Recent work by Jesse Zalatan featured on the cover of Cell

Assistant Professor Jesse Zalatan and co-workers at the UCSF have developed a method to encode complex, synthetic transcriptional regulatory programs using the CRISPR-Cas system. Natural biological systems can switch between different functional or developmental states depending on the particular set of genes being expressed, and the ability to synthetically control gene expression has important implications as both a research tool and as a means to engineer novel cell-based therapeutics and devices.

Zalatan and coworkers designed CRISPR-Cas RNA scaffold molecules that specify both a DNA target and the function to execute at the target, so that sets of RNA scaffolds can be used to generate a synthetic, multigene transcriptional program in eukaryotic cells in which some genes are activated and others are repressed. These types of programs can be used to reprogram complex reaction networks in biological systems, such as metabolic pathways or signaling cascades.

For more information about Professor Zalatan and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group website.

Brandi Cossairt wins Seattle AWIS 2015 Award for Early Career Achievement

Cossairt_HeadShot_sqAssistant Professor Brandi Cossairt has been awarded the 2015 Award for Early Career Achievement from the Seattle chapter of the Association for Women in Science. The award, which recognizes a woman who has led her own research lab or program for less than six years in an academic, non-profit or industry setting who shows exceptional potential for leadership and innovation in her field, will be presented at the AWIS Seattle Awards Dinner in June 2015.

To learn more about Professor Cossairt and her research, please visit her faculty page and research group website.

Boydston research group has back-to-back papers highlighted in C&E News

boydstonResearch by Assistant Professor AJ Boydston and his group has been featured in two recent articles in the American Chemical Society’s Chemical & Engineering News. An article in the December 18, 2014 issue highlights his research on polymers that change color when stretched ( Just one month later, an article in the January 19, 2015 issue summarized the Boydston group’s research on a metal-free route to prepare polymers (

For more information about Professor Boydston and his research program, please visit his faculty page and research group website.

Matthew Bush receives 2014 Eli Lilly Young Investigator Award in Analytical Chemistry

matt_bushAssistant Professor Matthew F. Bush has been selected to receive the 2014 Eli Lilly and Company Young Investigator Award in Analytical Chemistry. The award is given by the Analytical Chemistry Academic Contacts Committee at Eli Lilly and Company based upon Dr. Bush’s outstanding research, publication record, and the impact they feel he is making in the field of analytical chemistry.

Eli Lilly awards these grants in many fields of chemistry and the life sciences to new, outstanding faculty members at universities throughout the country with the aim to strengthen ties with the academic community and, at the same time, provide support for leading scientists in analytical chemistry.

For more information about Professor Bush and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group website.

AJ Boydston wins NSF CAREER Award

boydstonAssistant Professor AJ Boydston has received a CAREER (Faculty Early Career Development) Award from the National Science Foundation. The CAREER Program is a Foundation-wide program that “offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.” Professor Boydston received the award for his research proposal, “CAREER: Development of Force-Activated Materials for the Release of Small Organic Molecules”. This award funds research to develop materials capable of releasing small organic molecules via mechanochemical transduction. In this way, macroscopic forces will be translated into molecular-level chemical reactions. In particular, Professor Boydston will be:

  1. Investigating how mechanical force can be used to guide chemical reactivities. This will include comparisons between mechanophores that operate by complementary bond bending and stretching mechanisms.
  2. Developing mechanochemical triggers for initiating head-to-tail depolymerization of self-immolative polymers.
  3. Establishing design principles for materials that most efficiently convert mechanical input into chemical output.

In addition to providing new insights and capabilities for functional materials, Professor Boydston maintains an active commitment to STEM education through interactions with various on-campus organizations and curriculum development with Sammamish High School.

For more information about this NSF CAREER Award, please visit the award website.

For more information about AJ Boydston and his research program, please visit his faculty page.

Department ranks 10th nationally for research spending

nsf_smallOne measure of the scale and strength of chemistry research programs is success in the allocation of competitively awarded grant and contract funds in support of research. The Department of Chemistry at the University of Washington has in recent years been among the leaders nationally by this measure. According to the most recent (2012) National Science Foundation Survey of Higher Education Research and Development, the University of Washington Department of Chemistry is ranked 10th nationally for overall research and development spending in chemistry, appearing just below the Department of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for total expenditures. In terms of federally-funded research and development spending, the Department of Chemistry ranks 8th nationally.

Date related to the survey can be found at

UW Chemistry Graduate Program ranked #1 by students

Bagley_squareA recent survey of graduate students in chemistry ranked the University of Washington as having the Top Chemistry Graduate School based on 15 ranking categories relevant to students, such as academic competitiveness, career support, financial aid, and quality of network. The chemistry graduate program was also ranked number one for “use of technology”. The survey was administered and published by (see the results at, a “graduate program guide for students, created by students”.

Multi-disciplinary approach to understanding Botulinum toxin

RonetalFigResearch Associate Professor Werner Kaminsky contributed to a research project recently highlighted in Nature. With the catch phrase “BOTOX paralyses zebrafish muscles and blocks fin regeneration”, Nature highlighted a publication on the effect of Botulinum toxin on bone regeneration,[i] tested on small fish, whose fins were cut-off (under sedation), then regrown while testing different amounts of medications administrated to the fish’s dorsolateral trunk and the base of the tail fin prior to surgery.[ii] Nature summed up the findings with “muscle paralysis (was) similar to that seen in mammals and humans in that it was focal, dose-dependent and short-lasting.” and “BTx treatment had a negative impact on bone formation during fin regeneration.” The work involved a truly diverse multi-discipline co-operation between members of three departments on the UW campus: Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, Pharmacology, and Chemistry. The regenerating zebrafish tail fin often provides a compelling model for therapeutic studies. However, a major hurdle to such efforts is the lack of quantitative modalities for bone mineralization analysis. Kaminsky contributed his patented microscopy technology to determine bone mineralization with a custom built automated polarized light microscope to sequentially acquire images under a stepwise rotating polarizer. This enabled birefringence to be decoupled from transmittance and orientation, allowing for quantitative analysis.




Sam Jenekhe receives the 2014 AIChE Charles M. A. Stine Award

jenekhe150_2Sam Jenekhe, Professor of Chemistry and Boeing-Martin Professor of Chemical Engineering, is the recipient of the 2014 Charles M. A. Stine Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). The award recognizes Professor Jenekhe for outstanding and pioneering contributions to the development of semiconducting polymers for applications in organic electronics and optoelectronics. The award is given annually to a leading researcher in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of materials science and engineering and is sponsored by E. I. duPont de Nemours & Co. Professor Jenekhe will present the keynote talk in the MESD Plenary Session at the 2014 AIChE Annual Meeting in Atlanta.

More information on the Charles M. A. Stine award can be found here.

For more information about Professor Jenekhe and his research, please visit his faculty page.

Benjamin Van Kuiken wins College of Arts and Science Dean’s Graduate Medal

BVK Picture_sqCongratulations to Benjamin Van Kuiken for his accomplishments earning the College of Arts and Science Dean’s Graduate Medal in Natural Sciences. Benjamin is a graduate student in Assistant Professor Munira Khalil’s laboratory. The Dean’s Graduate Medal is awarded to four exceptional graduate students – one in each division of the College of Arts and Sciences – representing Arts, Humanities, Natural Science, and Social Sciences.