Chemistry Off the Charts
Cutting-edge instrumental facilities pave the way for more innovative research.
Great scientists make great science happen. But clearly they need cutting-edge facilities for ground-breaking scientific research.
And that’s what is happening in USC College’s Department of Chemistry.
The vision of Executive Vice President and Provost C.L. Max Nikias as described in the USC Biomedical Nanoscience Initiative has become a reality. It is called the Biomolecular and Small Molecule Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Facility — a place where molecule structures are studied on a scale of less than a billionth of a meter.
External funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) combined with support from the College and the Provost’s Office resulted in a new suite of NMR spectrometers: 600, 500 and two 400 megahertz models.
“The department has outstanding research faculty,” said Charles McKenna, chair of chemistry, “But they require advanced instrumentation to stay competitive. These new NMR instruments provide essential, state-of-the-art capabilities that are critical for our research performance. They will also assist us as we continue to recruit the best new faculty in years to come.”
McKenna noted that the 600 MHz model will primarily be used to study biological molecules such as proteins, while the other three are for research on small molecules.
“With the new NMR capabilities that we have acquired during the past year, our scientists are able to better see the structure of molecules containing hydrogen, carbon, phosphorus, fluorine and other atoms using highly sophisticated technology,” McKenna said.
In fact Travis Williams, assistant professor of chemistry, said: “USC is now probably one of the best campuses in America to be an NMR spectroscopist.”
Williams also points out that having this equipment in the College has a two-fold impact. NMR time is inexpensive at USC as compared to most research universities. Therefore, students are encouraged to think outside of the box and test their innovative ideas.
With better scientific tools, Williams’ group has published two high-impact papers. One was recently published in American Chemical Society, a top journal for the chemical sciences.
Another ongoing chemistry acquisition, which will have a profound impact in producing extraordinary molecular science at USC, is a $1 million pulse EPR-ENDOR spectrometer to measure electron spin resonance. By contrast, NMR spectrometers measure nuclear spin resonance.
Funded by an NIH stimulus grant to the chemistry department with support from the College and Provost’s Office, this machine will permit chemists and biologists in the College and the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and at the California Institute of Technology to investigate problems ranging from the molecular basis of virus infections and cardiovascular events to the function of DNA repair in cancer and the mechanism of N2 fixation.
Professors of chemistry Mark Thompson, Richard Roberts, Kyung Jung and Peter Qin took the lead in joining McKenna and other faculty participants to contribute the time and expertise required for the rigorous proposal writing process, which resulted in the four major government grants awarded to fund the new NMR and EPR instruments.
Related News Items
- In Memoriam: Howard Taylor, 79 May 22, 2015
- Guided by ‘What If?’ May 13, 2015
- Symposium Synergy April 29, 2015
- Strength of Spirit and Mind April 29, 2015
- USC Dornsife Recruits Leading ‘Click Chemist’ April 27, 2015
- Lauda Receives Simons Fellowship April 14, 2015
- Internet-like Networks Revealed April 7, 2015
- The Winner in Climate Change? April 7, 2015
- A Change of Heart April 1, 2015
- Hidden Costs March 30, 2015
- Bucky-Balls Become Buckybombs March 27, 2015
- Ehrenreich and Ralph Earn Sloan Fellowships March 4, 2015
- Just Getting Warmed Up March 3, 2015
- Irani Pledges Support for Residential College March 2, 2015
- Unlocking Pain Relief February 20, 2015
- On Our Best Behavior February 20, 2015
- Waterman Awarded Prestigious Dan David Prize February 11, 2015
- Better Cures, Better Care February 5, 2015
- Partners in Sustainability and Environmental Studies February 3, 2015
- Thompson Hailed as Innovator December 16, 2014