UW team wins iGEM grand prize

The Department of Chemistry congratulates Chemistry graduate student Justin Siegel and undergraduate Chemistry and Biochemistry majors Casey Ager, Juhye An, Sydney Gordon, Elaine Lai, Seth Sagulo, Liz Stanley, Sarah Wolf, and Lei Zhang for a remarkable accomplishment. These students and 14 others were members of the UW team that won the Grand Prize in the sixth annual International Genetically Engineered Machine World Championship Competition (iGEM). This is the first time a team from the United States has won the award. Members of the UW community are invited to a celebration of their accomplishment on Monday, December 12, at 4:00 pm in the atrium of the Electrical Engineering/Computer Science and Engineering Building.

This year, 160 teams from around the world competed in regional competitions. The 65 most competitive teams worldwide convened at MIT to present their synthetic biology projects. Awards were presented and the four top teams (from Imperial College London, MIT, ZJU-China, and the University of Washington) were named as finalists. An international panel of judges awarded the University of Washington the grand prize.

The University of Washington project is an example of undergraduate students engineering solutions to real-world problems. The students developed a novel protein with promise for the treatment of gluten intolerance (Celiac disease), to be taken as an oral therapeutic similar to the lactaid pill. Additionally, they produced diesel fuel from sugar by engineering a novel biological system. These projects demonstrate how synthetic biology can be used to solve many of the world’s problems, and that significant progress can be made by a group of undergraduate students with little formal training in just one summer. More information can be found at http://2011.igem.org/Team:Washington. For more info about iGEM, visit http://www.igem.org

Goldberg et al. characterize methane-metal complex

Professor Karen Goldberg and researchers at the University of North Carolina and the University of Washington have described the first observation of a metal complex that binds methane in solution. The finding is reported in the October 23, 2009 issue of Science. The Science report describes a σ-methane complex that is shown to be quite stable in solution. This report is the first observation and full characterization of a relatively long-lived σ-methane complex in solution. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra of the complex were obtained by protonation of a rhodium-methyl precursor at -110 °C. The complex is observed to rapidly tumble in the coordination sphere of rhodium, exchanging free and bound hydrogens. Density functional theory calculations indicate that the complex is best described as η2-C,H methane coordination to the metal.

Professor Goldberg is the Director of the UW-based NSF Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis, a Center for Chemical Innovation that seeks to find efficient, inexpensive and environmentally friendly ways to produce chemicals and fuels.

Citation: “Characterization of a Rhodium(I) σ-Methane Complex in Solution” Wesley Bernskoetter, Cynthia Schauer, Karen Goldberg, Maurice Brookhart, Science, 326 (5952), 553 (23 October 2009)

[DOI: 10.1126/science.1177485]

Read the Science paper

UW press release

Prof. Goldberg’s faculty page and research group website

Sarah Keller wins 2010 Avanti Young Investigator Award

Professor Sarah Keller has been named the recipient of the 2010 Avanti Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research, established by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Lipid Research Division.  Prof. Keller’s research focuses on how changes in membrane lipid composition can affect the activity of membrane proteins. The award consists of a plaque, $2,000 and transportation and expenses to present a lecture at the 2010 ASBMB Annual Meeting.

ASBMB press release

Prof. Keller’s faculty page and research group website.

Gamelin et al. report light-induced spontaneous magnetization in Science

A paper by Professor Daniel Gamelin, members of his research group, and collaborators at the University of Duisberg-Essen appeared in the August 21, 2009 issue of Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The paper details the spontaneous photoinduced polarization of Mn2+ spins in colloidal doped CdSE nanocrystals. Very large effective internal magnetic fields were observed up to ~50 K and photomagnetic effects are observed all the way up to room temperature.

Citation: “Light-Induced Spontaneous Magnetization in Doped Colloidal Quantum Dots” Rémi Beaulac, Lars Schneider, Paul I. Archer, Gerd Bacher, Daniel R. Gamelin, Science 325 (5943), 973 (21 August 2009) [DOI: 10.1126/science.1174419]

To view the abstract and full text, please visit Science magazine.

UW News press release

Daniel Chiu receives Sloan Research Fellowship

Assistant Professor Daniel Chiu was one of four UW faculty members awarded a highly competitive and prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Sloan Research Fellowships are granted to enhance the careers of the top young academics in the sciences, and they carry a $40,000 grant over a two-year period. Currently there are 116 fellowships awarded annually across seven fields: chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience, and physics.

Original article by Bob Roseth from the University Week publication.

For more information about the Sloan Fellowship and recent recipients, please see the Fellowship website.

For more information about Daniel Chiu and his research, please visit his faculty page or his research group website.