Chemistry / Biochemistry
Contact
Department Chair:
Michael W. Nee

Administrative Assistant:
Patricia West, A263

Department Email:


Phone: (440) 775-8300
Fax: (440) 775-6682

Location:
Science Center A263
119 Woodland St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Office Hours: 8:30-noon 1:00-5:00pm

Winter Term 2010 Student Research

Winter Term 2010 Student Research

Ben Altheimer '12,  Greensboro, NC
Advisor:
Manish Mehta

Research Project: "Crystal Growth Studies of Alanine- and Glycine-Containing Peptides forDiffraction Studies"

Description: We are interested in the spectral signatures of weak hydrogen bonds in the crystalline states of small proteins. The Mehta Lab has investigated the three-dimensional structure of di- and Tripeptides containing the amino acids alanine and glycine. Three of these peptides (Ala-Gly-Gly, Ala-Ala-Gly, Ala-Ala-Ala) show unusual hydrogen bonding patterns in their crystal structures, as revealed by x-ray diffraction. In order to pinpoint the location of the hydrogen atoms implicated in the weak hydrogen bonds, we intend to perform neutron diffraction experiments at the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France. We have spent this winter term attempting to grow crystals of two of the three peptides above and also begun to canvass crystallizing conditions to isolate new crystal structures of short peptides co-crystallized with denaturing agents, such as guanidine hydrochloride and urea.

Other Interests: physics, math, climbing, hiking, the great outdoors 


Amy Austin '11  Litchfield, CT

Advisor: Rebecca Whelan

Research Project: Characterization of the Uropygial Secretions of the Gray Catbird

This project is an ongoing collaboration with Professor Mary Garvin of the Oberlin Biology Department.   The uropygial gland produces secretions that birds distribute over their feathers during preening. We are interested in studying the uropygial secretions of the gray catbird because of the importance of this widely distributed species in the West Nile virus cycle; volatiles in the secretions may mediate interactions with mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus. We have begun to document how the gray catbird’s uropygial secretion composition changes with age, diet, breeding hormones, and migratory disposition; such variation has been documented in other bird species as well. During Summer 2009, members of the Whelan and Garvin labs collected uropygial secretion samples from nearly 150 wild gray catbirds. The volatile fraction of these samples was analyzed using solid phase microextraction sampling followed by gas chromatography-masss spectrometry (GC-MS).



Adam Birdsall '13, Roseville, MN      Advisor:  Matthew Elrod

Research Project:  Mechanistic Studies of the Atmospheric Oxidation of Aromatics

Description:  Aromatic compounds make up roughly one quarter of the atmosphere’s organic inventory.  It is well known that the oxidation of aromatic compounds leads to the formation of both ground level ozone and visibility-impairing aerosols (smog). However, the specific oxidation mechanisms are not well known.  We have undertaken studies of mechanism of the oxidation of several atmospherically abundant aromatic compounds.  We are carrying out product identification and kinetics experiments that are performed using the Turbulent Flow Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometric (TF-CIMS) kinetics technique.

Other Interests:  Devouring large quantities of music, drinking tea, enjoying silent film comedies, playing piano and racquetball (not simultaneously) reading, running.

 

 


Christopher Chu '11, Chicago, IL      Advisor:  William Fuchsman

Research Project:  Optimum Reaction Times for a Reducing Sugar AssayDescription:  The behavior of reducing sugar assays is affected by the structures of reducing sugars in ways that are inconsistent with the conventional wisdom about  what happens to reducing sugars in the presence of oxidizing agents.  We are refining a reducing sugar assay that involves ferricyanide as oxidizing agent by determining the optimum times of reaction for different sugars

Other Interests: Anime, ping-pong, magic tricks, and general mischievousness

 

 

 

 

 


Liv Dedon '12, Boston, MA      Advisor:  Jesse Rowsell

Research Project:  material with unknown composition or connectivity. The starting point for such an analysis is the crystallizatiChemical CrystallographyDescription:  Crystallographic structure analysis is inarguably the best technique for (a) confirming the proposed bonding scheme within a targeted molecule or network solid, and (b) resolving the atomic details of aon of an ordered array of the molecule or building block of interest. Complete structure determination can be performed from a sample as minute as a grain of sand.

Other Interests:  I like to ride horses and cook

 

 

 

 


Clay Easterday '11, Chardon, OH      Advisor:  Norman Craig

Research Project:  "Analysis of the Rotational Structure in an A-Type Band in the High-Resolution Infrared Spectrum of cis,cis-1,4-Difluorobutadiene-2-d1"

Description:  The overall goal is to obtain semi-experimental equilibrium structures for the cis,cis and trans,trans isomers of 1,4-difluorobutadiene and to assess the impact of fluorine substitution on CC bond lengths. We have been synthesizing needed isotopomers and analyzing the rotational structure in high-resolution (0.0013 cm-1) infrared spectra. An A-type band in the infrared spectrum of cis,cis-1,4-difluorobutadiene-2-d1 centered 865.8 cm-1 has proved analyzable with a starting point of predictions made from the prior analysis of a C-type band at 709.1 cm-1. Progress is also being made on synthesizing the 1-d1 species from the exchange of FHC=CH2 into FDC=CH2 with strongly basic D2O at 125°C.

Other Interests:  Sleeping, peanut butter, tree climbing, science fiction, irony, world domination, singing in the rain, fancy words and keto-enol tautomerization.

 


Rachel Eaton '13, Portland, OR
Advisor:
  William Fuchsman

Research Project:  The Effects of Differences in Reducing Sugar Structures on a Reducing Sugar Assay

Description:  The behavior of reducing sugar assays is affected by the structures of reducing sugars in ways that are inconsistent with the conventional wisdom about  what happens to reducing sugars in the presence of oxidizing agents.  We are refining a reducing sugar assay that involves dinitrosalicylate as oxidizing agent by determining the optimum times of reaction for different sugars and then using the appropriate reaction times to examine the effects of reducing sugar structures on the assay

Other Interests:  Oldies (like movies and music), Goodies (like chocolate), and general merriment of life .

 


Micah Ellowitz  '12, El Passo, TX      Advisor:  Jason Belitsky

Research Project:  Melanin-Inspired Lead-Binding Coatings IIDescription:  While “melanin” is a well-known biochemical entity among the general public, scientists know surprisingly little about the fundamental biochemistry of melanins.  Nevertheless, what is known about these fascinating nano-structured pigments suggests a range of non-biological applications.  The Belitsky lab is interested in exploring the properties of melanins and synthetic analogs both to understand fundamental melanin biochemistry and to exploit these properties for environmental applications.  For example, eumelanin, the black to brown human pigment, is known to bind a wide range of metals and organic compounds, suggesting applications in water purification.

Other Interests:  backpacking, squash, eating chem office candy, turning assignments in late, sleeping on couches, hanging with the gorgeous Erin Alcorn.

 

 


Jamie Flynn '11, Warren Twp, NJ      Advisor:  William Fuchsman

Research Project:  The Effects of Differences in Reducing Sugar Structures on a Reducing Sugar AssayDescription:  The behavior of reducing sugar assays is affected by the structures of reducing sugars in ways that are inconsistent with the conventional wisdom about  what happens to reducing sugars in the presence of oxidizing agents.  We are examining the effects of reducing sugar structures on a reducing sugar assay that involves the formation of dihydrazones from the sugars.

Other Interests:  going to see bands, my cats, cooking, photography and working in EMS.

 

 

 

 


Kaitlyn Gam  '10   San Francisco. CA      Advisor:  William Fuchsman

Research Project:  NAD(P)H Oxidation by Oxygen in the Absence of Protein Catalysts

Description:  Examining the pH-dependency of the oxidation of the biological reducing agent NADH by oxygen in the air in the absence of any protein catalysts.

Other Interests:  cooking,  open water swimming, and peer health education.

 

 

 

 


Josh Greenfield  '11   Toledo, OH      Advisor:  Jesse Rowsell

Research Project:  Chemical Crystallography

Description:  Crystallographic structure analysis is inarguably the best technique for (a) confirming the proposed bonding scheme within a targeted molecule or network solid, and (b) resolving the atomic details of a material with unknown composition or connectivity. The starting point for such an analysis is the crystallization of an ordered array of the molecule or building block of interest. Complete structure determination can be performed from a sample as minute as a grain of sand.

Other Interests:  loves circus arts, bird watching/nature hiking, and photography

 

 

 

 


Amy Huang  '13   Westlake, OH      Advisor:  William Fuchsman

Research Project:  The Effects of Differences in Reducing Sugar Structures on a Reducing Sugar Assay

Description:  The behavior of reducing sugar assays is affected by the structures of reducing sugars in ways that are inconsistent with the conventional wisdom about  what happens to reducing sugars in the presence of oxidizing agents.  We are refining a reducing sugar assay that involves dinitrosalicylate as oxidizing agent by determining the optimum times of reaction for different sugars and then using the appropriate reaction times to examine the effects of reducing sugar structures on the assay

Other Interests:  Cooking, biking, laughing

 

 

 


Nathanial Kadunce  '11   Beaver, PA      Advisor:  Jason Belitsky

Research Project:  Synthesis of Indole Oligomers Related to Melanin

Description:  While “melanin” is a well-known biochemical entity among the general public, scientists know surprisingly little about the fundamental biochemistry of melanins.  Even the most basic details, such as the chemical structures of melanins, are uncertain.  Nevertheless melanins have fascinating chemical properties distinct from their roles as pigments, which may influence their biology and could be exploited for non-biological applications.  For example, eumelanin, the black to brown human pigment, is known to bind a wide range of metals and organic compounds, suggesting applications in water purification.  Eumelanin is thought to be composed of heterogeneous oligomers of dihydroxyindoles that self-assemble into nano-structured aggregates.  We are developing synthetic chemistry routes to well-defined dihydroxyindole oligomers in order to study this self-assembly process.  This will help us understand the structure of natural eumelanin, and gain insight into how that structure affects its biological properties and potential environmental applications.

Other Interests:  I like tennis, cook, hang out with people, read, and drink coffee.

 


Alexander Kilbo  '11   Maplewood, MN      Advisor:  William Fuchsman

Research Project:  Optimum Reaction Times for a Reducing Sugar Assay

Description:  The behavior of reducing sugar assays is affected by the structures of reducing sugars in ways that are inconsistent with the conventional wisdom about  what happens to reducing sugars in the presence of oxidizing agents.  We are refining a reducing sugar assay that involves ferricyanide as oxidizing agent by determining the optimum times of reaction for different sugars

Other Interests:  I'm part of the Oberlin Club Soccer team the Albino Squirrels, I'm also a big fan of tennis and snow, but not together.

 

 

 

 


Yuhua Lu  '12   Suzhou, China      Advisor:  William Fuchsman

Research Project:  The Effects of Differences in Reducing Sugar Structures on a Reducing Sugar Assay

Description:  The behavior of reducing sugar assays is affected by the structures of reducing sugars in ways that are inconsistent with the conventional wisdom about  what happens to reducing sugars in the presence of oxidizing agents.  We are refining a reducing sugar assay that involves dinitrosalicylate as oxidizing agent by determining the optimum times of reaction for different sugars and then using the appropriate reaction times to examine the effects of reducing sugar structures on the assay

Other Interests:  Playing chess, go. other board games and playing the piano. Performing magic tricks and wil be teaching a magic trick exco.

 


Diane Lye  '11   Singapore, Singapore      Advisor:  William Fuchsman

Research Project:  The Effects of Differences in Reducing Sugar Structures on a Reducing Sugar Assay

Description:  The behavior of reducing sugar assays is affected by the structures of reducing sugars in ways that are inconsistent with the conventional wisdom about  what happens to reducing sugars in the presence of oxidizing agents.  We are refining a reducing sugar assay that involves dinitrosalicylate as oxidizing agent by determining the optimum times of reaction for different sugars and then using the appropriate reaction times to examine the effects of reducing sugar structures on the assay

Other Interests:  Piano, Music Theory, Classic and Japanese Rock, Good British literature of the 19th Century, Banking systems


Melanie Malinas  '13   Reno, NV      Advisor:  William Fuchsman

Research Project:  The Effects of Differences in Reducing Sugar Structures on a Reducing Sugar Assay

Description:  The behavior of reducing sugar assays is affected by the structures of reducing sugars in ways that are inconsistent with the conventional wisdom about  what happens to reducing sugars in the presence of oxidizing agents.  We are refining a reducing sugar assay that involves dinitrosalicylate as oxidizing agent by determining the optimum times of reaction for different sugars and then using the appropriate reaction times to examine the effects of reducing sugar structures on the assay

Other Interests:  Reading, music, performing, playing Scrabble, skiing and watching movies.

 

 


Nicholas Miller  '13   Grafton, OH      Advisor:  William Fuchsman

Research Project:  The Effects of Differences in Reducing Sugar Structures on a Reducing Sugar Assay

Description:  The behavior of reducing sugar assays is affected by the structures of reducing sugars in ways that are inconsistent with the conventional wisdom about  what happens to reducing sugars in the presence of oxidizing agents.  We are refining a reducing sugar assay that involves dinitrosalicylate as oxidizing agent by determining the optimum times of reaction for different sugars and then using the appropriate reaction times to examine the effects of reducing sugar structures on the assay

Other Interests:  playing baseball

 

 


Christine Moore  '11   Burke, VA      Advisor:  Jason Belitsky

Research Project:  Melanin-Inspired Lead-Binding Coatings I

Description:  While “melanin” is a well-known biochemical entity among the general public, scientists know surprisingly little about the fundamental biochemistry of melanins.  Nevertheless, what is known about these fascinating nano-structured pigments suggests a range of non-biological applications.  The Belitsky lab is interested in exploring the properties of melanins and synthetic analogs both to understand fundamental melanin biochemistry and to exploit these properties for environmental applications.  For example, eumelanin, the black to brown human pigment, is known to bind a wide range of metals and organic compounds, suggesting applications in water purification.

Other Interests:  mathematics, medicine, Spanish, cross country, track, reading, walking, biking, hanging out with friends, cooking-especially ice cream, and doing stuff with my younger sister

 


Olive Nwosu  '13   Lagos Nigeria      Advisor:  William Fuchsman

Research Project:  The Effects of Differences in Reducing Sugar Structures on a Reducing Sugar Assay

Description:  The behavior of reducing sugar assays is affected by the structures of reducing sugars in ways that are inconsistent with the conventional wisdom about  what happens to reducing sugars in the presence of oxidizing agents.  We are refining a reducing sugar assay that involves dinitrosalicylate as oxidizing agent by determining the optimum times of reaction for different sugars and then using the appropriate reaction times to examine the effects of reducing sugar structures on the assay

Other Interests:  Film, writing, calligraphy, tennis, soccer, politics, tetris

 

 


Alison O'Connor  '12   Shaker Heights, OH      Advisor:  Matthew Elrod

Research Project:  Synthesis and Acid-Catalyzed Reactions of Epoxides in Atmospheric Aerosols

Description:  Atmospheric aerosols (particles small enough to remain airborne) have an important effect on air quality and climate through their ability to scatter and absorb radiation and to serve as nuclei for cloud formation.  It is now well known that these aerosols have significant organic content, despite the fact that most organic compounds in the atmosphere are expected to be too volatile to readily form condensed phase compounds.  The conversion of smaller more volatile organic compounds into larger less volatile compounds via acid-catalyzed reactions has been proposed to explain this seeming contradiction.  We have been investigating the conversion of epoxides (intermediates in the atmospheric oxidation of volatile organic compounds) to involatile species.

Other Interests:  Baking vegan goodies, tap dancing, and Joss Whedon shows


Naomi Onsongo  '12   Nairobi, Kenya      Advisor:  William Fuchsman

Research Project:  The Effects of Differences in Reducing Sugar Structures on a Reducing Sugar Assay

Description:  The behavior of reducing sugar assays is affected by the structures of reducing sugars in ways that are inconsistent with the conventional wisdom about  what happens to reducing sugars in the presence of oxidizing agents.  We are examining the effects of reducing sugar structures on a reducing sugar assay that involves the formation of dihydrazones from the sugars.

Other Interests:  Dancing, singing, shopping, travelling

 

 

 

 


John Paddock  '12   Harrison Twp, MI      Advisor:  William Fuchsman

Research Project:  NAD(P)H Oxidation by Oxygen in the Absence of Protein Catalysts

Description:  Examining the pH-dependency of the oxidation of the biological reducing agent NADH by oxygen in the air in the absence of any protein catalysts.

Other Interests:  Reading, languages, Japanese culture, American Indian music, piano, violin, world traveling, Irish dancing and music, fencing.

 

 

 


Clara Shaw '10  Rosevill, MN

Advisor: Rebecca Whelan

Research Project: Characterization of the uropygial secretions of the gray catbird

This project continues a collaboration with Professor Mary Garvin of the Oberlin Biology Department. The uropygial gland produces secretions that birds distribute over their feathers during preening. We are interested in studying the uropygial secretions of the gray catbird because of the importance of this widely distributed species in the West Nile virus cycle; volatiles in the secretions may mediate interactions with mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus. It is unknown how the gray catbird’s uropygial secretion composition changes with age, diet, breeding hormones, and migratory disposition, although such variation has been documented in other bird species.

Other Interests: running, reading, baking muffins, playing with cute animals


Sophie Toraby  '11   Cos Cob, CT      Advisor:  Rebecca Whelan

Research Project:  Selection of an aptamer that recognizes a CA 125 epitope

Description:  The selective detection of biomolecules in serum is an important tool for basic research and clinical applications. Traditionally, such assays have relied on antibody molecules as the basis of detection. In this project we will explore a relatively new class of affinity molecules—aptamers—and develop analytical assays that exploit their unique advantages. Aptamers are single-stranded nucleic acid molecules with recognition ability comparable to antibodies. The process of aptamer selection begins with a large random pool of oligonucleotides. The oligos are allowed to interact with the target protein of interest, and those that bind well to the target are separated from those that do not. Good binders are amplified by polymerase chain reaction, and the cycle of selection and amplification continues until the pool converges on a small number of excellent binders.

Other Interests:  enjoy knitting, minesweeper and procrastination, singing, dancing, skiing, frisbee, cuddling, sleeping in the sunshine, and long walks on the beach.


Sam Towne  '12   Kempton, PA      Advisor:  William Fuchsman

Research Project:  The Effects of Differences in Reducing Sugar Structures on a Reducing Sugar Assay

Description:  The behavior of reducing sugar assays is affected by the structures of reducing sugars in ways that are inconsistent with the conventional wisdom about  what happens to reducing sugars in the presence of oxidizing agents.  We are refining a reducing sugar assay that involves dinitrosalicylate as oxidizing agent by determining the optimum times of reaction for different sugars and then using the appropriate reaction times to examine the effects of reducing sugar structures on the assay

Other Interests:  Playing and watching tennis, reading, doing crossword puzzles, listening to music, singing, playing the piano, and playing the oboe. Outside accademic interests is medicine, and economics.

 


Chimela Ubagharaji  '12   Chicago, IL      Advisor:  William Fuchsman

Research Project:  The Effects of Differences in Reducing Sugar Structures on a Reducing Sugar Assay

Description:  The behavior of reducing sugar assays is affected by the structures of reducing sugars in ways that are inconsistent with the conventional wisdom about  what happens to reducing sugars in the presence of oxidizing agents.  We are refining a reducing sugar assay that involves dinitrosalicylate as oxidizing agent by determining the optimum times of reaction for different sugars and then using the appropriate reaction times to examine the effects of reducing sugar structures on the assay

Other Interests:  music, movies, laughing, learning, fun, sports, reading, cooking, making things.

 

 


Inyang Uno-Inyang  '12   Lagos, Nigeria      Advisor:  William Fuchsman

Research Project:  The Effects of Differences in Reducing Sugar Structures on a Reducing Sugar Assay

Description:  The behavior of reducing sugar assays is affected by the structures of reducing sugars in ways that are inconsistent with the conventional wisdom about  what happens to reducing sugars in the presence of oxidizing agents.  We are refining a reducing sugar assay that involves dinitrosalicylate as oxidizing agent by determining the optimum times of reaction for different sugars and then using the appropriate reaction times to examine the effects of reducing sugar structures on the assay

Other Interests:  Soccer, Track and Field, Lebron James, Real Madrid, Community Service

 

 


Herman van Besien  '10   Chicago, IL      Advisor:  William Fuchsman

Research Project:  The Effects of Differences in Reducing Sugar Structures on a Reducing Sugar Assay

Description:  The behavior of reducing sugar assays is affected by the structures of reducing sugars in ways that are inconsistent with the conventional wisdom about  what happens to reducing sugars in the presence of oxidizing agents.  We are refining a reducing sugar assay that involves dinitrosalicylate as oxidizing agent by determining the optimum times of reaction for different sugars and then using the appropriate reaction times to examine the effects of reducing sugar structures on the assay

Interests: I like to read novels. My hobbies include playing tennis, trying (and failing) to learn Korean, and playing the piano.