Pradipsinh Rathod awarded Gates Foundation grant

Pradipsinh K. Rathod, Professor of Chemistry, was awarded a $ 1,000,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the next phase of Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative to encourage bold and unconventional ideas for global health. The grant will provide continued support for Prof. Rathod’s  global health research project “Strategies to Disable Hypermutagenesis in Malaria Parasites.”

Prof. Rathod proposed that drug resistance in malaria parasite populations is driven by cellular components, a “mutasome”, that promotes acquisition of multiple mutations at target loci in the genome.  All malaria parasites may have had an ancestral, pre-existing mechanism to mutate surface proteins at extraordinary rates to avoid host immunity. However, parasite populations displaying the Accelerated Resistance to Multiple Drugs (ARMD) phenotype may have hijacked such a machinery to now make changes anywhere in the genome. Genomic studies are geared to identify genome components which help drive hypermutagenesis, and high throughput screens are being developed to directly block the process with small organic molecules. An ability to chemically disable such a mutasome during malaria therapy would improve success rates and staying power of new antimalarial drugs.   Laboratory Post-Doctoral colleagues John White and Jenny Guler, and graduate student Joseph Fowble conduct  experimental design and implementation on the GCE project in the Rathod laboratory.

Grand Challenges Explorations is a five-year, $100 million initiative of the Gates Foundation to promote innovation in global health. For more information, visit

To learn more about Prof. Rathod’s research, visit his faculty page.

Pictured: Prof. Rathod and Dr. Jennifer Guler in the lab (photo by Mary Levin).

Electro-Optic Research featured on cover of Journal of Physical Chemistry B

Stephanie Benight, a 5th year graduate student working with Larry Dalton and Bruce Robinson, is lead author on a paper recently featured as the cover story in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B  (Sept. 23rd issue). Benight’s graduate research has been focused on investigating intermolecular interactions in electro-optic chromophore systems using experimental and theoretical methods. Organic electro-optic (EO) materials have the potential to minimize the size, weight, and power requirements of next generation computing, telecommunications, and sensing applications.

In this article, Benight and coworkers demonstrate both experimentally and theoretically that lattice dimensionality can be defined using the relationship between centrosymmetric order and acentric order. Experimentally: Acentric order of a chromophore system is determined by attenuated total reflection measurement of electro-optic activity coupled with hyper-Rayleigh scattering measurement of molecular first hyperpolarizability, and centrosymmetric order is determined by the variable angle polarization referenced absorption spectroscopy method. Theoretically: Order is determined from statistical mechanical models that predict the properties of soft condensed matter.

Full citation: [Stephanie J. Benight, Lewis E. Johnson, Robin Barnes, Benjamin C. Olbricht, Denise H. Bale, Philip J. Reid, Bruce E. Eichinger, Larry R. Dalton, Philip A. Sullivan, and Bruce H. Robinson, J. Phys. Chem. B, 2010114 (37), pp 11949–11956.]

Pictured: Stephanie Benight and a few of the co-authors of the paper. (Left to right) Lewis Johnson, Prof. Bruce Robinson, and Stephanie Benight.

Dustin Maly wins NSF CAREER Award

Assistant Professor Dustin Maly 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.”

Maly received his NSF CAREER Award for his research proposal, “CAREER: Small-Molecule-Regulated Signaling Proteins.” The goal of the research is to engineer mammalian signaling enzymes that can be regulated with cell-permeable small molecules.

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

For more information about Dustin Maly and his research program, please visit his faculty page.

Dalton Named Fellow of the Materials Research Society

Professor Larry Dalton has been named a 2010 Fellow of the Materials Research Society.  The goal of the MRS Fellow program is to recognize outstanding members whose sustained and distinguished contributions to the advancement of materials research are internationally recognized. Dalton was honored “for pioneering design and development of extraordinary electro-optic materials for high-speed telecommunications, analysis of key enabling intermolecular interactions, and exceptional contributions to materials education and workforce development.”

To learn more about the MRS Fellows program, visit the MRS website.

To read more about Larry Dalton and his research, visit his faculty page.