and +Z upwards [2].

  However, to model how a moth’s body moves when it flies, a computer needs more than one point of information. It would be relatively easy to track, for example, the tip of one antenna. But the Hedrick lab needs an algorithm that can track the location of the antenna and multiple points on the wings and body. In theory, such a program would be easy to write. But in practice, it takes a bit more.   “It’s called a genetic algorithm, and it’s not used in genetics,” Robinson said. “It models genetics.”   The first step is to give the computer a set of equations that it can use to translate the real image data into digital coordinates. Then, a short calibration rod is moved

Alice Robinson setting up a new camera mounting system

around the cage in front of the cameras. The computer tracks the two ends of the rod and attempts to map them. Finally, the program makes a slight change to the variables in its basic equations, and the calibration rod is filmed again. If the new equations give a more accurate depiction of what is happening in the real world, the program keeps the changes. If the new equations are less accurate, it discards them.   It’s the process of natural selection written into a computer program. And like natural selection, it takes a long time to produce useful results. Even though the Hedrick lab has a very powerful computer to run the program, tuning the equations takes a lot of processing capacity. When the program is running, Robinson said, “We can’t do anything else. It just sits by itself and does this.”   But the computer is not selfsufficient. It still needs a little human help, and that’s where Robinson comes in.   “I’m trying to find a way to improve that so we can do it with less error,” she said. “Error comes in because your point that you’re

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looking at is not actually a point, it’s like a bead or something; it has a finite area.” As a result, the camera won’t consistently recognize the same point on the real-world object being filmed, and sometimes Robinson has to tell the computer where to look. “Basically, real image data has inherently got noise in it,” she said. “It produces some error in your solution. So, that’s my current project.”

~ Elizabeth Bergen ‘10 is a Biology major. ~A special thanks to Alice Robinson for her help.

References

1. Interview with Alice K. Robinson. 01/27/09. 2. Hedrick, T.L. and Daniel, T.L.. J. Exp. Biol. 2006. 209. 3114-3130.

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Accurate SHAPE-Directed RNA Structure Determination Katie Deigan, Staff Writer

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ost high school biology books mention RNA in passing, perhaps detailing its function as an intermediate between the DNA genetic code and its protein products. However, RNA is an incredibly versatile molecule, able to carry genetic information and catalyze biological reactions. Among numerous other functions, RNA forms the genome of certain types of viruses (such as the retrovirus HIV) and can even modulate gene expression as a riboswitch. Almost all RNAs fold to form extensive base-paired secondary structures [1], which allow RNA to carry out a diverse array of functions. However, deducing structure-function relationships requires that it be possible to predict RNA secondary structure accurately.

by base pairing or other interactions. In a SHAPE experiment, RNA is treated with an electrophile that reacts selectively, but sparsely, with the 2’-hydroxyl position at conformationally flexible nucleotides to form a 2’-O-adduct. These adducts are detected by primer extension with fluorescently labeled primers and the resultant cDNA library is analyzed with a DNA sequencer. In a SHAPE experiment, the intensity of a peak represents the flexibility of a nucleotide; we quantify this data by integrating under each peak. We then normalize this data so that it falls on a scale from 0 to ~1. Nucleotides with low SHAPE reactivities are likely to be involved in base pairing interactions, and nucleotides with high SHAPE reactivities are almost certainly single-stranded. We sought to redefine the RNA structure prediction probThe RNA Secondary Structure Prediction lem to incorporate quantitative, nucleotide-resolution Problem SHAPE information in concert with thermodynamic   Current RNA structure prediction algorithms em- parameters for RNA folding. ploy thermodynamic constraints to predict an RNA structure and are spectacularly useful for predicting SHAPE Analysis of Ribosomal RNA the structure of small, simple RNAs [2]. However,   In my experiments, total RNA was purified from many interesting and important RNAs in biology E. coli bacteria, equilibrated under conditions that are large and complex molecules, forming helices, stabilize RNA structure, and treated with 1M7, an pseudoknots, and other base-paired structures that electrophilic SHAPE reagent. SHAPE reactivities allow them to function. This increased size and were determined as described above. The process of complexity make RNA structures more difficult to a SHAPE experiment is outlined in Figure 1. predict, and current prediction algorithms are unable   We analyzed 91% of nucleotides in E. coli 16S to predict these structures with high accuracy or con- and 23S rRNA. In many regions, agreement befidence. For example, the program RNAstructure, tween SHAPE reactivities and the secondary strucwhose algorithm is among the best currently available ture determined by comparative sequence analysis is [3], predicts the E. coli 16S ribosomal RNA (1542 essentially perfect. nucleotides) with an accuracy of less than 50% [4].   ΔGSHAPE SHAPE reactivities are inversely correCritically, it is not even possible to determine which lated with the probability that a nucleotide forms a nucleotides are mispredicted. Thus it is difficult, if base pair. We therefore create a pseudo-free energy not impossible, to form robust biological hypotheses change term for RNA folding at nucleotide i as: at this level of accuracy. ΔGSHAPE(i) = m ln[SHAPE reactivity(i) + 1] + b This model has two free parameters, the intercept b Redefining the RNA Secondary Structure and slope m. The intercept is negative and represents Prediction Problem the energy bonus for pairing nucleotides with low   Local nucleotide flexibility can be measured at the SHAPE reactivities. The slope is positive and penalmajority of positions in any RNA by use of SHAPE izes base pairing at nucleotides with high SHAPE re(Selective 2’-Hydroxyl Acylation analyzed by Prim- activities. The ΔGSHAPE term was integrated into the er Extension) chemistry[5]. SHAPE chemistry, a RNA structure prediction program RNAstructure. technology invented in the Weeks lab in the Chemis- However, in order to forward predict RNA structures, try Department at UNC, reports this nucleotide flex- we needed to define the free parameters m and b. The ibility as a quantitative SHAPE reactivity, which re- slope m and intercept b were parameterized against ports the extent to which a nucleotide is constrained 23S rRNA SHAPE data by using the comparative

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4.

2.

5.

3.

Figure 1: A SHAPE experiment

sequence analysis structure as the target structure. In the absence of a ΔGSHAPE term, in which the prediction algorithm incorporates only thermodynamic constraints, base pairs in 23S rRNA are predicted with a sensitivity (number of base pairs correctly predicted) of 72% and a PPV (number of predicted base pairs in the accepted structure) of 60%. As the absolute values of the intercept and slope increase, prediction accuracy improves to produce a large “sweet spot” of parameter values corresponding to ~90% sensitivity.   Use of ΔGSHAPE free energies, by incorporating quantitative, experimental SHAPE information as a pseudo-free energy change term in RNAstructure, dramatically increases the prediction accuracy for E. coli 16S rRNA. Allowing for experimentally supported refolding and when regions for which SHAPE reactivities are clearly incompatible with the comparative structure (i.e., the deproteinized RNA is likely misfolding in solution) or for which no data could be obtained are omitted, sensitivity and PPV are 97% and 95% [4].

We can also use this method to determine the structure of 3 smaller, nonribosomal RNAs almost perfectly [4]. Differences between the SHAPE-directed structures and the accepted target structure are usually small and short range. We find that SHAPE-directed folding also yields excellent results for RNAs whose structure cannot be determined by covariation analysis such as folding intermediates and intact viral genomes.   The simplicity of SHAPE chemistry and the availability of appropriate data analysis tools make this technology amenable to a wide variety of problems. The high level of confidence demonstrated by SHAPE-directed RNA structure determination now makes it possible to analyze many RNA secondary structures that cannot be determined by comparative sequence analysis or that are changing in response to dynamic cellular processes. Such RNAs include authentic viral genomes, intact messenger RNAs, and noncoding RNAs in distinct functional states.

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~Katie Deigan ‘09 is a Chemisty major and winner of the Churchill Scholarship

References

1. Doty, P, et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 1959. 45, 482-499. 2. Mathews, DH, et al. Curr. Protoc. Nucleic Acid Chem. 2007. 11: unit 11.2. 3. Dowell, RD, et al. BMC Bioinformatics. 2004. 5, 71. 4. Deigan, KE, et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 2009. 1, 97-102. 5. Merino, EJ, et al. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2005. 127, 4223-4231.

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The Sweet Science:

Stevioside as a Therapeutic Agent Mary La, Staff Writer

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their potential benefits in the control of hypertension, diabetes, and even cancer.

  Derived from the stevia plant Stevia rebaudiana, rebiana is up to 450 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar) and has enjoyed wide culinary and therapeutic usage for many years, especially in Japan and Paraguay [3], before the FDA gave it its GRAS (generally regarded as safe) status. Rebiana is a member of the steviol glycosides, a class of compounds from the stevia plant composed of a core steviol molecule and sugar components. The two most abundant steviol glycosides in the stevia plant are rebiana and stevioside, though unlike rebiana, stevia extract and stevioside have only been approved as dietary supplements in the U.S. The same compounds have been under evaluation for

Pharmacologic Studies on Rebiana and Stevioside   Rebiana and stevioside share many structural characteristics, with rebiana (see Figure 1) having one more glucose subunit than does stevioside (see Figure 2). Because both compounds exhibit similar adsorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) behaviors in rats and humans, stevioside is often used to evaluate the activity of rebiana in pharmacologic studies, and rats are frequently used as test models to observe the behavior of steviol glycosides in the human body [4].   As with its rival sugar substitutes, rebiana has come under scrutiny for potential ill effects, such as chronic intake toxicity, genotoxicity, carcinogenicity, and teratogenicity (resulting in birth defects). A four-week intake assessment study was completed, in which rats were administered rebiana at 97% purity; a maximum dose level of 9,938 mg/kg body weight (bw) per day in males and 11,728 mg/kg bw per day in females was reported before adverse effects were observed. This dose level is termed “no observed adverse effects level” (NOAEL). The same group completed a thirteen-week study on the same strain of rats and found that the NOAELs for male and female rats were half that of the corresponding levels in the four-week study [5]. A two-year study on rebiana reported an NOEL (no observed effect level) of 600 mg/kg bw per day [6]. These values may be compared with the determined acceptable daily intake (ADI) of stevioside of 5 mg/kg bw per day [4].   To evaluate genotoxicity, assessments of mutation, chromosome alterations, and simple DNA breakage were completed [3]. After evaluation of study, neither in vitro nor in vivo studies (the latter using rats and hamsters) produced evidence of DNA damage from rebiana, stevioside, or steviol (one of the byproducts in the metabolism of steviol glycosides); similarly, stevioside does not display carcinogenic behavior. Rebiana’s teratogenicity was investigated due to its reported use as an oral contraceptive by the Matto Grosso tribes in Paraguay [7]. Though initial studies did find reduced fertility in female rats [8], the stevia extract administered was not standardized or purified. Later short- and long-term studies showed

n December 2008, the FDA permitted the use of rebiana, one of the first naturally occurring sweeteners to be marketed in the U.S., as a food additive [1]. The global rise in the number of cases of obesity and type II diabetes mellitus, in addition to the demand for low-carb and low-sugar diets, has spurred the development of sugar substitutes, to achieve the same sweet taste while avoiding the large caloric value of sucrose and boost in blood glucose levels. Aspartame became one of the first sugar substitutes approved by the FDA in 1981 and was marketed as Equal, NutraSweet, and Canderel. However, concerns regarding potential negative health effects, as well as aspartame’s instability under pH and temperature extremes, caused aspartame to fall out of favor. Sucralose, marketed as Splenda, then entered the market with its preliminary approval by the FDA in 1998. Unlike aspartame, sucralose remains intact at low pH and high temperatures, allowing for its use in sodas, baking, and pasteurization. Between 2003 and 2005, sales of Splenda have increased 126%, while other sugar substitutes saw an 8% decline [2]. Figure 1: The structure of Rebiana. The steviol backbone is highlighted.

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Carolina Scientific (stevioside by 45.0%, steviol by 44.4%, curcumin by 45.1%). The conclusions of this study are promising for the development of steviol glycosides as cancerpreventative compounds [11].

Figure 2: The structure of Stevioside.

no evidence of infertility or birth defects in either male or female rats. Steviol glycosides as Therapeutic Agents   Sweetening effects aside, rebiana and other steviol glycosides are being investigated for their potential therapeutic value. Stevioside stimulates the secretion of insulin [9] and increases the hormone’s sensitivity [10], both of which has important effects for managing type II diabetes mellitus and maintenance of stable blood glucose levels. The compound has exhibited anti-hypertensive effects, as well.   More recently, these steviol glycosides have been linked with preventative activity against cancer, according to collaborative efforts of Mutsuo Kozuka and Kuo-Hsiung Lee of the Natural Products Research Laboratories of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy with three research institutes in Japan. In this study, two mouse models were used to evaluate the efficacy of steviol glycosides in two different types of dosing (topical and oral). To investigate the topical administration of the steviol glycosides, the back of the mouse was shaved, and a known carcinogenic compound (7,12-dimethyl-benz[a] anthracene, DBMA) was applied to the shaved area. Tumor growth was then promoted with biweekly applications of 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13acetate (TPA) to the same area. The steviol glycosides and glycyrrhizin (a known anti-cancer agent derived from licorice root) were applied to separate test mice before application of TPA. Over the course of 20 weeks, the test mice exhibited a marked reduction in tumor size, each of the steviol glycosides showing similar inhibitory effects more potent than that of glycyrrhizin. For example, the application of stevioside reduced the average number of tumors per mouse by 41.3% relative to that of positive control mice, whereas glycyrrhizin effected a 35.0% reduction. A similar mouse model was created using peroxynitrite as the known carcinogenic compound and TPA applied biweekly to encourage tumor growth. Stevioside, steviol, and curcumin (another known anti-cancer compound) were individually administered to test mice. The steviol glycosides caused a significant decrease in the number of tumors per mouse comparable to that of curcumin

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Future studies   Though rebiana and stevioside do appear to show potential as “more natural” sugar substitutes and therapeutic agents, further work remains to be done to investigate the effects of these and related compounds. Most in vivo studies have been completed in mice, rats, or hamsters, and not much data is available regarding human studies. Several evaluations of steviol glycosides have used nonstandardized or non-purified stevia extracts, so drawing conclusive evidence from these studies may be difficult. Many investigations have studied these compounds taken only by mouth and not by other routes (e.g. intravenously). Although currently popularized as sweeteners, rebiana and other steviol glycosides merit further study into their therapeutic properties.

~Mary La ’11 is a Chemistry and Spanish double major.

References

1. “Stevia sweetener gets US FDA go-ahead”. [Online article] Food Navigator – USA. 18 Dec 2008. Available online at <http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Legislation/Stevia-sweetener-gets-US-FDA-go-ahead>. 2. Carney, Beth. “It’s Not All Sweetness for Splenda”. [Online article] Business Week. 19 Jan 2005. Available online at <http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/jan2005/ nf20050119_5391_db014.htm>. 3. Carakostas MC, et al. Food Chem. Toxicol. 2008, 46, S1S10. 4. Chatsudthipong V, et al. Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 2009, 121, 41-54. 5. Curry LL, Roberts A. Food Chem. Toxicol. 2008, 46/7S, S11-S20. 6. Xili L, et al. Food Chem. Toxicol. 2002, 30, 957-965. 7. Kinghorn AD, in Medicinal and Aromatic Plants – Industrial Profiles (Taylor & Francis/CRC Press, 2002). 8. Mazzei-Planas G., Kuc J. Science. 1968, 162, 1007. 9. Jeppensen P.B., et al. Metabolism. 2000, 49, 208-214. 10. Lailerd N., et al. Metabolism. 2004, 53, 101-107. 11. Takasaki M., et al. Bioorg. Med. Chem. 2009, 17, 600-605.

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Disruption of Circadian Rhythm May Reduce Cancer Risk Rebecca Searles, Staff Writer “Our study indicates that interfering with the function of these clock genes in cancer tissue may be an effective way to kill cancer cells.” ~Dr. Aziz Sancar

Credit: http://history.wisc.edu/

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t has long been thought by cancer researchers that the disruption of our bodies’ internal 24-hour clock may predispose humans and mice to cancer. However, a recent study from the lab of Aziz Sancar, M.D., Ph.D, Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the UNC School of Medicine, found disputing evidence. When his lab tinkered with a gene that controls circadian

and more effective approach to chemotherapy for patients with certain types of cancer [1].   Circadian rhythm is the time-keeping mechanism that The Suprachiasmatic nucleus is a tiny cluster of cells controls changes in in the brain that controls the circadian rhythm of all the cells in our body. the physiology and behavior of organisms in a 24-hour cycle. It is oper- However, they discovered instead ated by a molecular clock that ex- that the mice were protected from ists in nearly all human and mice an early onset of cancer and their cells. A brain structure called the median lifespan was extended [1]. suprachiasmatic nucleus directs   Earlier research has shown the cells’ time-keeping. Four es- there is a link between the body’s sential genes control this molecu- circadian rhythm and its health. lar clock, one of which is known One well-known study found that as the Cryptochrome gene [1]. To there was a significantly higher inunderstand the effects of a disrup- cidence of breast cancer in nurses tion in our circadian rhythm, San- who worked the night-shift comcar and his team induced a muta- pared to those who worked the tion in the Cryptochrome gene day-shift. Similarly, flight attenof a mutant strain of mice that is dants whose internal clocks were Aziz Sancar, M.D., Ph.D prone to cancer. Then, by expos- disrupted by transatlantic travel Distinguished Professor at UNC ing the mice to ionizing radiation, also had a high incidence of cancer School of Medicine they stimulated cancer cell growth [2]. These and many other studies in the bodies of the mice. Previous led most researchers to believe rhythm, they found that a mutation studies primed the researchers to that the disruption of the body’s of this gene can actually slow the expect the clock disruption to sen- internal clock may increase the progression of cancer. Their find- sitize the cells to cancer, and in- risk of cancer. ings could suggest an alternative crease the rate of cancer growth.   To further assess the validity

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Carolina Scientific Fig A. (Left) A representative 28-week old p53 mutant mouse with thymic lymphoblastic lymphoma. (Right) Stained tumor cells from a section of the the thymic lymphoma in this mouse [1]. Fig B. (Left) A representative 36-week old p53 mutant mouse whose Cryptochrome gene has been deleted, exhibiting thymic lymphoma as well as an abdominal mass. (Right) Stained tumor cells from a section of the thymic lymphoma from this mouse [1].

of this common belief, Sancar and other researchers conducted an experiment four years ago in which they deleted the Cryptochrome gene in normal mice. They found no increase in the incidence of cancer. Then the team of researchers wanted to know if the deletion of this essential clock gene would accelerate cancer growth in a mouse model that was prone to cancer. So, in their most recent experiment, they replaced otherwise normal mice with the cancerprone, “mutant p53” mice. This

Protein product of Cryptochrome gene

mutant strain of mice is commonly used in cancer studies because the mice have a genetic mutation that makes them more susceptible to cancer growth. The p53 mutation is also present in nearly half of human cancer cases. The results of this study revealed the opposite of what was expected. Instead of speeding up the rate of tumor growth, its progression slowed and the mice lived 50 percent longer [2].   Sancar and his colleagues said the results indicate that altering this particular clock gene in the 50 percent of cancers associated with p53 mutations may slow the progression of these types of cancer, and thereby increase the success rate of remission [2].   By closely examining the cellular processes that underlie this occurrence, the researchers found potential for improving upon traditional forms of chemotherapy. They concluded that the mutation of the Cryptochrome gene reactivates intracellular signals that

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cause cancer cells to commit cell suicide, or apoptosis. The idea behind this new approach to chemotherapy is that by imitating this disruption in the internal clock of the cancer cells, the cells will become more vulnerable to attack by chemotherapeutic drugs [2].  

~Rebecca Searles ‘11 is a Biology major.

References

1. Sancar, A. et al. PNAS. 2009, 106, 2841-2846. 2. Tinkering with the circadian clock can suppress cancer growth. UNC Health Care. 2009. <http://www.unchealthcare. org/site/newsroom/news/2009/January/ sancar/>

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Joseph DeSimone: The Path to PRINTing Nanoparticles Ann Liu, Staff Writer

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n the past year or so, UNC’s Joseph DeSimone has received a lot of press attention after winning the prestigious $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize and being named 2008 Tarheel of the Year. Over the years, his research has evolved and focused on a multitude of topics including the use of supercritical carbon dioxide, the development of biological stents, and most recently, the engineering of a new technology for making nanoparticles. Despite the fact that these areas seem unrelated, they are just a few of the big ideas behind DeSimone’s innovative work in the field of polymer chemistry. What is a polymer?   Polymer chemistry involves the study, synthesis, and application of polymers, large molecules made up of repeating covalently-bonded subunits called monomers. Some of the most well-known naturally occurring polymers include nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. Synthetic polymers, such as nylon and plastics, are just as recognized with important industrial applications. As with almost anything in biology and chemistry, structure determines function, so one of the most important characteristics about a polymer is its structure. Since monomers play an important role in determining structure by dictating the amount of branching in a polymer, a monomer with just two functional groups, for example, can only form linear polymers. On the other hand, additional functional groups provide a point

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for branching and crosslinking (the formation of bonds between chains) [1]. Supercritical CO2 in Polymer Synthesis   The process of linking monomers to form a polymer via an organic reaction is called polymerization. Reaction conditions, such as the type of solvent used and temperature, influence the formation of the desired polymer. Different conditions can often yield completely different products or no product at all.   In the past few decades, DeSimone has investigated the use of supercritical carbon dioxide as a solvent. At room temperature and pressure, CO2 is a gas and cannot be used as a solvent. Instead, once CO2 is at or above its critical point, a temperature of 31.3oC and pressure of 73.8 bar (~74 times atmospheric pressure), it exhibits both liquid-like and gas-like properties. The high pressure forces the particles to be as close together as in a liquid while the high temperature gives the particles enough kinetic energy to act as a gas. Under these conditions, CO2 can dissolve substances while still being able to diffuse through solids [2]. Additionally, with slight changes in temperature or pressure, scientists can drastically change the density, viscosity, and dielectric properties of supercritical CO2, making it “an unusually tunable, versatile, and selective solvent” for scientists to use [3].   Supercritical CO2 has other benefits, especially in the “green”

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Carbon dioxide pressuretemperature phase diagram

world of chemistry. First, CO2 is highly abundant, nontoxic, nonflammable and relatively inexpensive [3]. It can be easily obtained from natural reservoirs or from industrial chemical processes as a by-product [2]. Furthermore, using supercritical CO2 as a solvent is much more energy efficient than using water. To remove lingering traces of water, significant amounts of energy are expended to thoroughly heat and dry the final product. On the other hand, a simple decrease in pressure will revert supercritical CO2 back to its gaseous state, yielding a completely pure final product [2].   As of 2000, supercritical CO2 found its greatest use in fluoropolymer synthesis by replacing harmful chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) solvents [2]. Due to the chemical properties of carbon-fluorine bonds, fluoropolymers such as polytetrafluoroethylene (a.k.a. Teflon) are oil- and water-repellant, with non-stick and friction reducing properties. These characteristics make fluoropolymers


Carolina Scientific mold is removed, and the particles are harvested from the surface. The key to PRINT’s success is the PFPE mold.   First, the PFPE mold allows for the fabrication of discrete particles. Previous methods of particle fabrication (called imprint lithography) use molds incompatible with organic materials, often resulting in mold swelling and distortion. More importantly, these methods form embossed films, particles connected by a residual film. This is caused by significant interactions between the polymer liquid, the surface, and the mold, and further processing is needed to isolate the Illustration of PRINT nano-molding of protein particles. Silicon master template (A); PFPE mold particles. With PRINT, (green) (B); liquid (red)-filled mold (C); liquid is these problems are elimisolidified (D); harvest film (E); filled mold is placed nated. Due to the “nononto harvest film (F); mold release from array of stick” property of PFPE, isolated features (G); dissolution of the harvesting interactions between the film to yield free particles (H). [5] polymer liquid, the surhighly useful. In 1999, DeSimone face, and the mold are minimized. developed an effective method of This forces the liquid into the cavusing supercritical CO2 to synthe- ities of the mold, allowing distinct size perfluoropolyethers (PFPE), particles to be isolated without which serve as high-performance the residual film [4]. Additionally, lubricants and heat-transfer fluids PFPE does not swell from organic [2]. Later, the DeSimone lab came liquids and its physical flexibility to use PFPE as a crucial material allows easier removal of the parused to fabricate nanoparticles. ticles from the mold [6].   Secondly, the PFPE mold can The Development of PRINT yield monodisperse particles, that   In 2005, the DeSimone lab de- is, particles of the same shape and veloped a novel technology called size. Using technology from the Particle Replication in Non-wet- semiconductor industry, scientists ting Templates (PRINT), which etch patterns with great preciprovides rigorous control over sion onto a master silicone wafer, size, shape, and composition in the which serves as a reusable temfabrication of monodisperse nano- plate for the PFPE mold [7]. This particles—a previously impossible allows for such precise control of feat [4]. Essentially, a mold made the nanoparticles’ physical propof PFPE is placed on top of a sur- erties. face covered in polymer liquid. The liquid is then solidified with a Applications of PRINT variety of chemical reactions, the   With the ability to dictate nano-

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particle shape, size, and chemical properties, PRINT has a multitude of applications, specifically in nanomedicine [6]. Currently, the lab is investigating the use of nanoparticles for therapeutic and imaging applications in an attempt to discover how particles are distributed throughout the body based on physical properties like size and shape. By fluorescently tagging various types of particles, scientists can literally watch as the particles move throughout the body and into cells. This will help scientists understand such processes as cellular uptake mechanisms with the ultimate goal of designing effective vectors to deliver medicine. This will have huge implications in many different fields and it is all thanks to DeSimone and his pioneering work here at UNC in the field of polymer chemistry.

~Ann Liu ‘11 is a Biochemistry and Business double major.

References

1. Teegarden, D.M., in Polymer Chemistry (NSTA Press, 2004). 2. Young, J.L. and DeSimone, J.M. Pure Appl. Chem. 2000, 72, 1357–1363. 3. DeSimone, J.M. et al. Science. 2002, 297, 799. 4. Rolland, J.P. et. al. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2005, 127, 10096-10100. 5. Kelly, J.Y. and DeSimone, J.M. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2008, 130, 5438-5439. 6. Gratton, S.E. et al. Accounts of Chem. Research. 2008, 41, 1685-1695 7. Interview with Joseph DeSimone Ph.D. 2/9/09.

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Dark Matter:

The Cellulite of the Universe Lenny Evans, Staff Writer

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n analyzing the movements of celestial bodies, astronomers realized that there was not enough visible mass to account for how fast galaxies rotate and how they clump together into cluster. In order to explain this anomaly, physicists proposed that the missing mass was composed of so-called “dark matter.” Dark matter is “dark” in two ways: it is hard to detect because it does not reflect or give off any light, making it physically dark, and little is known about it other than its gravitational effects, making it conceptually “dark” as well [1]. Dark matter is thought to account for 85% of the matter and 22% of the mass-energy in the universe, where mass is equivalent to energy by Einstein’s famous relation E = mc2 [2]. Detecting dark matter and determining its properties is not only useful for gaining more insight into the motion of objects in outer space, but also for

confirming or refuting current particle physics theories that predict that each known particle type has a more massive twin [3].   The methods by which dark matter interacts with other matter are unclear. Three out of the four fundamental forces have already been eliminated as possible mechanisms. Dark matter cannot interact via the electromagnetic force, since it does not reflect or give off any light. Nor can it interact via the strong nuclear force, which holds protons and neutrons together, because this predicts the existence of exotic nuclei that have never been seen. As the gravitational effects of dark matter are only significant on the scales of galaxies and clusters, not those of particle physics, this leaves interaction via the weak nuclear force, a force responsible for some radioactive decays. Current scientific consensus therefore favors the hypothesis that dark mat-

A pie chart showing the distribution of energy in the universe

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ter is composed of a new, undiscovered, particle dubbed “weakly interacting massive particles” (WIMPs), which may react with other particles via a known weakforce interaction through a particle known as the Z0 boson, or another undiscovered mechanism similar in strength. Simply put, if a WIMP were to come sufficiently close to an atomic nucleus — within a distance equal to a thousandth of the diameter of the nucleus — the dark matter and nucleus would both be “bumped” a small amount. Since the weak nuclear force has such a small range (in fact, the smallest of any of the four fundamental forces) and relatively little strength, a WIMP could go through several light-years of solid lead before interacting with it. These properties make it extremely hard to directly detect dark matter [3].   One of many efforts to do so is the DEAP/CLEAN collaboration, of which UNC is a member. The collaboration is currently working on building a cryogenic detector that will be filled with liquid neon and argon, which scintillate, or create light, when any particle interacts with their atoms. The interior of the cryogenic detector will be lined with photomultiplier tubes, or PMTs, that can detect the individual photons of light given off through interactions of the atoms of the liquid noble gasses and other particles [4].


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If dark matter comes sufficiently close to a neon or argon in its liquid state, it will create a small flash of light.   DEAP/CLEAN plans to use a two-step process for isolating WIMP interactions. First, the number of interactions with nonWIMPs, like electrons, alpha particles, and neutrons, will be reduced as much as possible: those from inside the detector will be minimized through the purification of the liquids involved, while those from outside will be decreased

by surrounding the detector with a massive water shield and placing it two kilometers underground in a nickel mine in Canada. Next, the data collected from the PMTs will be compared to computer simulations run with information about various incident particles. A great part of the work being done by the DEAP/CLEAN group at UNC, headed by Dr. Reyco Henning, centers around the use of these simulations to predict the timing and amount of light output that might be generated through interactions involving WIMPs, as opposed to other types of interactions. This enables further elimination of non-WIMP interactions from the gathered data [4].   Members of the group, which include a post-doctoral scholar and UNC and REU undergraduate students, were also heavily involved in the design of a calibration mechanism for this experiment. By placing radiation sources inside and outside of the detec-

tor and moving them around, the DEAP/CLEAN group can collect information that can be used to determine when and where particles may have interacted within the detector, as well as more information about the timing and amount of light output various particles of various energies will give off in the detector. A great amount of careful engineering is necessary for this mechanism — should the radiation sources fall into the detector, the liquid argon and neon would have to be emptied out and refilled at a high cost.   DEAP/CLEAN plans to operate the detector underground for several years. Interactions are expected to be infrequent — a maximum of two events per year — but data collected from positive results will be able to shed some light on the nature of dark matter [4].

~Lenny ‘11 is a Physics and Mathematics double major. References

A CAD drawing of Mini-CLEAN, one of the DEAP/ CLEAN detectors [5].

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1. Mastbaum, A. miniCLEAN and the Quest for Dark Matter. www.deapclean. org/about. 2. Fuller, G. et al. arXiv. 2007, nuclex/0702031 3. Email with Michael Akashi-Ronquest, Ph.D. 1/8/09. 4. McKinsey, D.N., et al. Nuc. Phys. B. 2007, 173, 152-155. 5. Email with James Nikkel. 4/2/09

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Symplekin:

The Amazing Multi-Function Protein Ann Mast, Staff Writer

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roteins are essential building blocks of our bodies and perform many functions in sustaining life from catalyzing reactions to providing structural support. The processes involved in the conversion of our DNA into proteins are multi-stepped and require the coordination of many different cellular components. The central dogma of molecular biology states that DNA is transcribed into messenger RNA, which is Central then translated into the many Dogma different proteins needed by our body. However, this oversimplified overview often fails to credit the numerous steps and components in this complex assembly line of life. One important player often ignored due to its novelty is the protein, symplekin.   After the transcription of DNA, a strand of messenger RNA is produced and carries the genetic information from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, where amino acids are assembled to form proteins. However, the mRNA in most eukaryotic cells must undergo processing before being transported from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. This processing includes the cleavage of the mRNA, the addition of a series of nucleotide bases (often known as polyadenylation) to the 3’ end, and capping of the 5’ end of the mRNA to prevent the digestion of the transcript once it reaches the cytoplasm [1].   Symplekin has been identified as a key protein in the machinery responsible for the 3’ polyadenylation of mRNA and the 3’-end cleavage of histone pre-mRNA [2]. However, the specific role of symplekin within the complex is still unknown, but much research is being conducted to de-

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termine symplekin’s specific functions. Symplekin is suspected to perform other functions because it has also been identified in other parts of the body in many different types of organisms and cell types; however, just as the function of symplekin in mRNA modification is unknown, the functions of symplekin in these areas also remain unclear. Even though the mechanisms of symplekin in each of the processes are still mysteries, one thing is certain: symplekin is the key to the vitality of cells. Without symplekin, a cell is unable to assemble proteins because mRNA is not modified into useful transcripts. Thus symplekin is of great interest to researchers, who dedicate much time, energy, and money into studies of this protein and its functions.   In molecular biology, understanding the structure of a protein may be the first clue to its specific functions and roles in the body. Proteins are divided into four levels, primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary. The primary structure of the protein is the sequence of amino acids that are linked together by peptide bonds. The different amino acids in the body have different properties, which can differentially form hydrogen bonds. The hydrogen bonds between the amino acids determine the secondary structure of the protein characterized by either alpha helixes or beta sheets. The tertiary structure of the protein can be imagined as the 3-D shape and is determined by a number of factors including the hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties of the amino acids and disulfide bonds formed by the amino acid, cysteine. Multiple units of protein may interact to form a complex, which is known as the quaternary structure [1]. Protein crystallography is an important branch of biochemistry that studies the structure of proteins through forming proteins

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Carolina Scientific into crystals of well arranged structures. The Redinbo lab at UNC is a biochemistry lab that studies molecular structure and functions of various proteins including symplekin. A commonly used technique to determine the structure of a protein is X-ray crystallography. Xrays are electromagnetic radiation that can be scattered by electron clouds of an atom. The diffraction pattern from an assembly of molecules in a crystal allows the determination of the structure of the molecule. The electron density map obtained from the electron scattering by the atFlow Chart of X-ray oms of the molecule crystallography starting from is used to determine crystal and constructing the arrangement of the atomic model through a the atoms in space diffraction pattern and electron [1]. However, to dedensity map. termine the structure of a protein by X-ray crystallography, the purified protein must first be crystallized to have a highly ordered structural arrangement. The first step in this process is to clone the DNA of the protein of interest into a desired model organism and grow this organism in large quantities. The protein of interest is then purified through different methods including affinity columns, gravity columns, and high pressure liquid chromatography.   I have personally worked on the project of the crystallization of symplekin in the Redinbo lab. Knowing the structure of full length symplekin is of great value. However, through various structure prediction servers, it has been predicted that symplekin contains regions of disorder. Due to this, the purification and crystallization of full length symplekin has not been successful. Instead, symplekin was divided into segments to allow easier purification and crystallization. Different constructs of symplekin with special markers were grown in E. coli bacteria cells. Symplekin was extracted by lysing open the cells and running the liquid through an affinity column. Symplekin would bind with the resin of the affinity column due to the special marker, which separates symplekin from oth-

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er proteins. Using different buffers, symplekin can be “knocked off” of the resin and collected. The marker on symplekin can be cleaved with a special enzyme, and can be separated from symplekin by the affinity column through which only the marker would bind but not symplekin.   After a series of purification steps, I obtained purified pieces of symplekin. These purified proteins were then ready to be put through a screen of varying chemicals, also known as the crystallization liquor. Droplets of the solution containing symplekin were hung from the caps of many wells, each containing a variant of the crystallization liquor. Determining the optimal combination of the crystallization liquor is the key in the crystallization process, and from personal experience, it is a process that requires 30% effort and 70% luck. Although science requires precision and patience, sometimes a bit of luck is essential. However, this emphasizes the need for an open mind and acceptance to failure in science. I was successful in crystallizing the piece of symplekin from amino acid 19 to amino acid 271.

Partial Structure of Symplekin.

  The structural information of proteins is important because it gives insight to the functions they perform. This information is vital in the search for cures for diseases and for the development of pharmaceutical drugs.

~Ann Mast ‘10 is a Biology and Asian Studies double major.

References

1. D. Voet, et al. in Biochemistry (JohnWiley & Sons, 2004) 2. Mandel, C. R., et al. Cell Mol Life Science. 2008. 65.1099-1122.

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Carolina Scientific

Professor Malcolm Forbes: Free Radical Wizard Steven Lin, Staff Writer

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y first interaction with Professor Malcolm Forbes was during fall semester of 2007 as I sat in one of the large Chapman lecture halls, wondering why I signed up for early morning organic chemistry. A year and a half later, I sat with Prof. Forbes in his Caudill Laboratories office discussing his organic chemistry research [1].

Dr. Malcolm Forbes Professor of Chemistry

  Prof. Forbes, a physical chemist by training, has specific interests in free radicals and spin chemistry. Free radicals, or simply radicals, have unpaired electrons and are highly reactive. Radicals can be nightmares, causing serious conditions such as skin abnormalities, psychosis, and arthritis. But for the intellectually curious such as Prof. Forbes, they present amazing challenges and open up new

Diatomic chlorine can be turned into two chlorine radicals

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avenues of research. Stable atomic, molecular, and ionic species have all valence shell electrons in pairs. In order to become stable, radicals will combine with other species. If two radicals meet, then the reaction terminates, with the two lone electrons now becoming a pair. However, in the case that a radical meets a neutral species, more radicals can be propagated. This may lead to widespread damage, or if controlled properly, can create certain substances, like polymers. Prof. Forbes’s research in free radical chemistry’s spinoff, spin chemistry, may be less familiar to undergraduate students. It is an interdisciplinary approach to understanding free radical in the context of other chemistry and physics subfields by examining the electron spin effects in reactions.   If students ever walked along the basement of Caudill, they may wonder why the Forbes Lab is always dark. The answer is intellectual outsourcing. At Chapel Hill, Prof. Forbes has focused on reaction-based chemistry rather than examining its products. Last year he downsized his lab, took a semester off from Chapel Hill, and received a Fulbright Scholars award to support himself on an im-

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Novosibirsk, Russia

portant trip to Novosibirsk, Russia. The prestigious Fulbright Scholar Program sends 800 Americans of various disciplines abroad each year, but the sciences have been traditionally underrepresented. He chose Novosibirsk in southern Siberia as a location for his research because it was the location of the International Tomography Center, a leading institution in research on spin chemistry. Professor Forbes also saw huge potential in Russian science, describing its university education as “extremely rigorous.” He strongly believes that research is as much about the scientists as the science. To Prof. Forbes, it is difficult to share ideas without being able to match a piece of academic writing with a familiar face.   His Fulbright proposal, “Mechanistic Studies of Pharmaceutical Photodegradation,” examined product-based chemistry but turned out to be only 10% of his overall work in Russia. Prof. Forbes had always been interested in the fate


Carolina Scientific process. He also pursued other interests such as a molecular explanation for cataract formation and examining the products of radical reactions. In his time away from the laboratory, he gave talks to local students and tried to conBirth control pills found in wastewater are vince the best known to produce cases of intersex fish students in Novosibirsk to purof medicines in the environment. sue education back here at UNC. Prof. Forbes began examining why He is always looking for highly pharmaceutical wastes routinely motivated graduate students who bypass sewage treatment and end are willing to take their motivation up as active ingredients in waste to the next step. streams. Contrary to Pixar’s de  Professor Forbes spent a sigpiction of sewage systems in Findnificant amount of time on a writing Nemo, going down the drain is ing project about spin chemistry. not a smooth journey. A combinaStudents who study spin theory tion of filters, reactors, and aeraand perform lab work face critical tors make certain that substances challenges in understanding conwhich are eventually discharged cepts through only primary literainto streams and rivers are detoxiture. Prof. Forbes hopes to use his fied. (A string of cases a few years research experience to coauthor ago after the release of Finding the first textbook on spin chemisNemo on the big screen saw kids try for beginners. The final prodflushing their pet clownfish down uct will be a small monograph of the toilet, and JWC Environroughly 20 chapters. Though Prof. mental rushed to warn the public Forbes is well rested here back about what actually happens in the in Chapel Hill, he plans on going drains) [2]. While this process is back to Russia in March to comcarefully managed, it is imperfect. plete the book. Birth control pills found in waste  The Fulbright experience is not water are known to produce cases the only thing that makes Prof. of intersex fish [3], and we are still Forbes’s experience unique. He not sure how other waste chemihas a tendency to take science to cals affect the environment. Prof. a whole new level. He previously Forbes considered a variety of isworked a paper titled “Mechanism sues, such as what properties make for Formation of the Lightstruck certain compounds so rugged as to Flavor in Beer” which sparked acasurvive the wastewater treatment

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demic interest in one of the world’s most popular drinks. Though he previously had no interest in researching beer, a 1996 meeting in which he gave a talk in led him to meet Dr. Dennis de Keukelerie, the “Beer King,” [4] who believed Prof. Forbes’s experience working with radicals might propose a solution to the age-old problem of “bad beer.” The documentary film Die Bierkonig (The Beer King) [5] traces Prof. Forbes’s contribution to discovering how the taste of cat piss in aging beer can be avoided. The next time you receive the chance to open that beer bottle, just remember that it is the chemists who ensure your money’s worth.   Prof. Forbes is a delightful individual to talk to about both serious academics and how chemistry can be related to many hobbies in life. He will be returning to Novosibirsk this spring.

~Steven Lin ‘11 is a History major.

References

1. Interview with Malcom D. Forbes, Ph.D. 2/6/09. 2. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,88760,00.html 3. A.C. Johnson, et al. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2004, 38, 3649-3658. 4. http://www.beerandhealth.com/index. php/articles/en/cid=16/aid=272/ 5. Documentary, Die Bierkonig (The Beer King), Belgium, 2004.

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Carolina Scientific

Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications the Focus of a New Study on Expanded Newborn Screening

Alex Slater, Staff Writer

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Image:http://kidneynotes.googlepages.com/dna11.jpg

s part of the Carolina Center for Genome Sciences, the Center for Genomics and Society (CGS) at UNC-Chapel Hill conducts integrated research on the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of large-scale genomic studies. CGS investigators use findings from this research to inform genomic policy, education, and outreach. The CGS operates as an interdisciplinary collaboration of researchers, faculty, staff, trainees, and advisors at UNC-Chapel Hill. The Center was instituted on the premise that: The rapid expansion of large sample gene discovery and disclosure projects raises major ethical, legal, social, and policy challenges, to such an extent that it constitutes a significant and urgent public health need [1].

screening for both full mutation and carrier status. Because fragile X syndrome is an inherited genetic condition, the family members of a newborn diagnosed with FXS must confront unexpected information about their own carrier status. Researchers are interested in determining why many families want this type of newborn screening and the reasons why some families would decide not to have it. Families that agree to participate in this research will take part in a longitudinal study of how the results of the screening affect parent-child relationships and how the family copes with new genetic information [2].

Fragile X Syndrome FXS is a single-gene disorder on the X-chromosome. The code for the FMR-1 gene consists of a repetitive sequence of cytosine and guanine that occurs in CGG triplets. Typically, this triplet occurs The coordination of research, policy, and educa- between 5 and 50 times. However, some individuals tion projects at CGS therefore aims to fill the gap in have an increased number of repetitions that results knowledge about emerging ELSI issues and to de- in either premutation carrier status (50-200 reps) velop new policy-relevant recommendations. or full mutation (affected) FXS status (>200 reps). Both males and females can be premutation carriers Newborn Screening (NBS) or have the disorder. CGG repeats of >200 usually   One of the Center’s core research projects, ELSI result in methylation of the FMR-1 gene, which “siIssues in Expanded Newborn Screening, will study lences” the gene and inhibits production of a protein emerging issues raised by newborn screening for (FMRP) necessary for brain development [3]. fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most common form of inherited intellectual disability. This project connects researchers at RTI International and UNCChapel Hill’s FPG Child Development Institute. This study will be important in terms of answering questions about the future of genetic testing, including what types of information families want to know, what they need to know, and when they may want to learn that genetic information about their child and family. Although no cure currently exists for Location of the FMR-1 Gene on the X-chromosome FXS, previous studies of families of children with FXS have shown that these families want a diagnosis as early as possible and that they support newborn

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Carolina Scientific and benefits of screening for all those involved, inBenefits and Risks of Screening There are numerous potential benefits and risks of cluding the children, their families, and broader sociscreening for FXS. Without early screening, children ety. Researchers will then be able to test the efficacy of genetic counseling models, are not typically diagdevelop and evaluate models nosed with FXS until they for informed decision making are three years, and most (IDM), and develop materials parents agree that getting and approaches to help families a precise diagnosis early understand complex genetic inin their child’s developformation and to communicate ment can greatly reduce that to extended family. levels of stress and frusBy engaging scientists, policy tration that are frequently makers, ethicists, practitioners, part of the “diagnostic and other citizens in discusodyssey.” This knowlsion, researchers will be able to edge also helps them obImage: http://scienceinsociety.northwestern.edu/content/articles/2008/wicklund/road-to-genetic-testing make more precise recommentain services for the child Genetic testing: Proceed with caution! dations for the desired aims and informs them about of newborn screening and the their reproductive risk. However, there are potential disadvantages as well. characteristics of a system needed to achieve those In the research study, screening is being offered on a aims. As study investigators acknowledge: “These volunteer basis with informed consent. If this study issues require careful study and a more intense focus is expanded, the consent process could overwhelm on the processes and materials that enable parents to both families and physicians. The benefits of an early make informed decisions about expanded newborn diagnosis could also be drastically compromised by screening and to become “genetic citizens” who enthe inability of doctors and counselors to completely gage in public debates and help forge policy and remeet families’ emerging needs for information and search agendas” [3]. support. Another concern when screening for an inherited condition is that it could implicate or suggest risk in extended family members. In turn, many parents could find it difficult to accurately and effectively communicate with extended family, thus placing a ~Alex Slater ‘09 is greater responsibility on physicians and enhancing an English major. the need for more concerted resources of information and support. Because screening could identify children with the full mutation who appear phenotypically normal, this could also introduce negative self-concept, social stigmatization, and ultimately insurance or employment discrimination [3]. References Aims of the Study and Solutions With these concerns in mind, the study aims to evaluate strategies for ensuring that the disclosure of genetic information benefits rather than harms individuals and that such information is used in a socially and ethically responsible way. This study will assess the array of potential costs

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1. “The Center For Genomics and Society, About the Center.” http://genomics.unc.edu/genomicsandsociety/html/about_the_ center.html (accessed 23 January 2009). 2. RTI International, “New Study Will Investigate Complex Social, Family Issues Surrounding Newborn Screening” News Release (2008), http://www.rti.org/ news.cfm?nav=423&objectid=09E6B938-B09B-66EF45783E3083E20363 (accessed 27 January 2009). 3. Bailey Jr, D.B., et al. Pediatrics 2008. 121. 693-704.

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Get REAL and HEEL Adrian Pringle, Staff Writer

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hen you agreed to take me into the program I was sad and defeated”, said Maribeth Robb. “I felt isolated and afraid and didn’t see a way to fix myself” [1]. These sentiments as well as others stem from a void left between conventional cancer treatment and subsequent side-effect management. The Get REAL and HEEL program emerges from this void. The aim of researchers Dr. Claudio Battaglini and Dr. Diane Groff is to replace the lost and hopeless thoughts and feelings that result from cancer diagnosis and treatment with the sense of purpose and self-worth of the precancer years. To accomplish this task, Dr. Battaglini and Dr. Groff use a combination of exercise and recreation therapy as a supplement to traditional treatment as well as to combat its side effects [2].   The Get REAL and HEEL program is offered free of charge and is a collaborative effort between the Department of Exercise and

Credit: Get Real and Heel [3]

Sport Science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Each participant is assigned a personal trainer for the five-month training period. The trainer develops an individualized prescriptive exercise plan that is followed three times per week [3]. Improved muscle strength and endurance are only macro fringe benefits of regular exercise. Regular exercise accelerates metabolism which is central in the body’s fight against cancer. A faster metabolism affords the body the ability to utilize medicines more efficiently and breakdown toxins quicker. A heightened metabolism can prolong the patient’s life as well as lessen the likelihood of recurrence.   Recreation therapy sessions are also scheduled to help participants manage emotions and cope with stress [2]. During sessions, the participant’s heart rate is monitored while completing tasks such as

Dr. Diane Groff (right), associate professor in the Exercise and Sport Science Department, leading a biofeedback session with Geraldine King (left).

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The therapy not only includes a physical component, but a recreational component (like basketweaving) as well [3].

deep breathing exercises [3]. The techniques learned during therapy help the participant replace negative emotions such as anxiety and anger with more positive emotions such as joy and happiness. Ultimately, participants gain greater control over their bodies’ physiological responses to stress and this greatly improves their overall health [4].   Currently, there are several studies being completed under the Get REAL and HEEL program. One in particular is a study to determine whether exercise, recreation therapy, or a combination of the two is the best method to lessen the severity of chemotherapy side-effects on breast cancer patients. Participants were randomly assigned into three groups: Exercise only (group A), Recreation Therapy only (group B), and Exercise plus Recreation Therapy (group C) [2]. Researchers observed significant changes in VO2 max, the maximum capacity of an individual’s body to transport and utilize oxygen during exercise, between Group C and Group B [5]. VO2max is usually measured


Carolina Scientific regular stretching routine increase the body’s overall flexibility. This data suggests that the combination of Exercise and Recreation therapy is superior to exercise alone or recreation therapy alone in mitigating some of the side effects of post-cancer treatment in breast cancer survivors [2].   Results from the Get REAL and HEEL program and others like it have a long way to go before they can remove the skepticism of their success from the minds of some physicians [4]. However, the benefits to participants are real and cannot be ignored, especially when Mary Miller, a past participant, exclaims “The Get REAL & Michael King (back), certified exercise and cancer specialist (ACSM), HEAL program has had a PROleading a exercise session with Geraldine King (front). FOUND effect on my life and on my ability to rapidly recover from during a graded exercise test per- to run on the treadmill at a quicker the destructive physical and psyformed on a treadmill and is a pace for a longer period of time chological effects of cancer treathighly accepted measure of an in- than participants from Group B. ment. Participation in this program dividual’s cardiovascular fitness Also, significant changes for over- has FAR exceeded my expectaand maximal aerobic power. Sig- all quality of life were found be- tions and I am extremely grateful nificant changes were also found tween the Group C and the Group to everyone who has had a part in between Group A and Group B for A [5]. Scores tallied from Group making it happen [2].” VO2max [5]. C participants revealed that they   Researchers found significant had a more positive outlook on life changes in muscular endurance, than those from Group A. Finally, fatigue, and overall quality of life significant differences for flexibilbetween Group C and Group B ity were recorded between Group [5]. Group A also showed signifi- C and Group B. Participants from cant changes when compared to Group C were able to reach furGroup B in respect to muscular ther during the standard sit and endurance [5]. In particular, par- reach test than their counterparts ticipants from Group A were able from Group B [5].   Although the results of this study should only be regarded as preliminary, they all seem valid. VO2max increases due to exercise ~Adrian Pringle ‘10 is an Exercise and the addition of deep-breathing and Sport Science major. exercises learned in recreation therapy enhance the effect of ex- References ercise on VO2max. Exercise also 1. Email with Diane Groff Ph.D. increases muscular endurance and 2/27/09. amount of time it takes a muscle 2. Interview with Claudio Battaglini to fatigue. Exercise, biofeedback, Ph.D. and Diane Groff Ph.D. 2/25/09. and other forms of recreation ther- 3. Get REAL and HEEL homepage: apy can offer unparalled piece of http://www.unc.edu/depts/exercise/RTB/ mind and sense of purpose when index.htm combined together. Finally, re- 4. McColm, J. Endeavors. Spring 2007, Past participants have been involved laxation techniques learned in pg. 25-27 recreation therapy along with a 5. Email with Claudio Battaglini Ph.D. in Race for the Cure. [3] 3/11/09.

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Spring 2009, Volume I Issue II


Carolina Scientific

The International Year of Astronomy Rebecca Holmes, Staff Writer

I

f you haven’t heard, 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy, as declared by the United Nations. The goal of declaring an official year for astronomy is not only to promote astrophysics and space science research, but also to try to give everyone in the world a chance to appreciate their place in the universe. If you’re interested in astronomy, science outreach, or both, there will be many local and global activities to get involved with IYA 2009 events and programs this year. I’d like to tell about my personal experience with IYA 2009 so far, and then point to some resources for anyone interested in getting involved.

Credit: IYA 2009 [1]

Spring 2009, Volume I Issue II

  In January, after more than five years of planning, the International Year of Astronomy 2009 was officially opened at a special conference at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris. I was lucky enough to be there to represent NASA and the United States, along with more than a hundred other students visiting from everywhere from Nepal to New Zealand.   On the first morning I woke up early with the other students and took the metro downtown to UNESCO headquarters. I tried to cure my jetlag with some coffee before the speakers began at 9 AM. The director general of UNESCO spoke, followed by Catherine Cesarsky (president of the IAU) and other attending government ministers. All speeches were translated into English and French through headphones available in the seats. After lunch, the real lecture series began. Bob Wilson, an American physicist, spoke about his Nobel prize-winning discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation—the echoes of the Big Bang. Among others, Dr. George Saliba from Columbia University gave an interesting lecture on Islamic astronomy in the 15th and 16th centuries, and Kevin Govender from South Africa gave a riveting talk on the potential of astronomy for uniting mankind and

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Credit: IYA 2009 [1]

encouraging peace.   The next morning, the second day of the opening ceremonies began with a live video-conference with astronomers at the European Very Large Telescope in the mountains of Chile. Then there were lectures on the search for extraterrestrial life and on parallel universes. After a coffee break, there was a talk by—and this was particularly thrilling to me—Jocelyn Bell, who discovered pulsars. She gave an excellent lecture with many entertaining demonstrations. After lunch there were lectures on black holes and the next generation of space telescopes like Hubble. The UNESCO assistant director for natural sciences then made closing remarks. During the rest of the afternoon there were three different remote observing sessions running in parallel—I chose to attend


Carolina Scientific the demonstration of the e-VLBI, a virtual interferometer made up of cooperating radio telescopes all over the world.   I spent the rest of that day and the next exploring Paris with the other international students, which was equally as worthwhile as attending the conference! I got to hear everyone’s great ideas for IYA programs and activities in their home countries. One particularly inspired and ambitious project was created by a student I met from the University of Tehran. Her project, StarPeace, aims to connect the people of nations which share a (possibly unfriendly) border through joint star parties and observing sessions. For example, the Society of the Sun in Pakistan and the Kutch Amateur Astronomy Club in India held an event in February for children of both countries to observe a penumbral lunar eclipse.   Other official IYA 2009 projects include the Galileoscope initiative, a program to deliver inexpensive

Students who attended IYA opening ceremonies and easy to assemble telescopes to anyone interested in looking at the sky. The scopes are high-quality enough to show the craters on the moon and some of the planets of the solar system. There is also a project to promote astronomy in developing countries, a project called She Is An Astronomer to encourage women to pursue careers in astronomy, and a blog called the Cosmic Diary written by professional astronomers to give an idea of what their lives are like.

All these projects are listed at the official IYA 2009 website, http:// www.astronomy2009.org/.   Here in Chapel Hill, watch for IYA 2009 events hosted by the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is also planning monthly IYA 2009 events, and their programming can always be found at the MPSC website [3].

~Rebecca Holmes ‘11 is a Physics major and a Creative Writing minor.

Resources

Part of a long baseline interferometer array.

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1. IYA 2009 General Information: http:// www.astronomy2009.org/ 2. StarPeace: http://www.starpeace.org/ 3. Morehead Planetarium: http://www. moreheadplanetairum.org/

Spring 2009, Volume I Issue II


Carolina Scientific

The Office for Undergraduate Research: Top 10 Questions about Undergraduate Research 1. What is a research university and what are the benefits of attending one? A research university is a complex and interdependent community of individuals who value the intellectual and practical benefits of original inquiry and creative expression. There are also many benefits of contributing to the University’s research mission, including the development of your creative abilities and confidence that you can undertake original work of significance to society. 2. Can any student do undergraduate research? ANY student may choose to do undergraduate research. In fact, students in every major and in every year are ALREADY doing undergraduate research! 3. Why should I consider doing undergraduate research? You will learn to apply what you already know to new issues that interest you, and have the opportunity to influence others. Along the way, you are likely to develop new skills, meet others with similar interests, gain confidence, define your own style, deepen your connections to the Carolina community, and use your experiences to help you choose a future career path. 4. What kinds of research projects have undergraduates done? All kinds! commercial, social, scientific, and artistic entrepreneurship, community-based research… undergraduates from all schools in all majors have undertaken research projects on nearly all continents. To read more about projects conducted by students in particular disciplines, please visit the Past Student Projects section on the OUR website. 5. How can I get involved in doing research at UNC? There are many ways that you might begin. You can enroll in a First Year Seminar or IDST195, “Modes of Inquiry”, which is a seminar designed to introduce you to research in many disciplines. Courses in every major are available to teach particular methodologies and provide opportunities for original investigations. If you like the idea of beginning with a faculty member whom you know and like, you might choose courses with a variety of faculty in your area of interest, read more about what they have done by visiting their websites and finding out more about publications or performances, and then speak to them about your interests. Probably the best place to begin is with students you know who are doing research in an area that interests you. 6. I want to explore my options for research, but I don’t have a specific project in mind. What should I do? Congratulations! It takes courage to try something new, and by deciding to begin, you’ve already accomplished one of the harder steps. Your next steps will involve finding out what is going on at Carolina in your area(s) of interest, and how you can get started. 7. I have a specific idea for a project that I want to do. How can I get started? You will need a faculty advisor, and there are a variety of ways to find one. Start by looking at the OUR database of research opportunities to see if a potential advisor has posted a project description that matches your interests. Talk to peers who have conducted research in this area, graduate student teaching assistants, graduate research consultants, and faculty you know and ask them for recommendations. Faculty research interests are described on their websites, and university librarians can help you identify faculty publications that relate to your interests. 8. Where can I get funding for research? The OUR currently offers three kinds of grants. The first (Undergraduate Research Support) are small awards (up to $750) for those who need essential supplies to go forward with a feasible research project. The second (Undergraduate Travel Awards) are to support those who are presenting their research at professional conferences, or performing at off-campus sites. The third (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships) are major awards (at least $3000) for work during the summer. 9. How can I find out more about the research that faculty are doing, especially those who might mentor me? Departmental websites include links to faculty research interests, and are often organized by sub-disciplines. You might want to talk with faculty and graduate students in your courses and ask for suggestions of other faculty who are working in your areas of interest. The OUR maintains a database of research opportunities posted by faculty and an archive of student projects chosen for SURFs together with the faculty advisors of those projects, as well as an archive of abstracts presented at the annual campus Celebration of Undergraduate Research symposium, including the faculty advisors. All of these resources are searchable by discipline and keyword. The majority of faculty on our campus serve as advisors for undergraduate research projects each year, so your chances of finding a suitable advisor are high. However, not all faculty have openings every semester, so if you can be flexible and persistent, you are most likely to find a suitable faculty advisor. 10. How can the Office for Undergraduate Research help me? The resources of the OUR can help to empower you to take the next step that you need in order to engage in undergraduate research. We hope that all students will use these resources in ways appropriate to their situations and feel welcomed into the communities of performance, scholarship and research that comprise the Carolina campus. We look forward to helping you to pursue topics of your greatest intellectual and creative interests, and to communicate the results through campus symposia, publications, and professional meetings.

Adapted from the OUR Website: http://www.unc.edu/depts/our/top10.html

Spring 2009, Volume I Issue II

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Carolina Scientific

Undergraduate Research Spotlight:

THE BECKMAN SCHOLARS Established by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation in 1997, the Beckman Scholars program selects highly talented and promising undergraduate researchers and funds two summers of full-time research and an academic year of part-time research. Last year, two students, Katie Deigan ‘09 and Sung Taek Kim ‘10 were named as the first Beckman Scholars at UNC. 1. How did you hear about the program and can you describe the application process?    My advisor, Dr. Weeks, e-mailed me regarding the Beckman while I was studying abroad in London. At this point the Beckman was a new program at UNC. With his guidance, I wrote a research proposal for the time period that would be covered by the scholarship. There was an interview when I returned from London a couple of weeks later, which covered everything from my personal background to my potential research and future plans. 2. What was your research experience at the time of your application? How did you find a lab?    At the time of my application, I had been working in the Weeks lab in the chemistry department for 3 semesters and a summer. I had been funded by a SURF over the summer. My first project had nearly come to fruition by this point, and Dr. Weeks and I were beginning to put together the manuscript for publication. I was fortunate in that my path to working in a lab was fairly straightforward. In the spring of my freshman year, I didn’t know what I wanted to major in but I knew I wanted to do research. I looked over the biology and chemistry departments’ research listings and found a few professors whose research interested me. One of them was Dr. Weeks, who happened to be my Chem 21 (Chem 102) professor at the time, and I had spoken with him at office hours and after class on occasion. I emailed him about possible research opportunities, and he invited me to his lab for an interview. 3. What have you gained the most from the Beckman Scholars program? The Beckman’s long-term emphasis has allowed me to focus more intently on and devote more of my time to my research. The travel money has allowed me to present my work at more high-impact conferences – I presented in Berlin last summer at the Annual RNA Society Meeting and will present in New Orleans at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology before graduation. 4. What are you currently working on? I have two main directions right now. I am (i) following up on some exciting results on my work on the RNA secondary structure of the E. coli ribosome in various contexts and (ii) performing some exploratory experiments on a possible probe for RNA tertiary structure. 5. Overall, how has your research experience been? It has been an absolutely amazing experience. I am still astounded at everything that I have been able to accomplish during the last three years. I’m not sure I would have even thought that publishing or presenting in Berlin would be possible as an undergraduate. I’m glad I was wrong. But even more importantly, I’m glad that I’ve found something that I love.

~Katie Deigan ‘09 is a Chemistry major and currently works in the Weeks Lab at UNC. She recently won the 2009-2010 Winston Churchill Scholarship for graduate work at the University of Cambridge in England. To read more about her research, see page 8 of this issue.

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Spring 2009, Volume I Issue II


Carolina Scientific 1. How did you hear about the Beckman Scholars program and can you describe the application process? I actually heard it through my mentor (at the time Sarah Kennedy in the Redinbo Lab). As for the application process, it was very simple and straight forward. A proposal, an interview, a rec, and a few school documents were all that was required then. At first I didn’t know much about the Beckman program until I found out that somebody in my lab had also been a Beckman scholar, which was pretty cool to get to learn about it from a previous scholar. 2. What was your research experience at the time of your application? How did you find a lab? At the time, I had been working in lab for about 7 months or so. Well, my lab is pretty famous for “housing” graduates of the NC School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM). At that time there were about 4 or 5 NCSSM alumni in the lab. 3. What have you gained the most from the Beckman Scholars program? The program requires that I do research for two summers and a school year, where I present during the second summer. After going to the first summer presentation, I learned what was expected of a Beckman scholar. What I took most from the Beckman Scholars Program was the understand of the magnitude of my research and what possibilities it could open up. 4. What are you currently working on? This interview questionnaire, J.K. For Beckman I worked on the protein, TraI, which was a necessary part of bacteria conjugation. When I first joined, my project was to validate if, TraI, had a GTPase domain. Then, I did enzyme kinetics experiments to see how parts of the whole protein behave. However, currently my focus has been shifted toward DevS, which is a mycobacterium tuberculosis signal protein. 5. Overall, how has your research experience been? My research experience has been very thought provoking. I like it because I can think of my own methods for getting the answer; it is like solving a problem in class, just not with paper. One of two drawbacks though is that it is very time consuming. The other is you get attached to what you are doing. I used to feel like the GTPase was mine, because so few people know about it.

~Sung Taek Kim ‘10 is a Chemistry and Biology double major and currently works in UNC’s Redinbo Lab.

NEED MORE INFO ABOUT RESEARCH? 1. Beckman Scholars Program: http://www.beckman-foundation.com/index.html Beckman Scholars receive $16,000 for research in Biology, Chemistry or Physics & Astronomy with an emphasis on interdisciplinary research for two summers ($6,000/summer) and one academic year ($4,000). Students are nominated by their faculty research advisors and selected by a faculty committee. 2. Office for Undergraduate Research General Information: http://www.unc.edu/depts/our/ Established in 1999, the Office for Undergraduate Research seeks to expand the opportunities for undergraduates to engage in research and mentored scholarship at UNC by providing a variety of resources, including financial support, to help students become involved in research.

Spring 2009, Volume I Issue II

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Carolina Scientific

A Special Thanks To Our: Staff Writers

Production Staff

Elizabeth Bergen Katie Deigan Lenny Evans Rebecca Holmes Mary La Steven Lin Ann Liu Ann Mast Adrian Pringle Rebecca Searles Alex Slater

Kelly Bleaking Rachel Bray Natalia Davila Lenny Evans Ann Liu Roger Que Rebecca Searles Alex Slater Edina Wang Deanna Wung

Production Staff (Left to Right): Roger Que, Deanna Wung, Natalia Davila, Rebecca Searles, and Alex Slater. Not pictured here: Kelly Bleaking, Rachel Bray, and Edina Wang.

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Spring 2009, Volume I Issue II


“Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.” ~Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Carolina Scientific Spring 2009 Front Cover: Nanoparticles synthesized by PRINT©, Credit: Dr. Joseph DeSimone This publication was funded at least in part by Student Fees which were appropriated and dispersed by the Student Government at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Spring 2009 Issue  

carolina Undergraduate Magazine UNC-Chapel Hill Spring 2009 Volume I, Issue II

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