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Chemistry News Archives

[current news]
  • The Department congratulates the graduate student winners of competitive departmental fellowships for the 2006-2007 academic year. This year's winners and the sources of their support include:

    Charles Bradsher Endowment
    Marc Adler
    Parag Mukhopadhyah

    Joe Taylor Adams Fellowship
    Yu Du

    Paul Mangus Gross Fellowship
    Yu Du
    Yongcheng Ying
    Jeff Rubino

    William Krigbaum Fellowship
    Chad Ray

    Burroughs Welcome Fellowship
    Katie Ciesienski
    Zhibin Zhang
    Yuan Dai
    Erin Wilfong
    Guoqiang Zhou
    Mariam Sharaf
    Yu Du

    CR Hauser Fellowship
    Julianne Yost
    David Loveless
    Katherine Weaver
    Petra Roulhac
    Marc Adler

    Kathleen Zielek Fellowship
    Senli Guo
    Charlotta Wennefors
    Laura Moussa
    Chad Ray

    Hobbs Chemistry Endowment Award
    Liangjie Tang

    John Herbert Pearson Award
    Marc Adler
    Kassy Mies
    Lou Charkoudian
    Katheryn Haas
    Jared Heymann

  • Six Chemistry majors have been recently initiated into Phi Beta Kappa. The department congratulates them all on their accomplishments. The inductees are: Drew Schwartz, Evan Sherman, Feng Su, Vaibhav Upadhyay, Felicia Walton, and Devina Luhur.
  • The Chemistry Department Holiday Party will take place on December 9, from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. in the P. M. Gross lobby. All are welcome to come early at noon to watch the Duke-George Mason basketball game on the big screen in Room 107!
  • Felicia Walton, who majors in both Biology and Chemistry at Duke, has won a prestigious Marshall Scholarship, through which she plans to study cell division in mammalian cells at the University of Cambridge. Congratulations to Felicia!
  • Graduate applications to the Ph.D. program are now being accepted. Visit our website to learn more about the department , the Ph.D. program, or to get answers to frequently asked questions.
  • New Leadership Workshops will be offered as a three-part series for all interested graduate students. The workshops will take place this spring, and they are designed to help participants develop collaborative relationships, contribute to an innovative research environment, and broaden scientific influence. Click here for schedules and more information.
  • Chemistry Colleague and Nobel Laureate Peter Agre offered to trade his Chemistry Nobel Prize for two week's control of the "Colbert Report" on the October 19 edition of the show that airs on Comedy Central. Colbert declined Agre's offer. See clips at:
  • In a collaborative project with researchers at the National Research Council in Italy, the Duke Free Electron Laser Laboratory and NCSU, the Simon group has reported on the structural morphology of human neuromelanin in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A press release describing the work is available online.
  • Thom LaBean has been awarded a National Science Foundation grant of $149,999 over 3 years for a project entitled "IRES: U.S.-Danish Cooperative Research and Education in DNA Nanotechnology". The program is designed to provide International Research Experiences for US Students at all levels (high school through post-doc). The project will further a collaboration with Kurt Gothelf's group in the iNANO Center at Aarhus University.
  • Graduate student Julianne Yost of the Coltart Group has received an American Foundation for Aging Research-GlaxoSmithKline Foundation Award to support her continued work on the development of small molecule inhibitors of Cdc25 phosphatase. Congratulations Julianne!
  • New Leadership Workshops will be offered as a three-part series for all interested graduate students. The workshops will take place this spring, and they are designed to help participants develop collaborative relationships, contribute to an innovative research environment, and broaden scientific influence. Click here for schedules and more information.
  • "Writing in Chemistry", a four-part workshop series designed for second-year graduate students, will be offered again this fall. The workshop will help students prepare for their research progress reports as part of their spring preliminary exams. Click here for more information.
  • Prof. Ross Widenhoefer has been awarded a three-year, $210,000 Focused Giving Grant by Johnson & Johnson to support his work on the development of new transition metal-catalyzed routes to medicinally important heterocyclic compounds. The Johnson & Johnson Focused Giving Program, established in 1980, has provided more than $50,000,000 to stimulate fundamental research in the biomedical sciences.
  • The Chemistry Majors' Union will be hosting the second annual Evening of Chemistry Halloween night for teachers, students, and their parents residing in the greater Triangle community. This chemistry demonstration event will take place on Oct. 31, from 7:30-9:00 p.m. in P. M. Gross Chemical Laboratories Room 107. The event is free but will be ticketed due to limited seating. Please send your request for tickets to Dr. Ken Lyle.
  • The Franz lab reports the development of a new pro-chelating agent that is activated by hydrogen peroxide to inhibit iron-promoted oxidative stress. The strategy shows promise for targeting metal ions that are causing damage without disturbing healthy metal ion distribution. The work was conducted by graduate student Lou Charkoudian, post-doc David Pham, and Prof. Kathy Franz.
  • The Akhremitchev lab has reported the first direct measurement of hydrophobic interactions between single molecules. The research was performed by graduate student Chad Ray, Duke undergraduate Jason Brown, and Prof. Akhremitchev. A paper describing their findings is available online in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B.
  • 2006 Chemistry Department Summer Fellowships for excellence in research have been awarded to Chad Ray (Joe Taylor Adams Fellowship), Julianne Yost (Paul M. Gross Fellowship), and Senli Guo (Paul M. Gross Fellowship). The Pelham Wilder Teaching Awards were presented to Lou Charkoudian, Raj Juwarker, and James Parise. Congratulations to these student recipients of the 2006 Chemistry Department Graduate Student Fellowships for their outstanding performance in research and teaching.
  • Duke Chemistry will host the 2007 National Organic Chemistry Symposium from June 3-7, 2007. The National Organic Chemistry Symposium is the premier event sponsored by the Division of Organic Chemistry of the American Chemical Society, and it highlights recent advances in organic chemistry. The 40th Symposium consists of 13 invited speakers, plus the 2007 Roger Adams Awardee. The lectures will be presented during morning and evening sessions at the elegant Page Auditorium on the Duke University campus. The goal of the symposium is to present a distinguished roster of speakers that represents the current status of the field of organic chemistry, in terms of breadth and creative advances.
  • The McCafferty group has reported findings that may illuminate a new pathway toward the treatment of depression. Their recent paper is this month's Feature Article in Chemistry and Biology, and it represents a collaboration with the Shiekhattar group at Penn.
  • Drew Schwartz, a rising senior chemistry major, has been recognized by the 2006 NC-ACS/Triangle Chromatography Discussion Group for his work with Don Coltart on the development of small molecule inhibitors of Cdc25 phosphatase. Drew was the 2nd Runner-Up winner for the group's Undergraduate Scholarship, and received $900 to continue his excellent work. Congratulations to Drew!
  • The paper "Designing Molecules by Optimizing Potentials" by Duke chemists Mingliang Wang, Xiangqian Hu, David Beratan, and Weitao Yang is among the ten most accessed articles published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society during the period of January through March 2006. Congratulations to the authors!
  • Suraj Dhungana, Duke Chemistry Ph.D. from the Crumbliss laboratory, is one of four recipients of the American Chemical Society Inorganic Young Investigator Award. He will give a special symposium lecture at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in San Francisco this September, 2006, where he will receive an honorarium and plaque. Suraj's Ph.D. dissertation won Honorable Mention in the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) Prize for Young Chemists competition. Suraj is currently a Director's Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory, NM.
  • The Handler Professor of Chemistry, Weitao Yang, has been elected a member of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science. The Academy was created in Menton, France, in 1967 and is currently limited to 35 regular members under the age of 65. The members, chosen from scientists among all countries, have distinguished themselves by the value of their scientific work and their role as a pioneer or leader of a school in the broad field of the application of quantum mechanics to the study of molecules and macromolecules. The Academy has as its main goal to provide a forum for international contact and collaboration and a periodic evaluation of the main developments, advances and promising directions of research in the broad field of its interest.
  • Professor Katherine Franz has been awarded a grant from the Parkinson's Disease Foundation to fund her research project "Design and Synthesis of ROS-Sensitive Iron Chelators". A leading cause of neuronal damage in Parkinson's Disease is an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS). In order to inhibit iron-catalyzed ROS production, the Franz lab is developing specialized chelators that are selectively activated to sequester this detrimental iron.
  • Professors Barbara Shaw and Warren Warren were honored with named professorships at the May 4 Annual Dinner honoring Distinguished Professors of Duke University. Professor Shaw was named William T Miller Professor of Chemistry, and Professor Warren was named James B. Duke Professor of Chemistry. The Department congratulates both on their well-deserved recognition!
  • John Simon, will receive the NC-ACS Distinguished Lecturer Award for 2006 on Saturday, April 22, at the NC ACS Meeting on the campus of North Carolina Central University. The Award presentation and lecture will begin at 11:50 in Room 124 of the Mary M. Townes Science Center.
  • Prof. Stephen Craig has been selected as the recipient of the David and Janet Vaughan Brooks Teaching Award for 2005-2006. This Trinity College Distinguished Teaching Award is one of four which recognizes truly outstanding teaching in the College. Recipients are selected by a faculty committee on the basis of their ability to encourage intellectual excitement and curiosity in students, knowledge of a field and ability to communicate it, organizational skills, mentorship of students, and commitment to excellent teaching over time.
  • Three chemistry majors are among four Duke students to win prestigious Goldwater Scholarships.
    Duke's newest Goldwater Scholars are Joseph Babcock, Brandon Levin and Felicia Walton, all juniors, and Jonathan Russell, a sophomore. Sixty-two Duke students have received Goldwater Scholarships since the program was initiated in 1988.
    Joseph Babcock, a junior from North Haven, Connecticut, is majoring in biology and chemistry and anticipates a career as a biochemist. His current research in the Department of Biochemistry with Dr. Arno Greenleaf focuses on the regulation of gene expression in simple organisms. Joseph plans to dedicate his science career to the study of how biochemical pathways regulate the development of parasites responsible for tropical diseases such as malaria. In addition to his research, Joseph serves in editor positions with Vertices, Duke's journal of science and technology, and The Blind Spot, Duke's sci-fi literary magazine.
    Brandon Levin, a junior majoring in mathematics, is from Toledo, Ohio. He plans to pursue a career in research in pure mathematics and is especially interested in number theory. "While chemists or physicists look at a molecule or an electron and try to determine its fundamental structure, number theorists want to understand the structure of the integers," said Brandon who was a 2005 PRUV Fellow in the Department of Mathematics with Dr. Les Saper. Brandon has been a counselor and lecturer at PROMYS, Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists, in Boston and serves as an ESL teacher in the Durham community.
    Jonathan Russell, a sophomore from Iowa, is majoring in biology and chemistry. Following graduation from Duke, he expects to earn a dual M.D./Ph.D. degree followed by a career as a molecular geneticist in an academic medical center. In Dr. Alejandro Abally's laboratory in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Jonathan is studying the mechanism of action and synthesis of antimicrobial peptides in simple animal systems. Jonathan is a co-founder and president of Students for Organ Donation and is a member of the First Year Advisory Council.
    Felicia Walton, a junior from Asheville, North Carolina, has been engaged in research since her first year at Duke. Majoring in biology and chemistry, she has been exploring the genetics of pathogenic fungi, the subject of two published papers she recently co-authored with her mentors, Dr. Joseph Heitman and Dr. Alexander Idnurm in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. Felicia is the current President of the Biology Majors Union and a volunteer biology tutor with the Duke-Durham Partners for Youth.
    According to the Goldwater Foundation, "Goldwater Scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Each of Duke's 2006 Rhodes Scholars were also Goldwater Scholars. The Foundation's announcement and list of Scholars can be found at .
  • We are pleased to welcome Prof. Dewey McCafferty who is joining the Department of Chemistry as a Full Professor. Dr. McCafferty's research interests are broadly based in chemical biology and molecular medicine. His group utilizes techniques in organic synthesis, mechanistic enzymology, molecular biology, and rational protein design to produce novel small molecule and peptide-based ligands which they use to characterize, modulate, and inhibit enzymic processes which have an immediate and direct therapeutic relationship to human disease.
  • Julianne Yost and Guoqiang Zhou of the Coltart group have recently reported a novel method for conducting the direct aldol reaction, one of the most important carbon–carbon bond- forming reactions known. Their process relies on the use of simple thioesters – substrates that Nature routinely uses for carbon–carbon bond formation – and is advantageous in its mildness, simplicity, economy and low environmental impact.
  • Senli Guo and Boris Akhremitchev have observed, using atomic force microscopy, structural heterogeneity in amyloid fibrils. Their work has direct implications for the structural study of fibril-forming proteins, implicated in a wide range of human neurological diseases.
  • Graduate student Farrell Kersey and co-workers from the Craig group have observed bimolecular reactions occurring one at a time using single molecule force spectroscopy. When the bond being broken is mechanically "spring loaded", the rate of the reaction (which involves another bond being formed) increases. The researchers observe that two different but related reactions respond to force in pretty much the same way--that is, the mechanism of the reactions is reflected in the mechanics of the single molecules.
  • Summer research opportunities for Duke undergraduates are now available. Interested students should submit an application by March 10.
  • An exciting breakthrough in computational theory has just been published by Xiangqian Hu, Prof. David Beratan, and Prof. Weitao Yang. Using linear combinations of atomic potentials, the group demonstrates how molecular structure within a staggering and vast universe of possible molecules can be rapidly optimized to a particular function. The new method was applied to molecular hyperpolarizability, but it could one day be extended to problems ranging from drug design to electronic devices.
  • Xiaoqing Han and Ross Widenhoefer have recently reported an important step in the development of catalytic hydroamination. Their Au(I)-catalyzed protocol allows the intramolecular hydroamination of unactivated olefins under milder conditions and with broader substrate scope than was previously realized with late transition- metal catalyst systems.
  • The Fitzgerald Group's recent findings about the conserved thermodynamics of hydrogen bonds in protein folding reactions were reported last week in PNAS and highlighed in a recent Duke News Release.
  • New research conducted in labs from several departments at Duke, including that of Thom LaBean in Chemistry, has led to the hierarchical assembly of finite, fully- addressable nanoscale lattices.
  • An interdisciplinary cross-department and cross-school team of Duke chemists, biochemists, mathematicians, and computer scientists has solved a key protein-protein docking problem. The project is highlighted in a recent issue of Duke Dialogue.
  • Professor Charles Lochmüller will be receiving the Distinguished Service Award from the Center for Biomolecular and Tissue Engineering at this year’s CBTE Awards Dinner on the evening of April 19th, 2006 at the CIEMAS Atrium.

    Professor Lochmüller is retiring from Duke after almost 37 years of service. When he served as Chair of the Chemistry Department, he was part of the small group lead by Professor Clark that created what became the Center for Biochemical Engineering [now the Center for Biomolecular and Tissue Engineering], was Professor of Biochemical Engineering and served as Director of Graduate Studies and as Center Director. His research interests at Duke have centered on chemical separation methods and his engineering Ph.D. students worked on various aspects of continuous, larger scale isoelectric focusing systems. His work and that of his Post-docs and graduate students resulted in numerous awards including the American Chemical Society Award in Chromatography [1987], North Carolina Distinguished Chemist, Amer. Institute of Chemists [1988], and one of the first Pioneer in Laboratory Robotics Awards [1985]. He is the first non-Scandinavian to receive the EKS Societal Medal N o.12 - Estonian Chemical Society [1997] in recognition of his life work and his long history of research collaboration with Estonian scientists during the Soviet period. Professor Lochmüller is a member of the American Chemical Society; Fellow, Royal Society of Chemistry (Faraday Division); Fellow, American Institute of Chemists; International Chemometrics Society; and a Life Member with Honor, Estonian Chemical Society. He serves on a number of scholarly publication boards including Editorships and Editorial Boards Critical Reviews in Analytical Chemistry- Editor-in-Chief (1994-pres.); Isolation and Purification -Editor (‘91-94); J. Chem. Inform. and Comp. Sci.; J. Chromatogr. Sci.; J. Chemometrics; Chemically Modified Surfaces and the Proceedings of the Estonian Academy of Science Chemistry Advisory Board. He is the author of numerous book chapters and over 140 scientific papers, has advised many government agencies, served on the Committee of Revision of the United States Pharmacopeia and has lectured all over the world.

    This will be his last semester teaching and has been granted a "last" sabbatical. His official retirement date will be Aug. 2006.