Fall 2018

Friday, August 31

Dr. Matthew Kieber-Emmons from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Utah will present a seminar titled “Mechanistic Insight into Water Oxidation with Copper.” Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. Prof. Mike Mock is the host.

Friday, Sept 7

Dr. Sean Roberts  from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Texas -Austin will be here.  Professors Walker and Grumstrup are the hosts. 

Monday,  Sept 10

Ms. Amanda Byer will defend her Ph.D in Biochemistry beginning with a presentation titled "Radical Chemistry - Mechanism and Function in the Radical SAM Superfamily."  Amanda's advisor is Prof. Joan Broderick. 1 pm in the Byker Auditorium.

Friday, Sept 21 

Dr. Gerhard Koenig, Research Associate, Institute for Quantitative Biomedicine, Rutgers University will present “Quantitative predictions of chemical equilibria based on computer simulations”. Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. Prof. Roland Hatzenpichler host.

Friday, Sept 28 - 

Dr. Francisco Asturias, from the School of Medicine, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Colorado will present "Cryo-EM Studies of Transcriptional Regulation by Mediator." Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. Prof. Martin Lawrence host.

Friday, Oct 5- open

Friday, Oct 12

Dr. Tom Autrey, Staff Scientist at PNNL will present "Using calorimetry to understand heterogeneous and homogeneous reactions." Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm.  Prof. Nicholas Stadie is the host.

Abstract: Calorimetry is generally recognized as an experimental technique to obtain thermodynamic data for chemical reactions, however, time dependent measurements of the heat flow can provide additional insight into kinetics of chemical transformation.  Our research has ranged from measuring the kinetics and thermodynamics of reactions of reactive intermediates on a microsecond time scale to reactions that occur over days.  I look forward to sharing how we use time-resolved reaction calorimetry to gain insight into both heterogeneous and homogeneous catalytic transformations on compounds and materials that show promise for energy storage applications.

Friday, Oct 19

Dr. Samuel Gellman from the Dept. of Chemistry at the Univeristy of Wisconsin-Madison will present be "Functional Foldamers." Prof. Mary Cloninger is the host. Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. This seminar is sponsored by the Grieco Distinguished Lectureship Series. 

Monday, Oct 22

Ph.D. Defense from Greg Prussia.  The title of his seminar is "Delineating the determinants of carboxylation in 2-ketopropyl coenzyme M oxidoreductase/carboxylase: A unique CO2-fixing flavoenzyme." 9 am Byker.  Greg is advised by Prof. John Peters.

Friday, Oct 26

Dr. John Kozarich.  Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. Prof. Joan Broderick is the host. 

Interview with Jon Kozarich

Friday, Nov 2

Kevin Hammonds, Assistant Professor in Civil Engeineering at MSU will present "From Avalanches to Ice Sheets: The Material Properties of Snow & Ice."  Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm.


When studied from a materials science perspective, large-scale and naturally-occurring phenomena, such as how an ice sheet viscously deforms or how an avalanche releases, can be understood through laboratory-scale investigations of the thermal and mechanical history of the snow and/or ice and its microstructure.  To derive these microstructural properties, many advanced materials characterization techniques can be employed, including the use of cross-polarized optical microscopy, micro-CT, scanning electron microscopy (including EBSD & EDS), and Raman spectroscopy.  With the application of these techniques combined with relatively small-scale laboratory experiments, many of the peculiar properties of ice and snow can begin to be unraveled.  Presented in this seminar, is an overview of the materials characterization techniques that are currently being applied to snow and ice at MSU, as well as the results from several previous and ongoing laboratory experiments that will further illustrate its many fascinating complexities.  These experiments will include results related to the crystallographic structure of ice, the effects of soluble impurities in ice, and the thermophysical properties of ice/snow interfaces…all of which are critical components for better understanding ice sheets and avalanches in our natural world.

Monday, Nov 5 

Ms. Melodie Machovina will defend her Ph.D in Biochemistry beginning with a presentation titled "Enzymatic strategies for harnessing and controlling the oxidative power of O2." Melodie's research advisor is Prof. Jen DuBois,  ABB 138 at 3 pm.

Friday, Nov 9

Dr. Robert Smith from University of Montana, Dept. of Computing.  Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. Prof. Brian Bothner host. 

Friday, Nov 16

Prof. Cecily Ryan (MSU M&IE) will present a seminar titled “Tailoring the mechanical and electrical properties of biopolymer blends via the incorporation of carbon nanofillers.”


Biobased fillers, such as bio-derived cellulose, lignin byproducts, and biochar, can be used to modify the thermal, mechanical, and electrical properties of polymer composites. We are interested in using char from lignin and agricultural byproducts to enhance the thermal and electrical conductivities in biopolymer composites. Biochar processed from these feedstocks can potentially serve as a bioderived graphitic carbon alternative for certain composite applications. In this work, we investigate a blended biopolymer system, polyhydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyvalerate (PHBV) with polylactide (PLA), to control the partitioning of electrically conductive nanofiller, carbon black (CB) and biochar. CB, a commonly used petroleum-derived functional nanofiller, serves as a comparison for our work on the incorporation of biochar into composites.  Kraft lignin is the feedstock for the biochar. Particulate affinity for the polymer phases affects nanofiller dispersion. I will present surface energy calculations and experimental results for phase-separation and nanofiller phase affinity in this system and how that modifies the percolation behavior in a phase-separated system. I will also show our initial results for electrical conductivity and mechanical behavior of the mixed-phase nanofilled composites.

Monday, Nov 19 

Ms. Danica Walsh (Livinghouse lab) will present her 4th year graduate student research seminar in the Byker Auditorium at 11 am.  The title of her presentation is "Design, Synthesis and Evaluation of Prodrugs to Control Biofilms."

Friday, Nov 30 

Dr. Ohyun Kwon from UCLA.  Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. Prof. Sharon Neufeldt host.

Title: Phosphine Organocatalysis


Soft nucleophilic phosphinocatalysis has been known since the 1960s as a result of the pioneering work of Horner, Price, Rauhut−Currier, and Morita. In the 1990s, Trost and Lu made important discoveries, reporting isomerization, umpolung addition, and [3+2] cycloaddition. Nonetheless, it was not until the 2000s that the area of phosphinocatalysis began to flourish. My group, through careful analysis of the mechanism of the phosphinocatalysis reactions, has demonstrated over two dozen new reactions facilitated by phosphine catalysts. The results are a one-step conversion of simple acyclic starting materials into various carbo- and heterocycles. The practical values of these one-step phosphine-catalyzed annulation processes are significant since (1) they are atom economic and environmentally friendly, and (2) the heterocycles are an immense class of organic compounds with numerous practical applications. One recent, particularly significant advancement is the creation of chiral phosphines that are derived from a natural amino acid, L-hydroxyproline. Their synthetic utility in the phosphine catalyzed annulations, application in total syntheses of (+)-ibophyllidine and (–)-actinophyllic acid, and commercialization will also be discussed. The phosphinocatalysis reactions that my group has developed have produced structurally varied heterocycles of immense value for numerous practical applications. To illustrate the utility of these heterocycles, my group has been engaged in chemical genetic studies, resulting in the identification of the following bio-modulators: (1) inhibitors of the enzymes GGTase‐I and Rab GGTase; (2) an anti-arrhythmic agent (named “efsevin”) to rescue zebrafish tremblor mutant; (3) an inhibitor (named “aplexone”) of cholesterol biosynthesis that is more potent than Pfizer’s Lipitor; (4) compounds inhibiting cell migration and cell invasion; (5) interferon γ‐like compounds that augment innate immune responses of macrophages; (6) inhibitors of cytotoxic T cell lytic granule exocytosis; and (7) inhibitors of serine hydrolases that are specific for platelet-activating factor acetylhydrolases 1b2 and 1b3 (PAFAH1b2/3). Chemical biological studies related with these molecules will be presented during the talk. In addition, recent development in phosphine oxide catalysis research will also be introduced. 

Wedneday, Dec 5

Ms. Elizabeth Corbin will defend her Ph.D. in Biochemistry beginning with a seminar titled "Complexation of Lipids with Cyclodextrin Carriers for Fully Defined Supplementation of Cell Culture." 2 pm in the Byker Auditorium.  Elizabeth works in the laboratory of Professor Ed Dratz.

Friday, Dec 7

Capstone senior seminars for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry will be presented from 1-3 pm in the first floor conference room in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Building. Presenters are Tricia Brandenburg, Daniel Goettlich, Matt Hall, Alex Morren and Alexia Olson. 

Titles of Presentations

Alexia Olson “Agrobacterium tumefaciens/arsenic” Advisor: Valerie Copié

Daniel Goettlich “In situ, high temperature characterization of proton conducting ceramics using Raman spectroscopy”  Advisor: Rob Walker

Tricia Brandenburg “Polyurethane Chemistry and working in industry” Advisor: Alan Cain, Chemline

Matt Hall "Computationally Generated Ionic Liquids."  Advisor: Tim Minton

Friday, Dec 7

Dr. Sergey Pronin from the Department of Chemistry at UC Irvine will present "New methods and Strategies in the Synthesis of Natural Products."  3:10 pm in the Byker. Prof. Tom Livinghouse host.

Tuesday, Dec 11

Mr. Chase Austvold will defend his MS in Biochemistry beginning with a seminar titled "Partitioning of Reactive Oxygen Species via the Re-Oxidation of Electron Transfer Flavoprotein."  Chase is advised by Prof. Ed Dratz. 

Thursday, Dec 13

Fourth year Graduate Student Seminar

Ms. Ece Topuzlu, Department Chemistry & Biochemistry, Montana State University

Title: Biophysical and Surface Characterization of Plastic Degrading Polyesterases

Abstract: Recalcitrance to natural degradation of synthetic plastics such as poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) is problematic in the world’s ecosystems. Several cutinases isolated from fungal species have been shown to enzymatically degrade PET to a limited extent. The discovery of Ideonella sakaiensis, and its ability to grow on PET as a major carbon source has led to the identification of two of the key enzymes responsible for hydrolysis of PET. These enzymes, named PETase and MHETase, act in a concerted manner to convert PET into its monomers and building blocks, respectively. This seminar will highlight the enzymatic capabilities of PETase on industrially relevant substrates, its localization in cells in vivo, and its synergistic activity with MHETase for PET degradation.

12 noon in the Byker.  Ece is in the lab of Professor Valérie Copié