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Volume 15 Number 13

January 19, 2011

Chemistry Department Review

As some of you know, the Chemistry Department is undergoing our once-every-10-year departmental review this year.  As a part of the review, there will be opportunities for chemistry majors to provide input, and we very much hope that you will.  There are two parts to a review:  a visit from external reviewers (in our case, chemistry faculty members from UC Berkeley, Harvey Mudd College, and Williams College) and a study by faculty and students from within Carleton.  These two groups operate independently, and they will both want to meet with you.  Department reviewers will have questions about how well the department is serving your needs as students and general strengths, weaknesses, etc., that you experience.  We hope you will be candid and helpful as these two teams try to generate a full and accurate picture of the chemistry program at Carleton.

Chemistry Department majors from all classes will be invited to a meeting with each group.  The dates and times will be:

Meeting with external review team:  Monday, January 31, 2:00-3:00 p.m., Olin 04 (instead of comps group meetings for seniors).

Lunch with external review team:  Tuesday, February 1, 12:00-1:00 p.m., LDC Shearer Dining Room.  Meet in the Mudd hallway and walk over together.  Students who are off board will have their lunch paid for.

Meeting with internal review team:  To be announced.

Please let me know if you have any questions, and thank you in advance for your participation in our review!

Deborah Gross

Seminar Announcement

Friday, January 21, 2011
3:30 p.m.
Olin 02

Silvia Cavagnero
University of Wisconsin, Madison

How Do Proteins Acquire a 3D Structure in the Cell?  An Interdisciplinary Journey across Organic, Physical and Biological

Proteins are essential organic molecules for life on earth.  Yet, we still know very little about how proteins acquire their highly organized three-dimensional structure, i.e., how they fold.  This is a complex physical process given the many degrees of freedom of the protein chain.  Correct folding is required for biological activity within a healthy cell cycle.  Incorrect folding, often leading to aggregation, is responsible for a large variety of deadly neurodegenerative and brain diseases, rendering protein folding a topic of enormous biomedical relevance.  In the case of small/medium-size proteins, kinetic arguments suggest there is ample time for folding during the earliest stages of a protein’s life, while nascent chains are still ribosome-bound and before synthesis of the full length protein is complete.  Given the complexity of the cellular environment, a combination of tailored biological and spectroscopic tools is likely needed to drive progress in this area.  This lecture will present our current efforts to understand how proteins acquire the ability to independently fold as nascent chains elongate from N to C terminus.  The role of the ribosome and molecular chaperones in modulating nascent protein dynamics, and the structural rearrangements that take place upon release of fully synthesized nascent proteins from the ribosome, will also be discussed.

Journal Club Meets This Week

Journal Club meets this Thursday at noon in Mudd 171 to discuss a paper relating to this week’s seminar.  Go to the following for information about what to read beforehand:

Summer Research Opportunities

Clarkson University

Clarkson University is offering a Research Experience for Undergraduates program sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  This program in Environmental Sciences and Engineering has a theme of “Advancing Sustainable Systems and Environmental Technologies to Serve Humanity (ASSETs to Serve Humanity).”  Students of diverse backgrounds will come together for a 10-week intensive summer research experience, professional development, and graduate student preparation.  The program incorporates professional development and multidisciplinary research activities in three focus areas:  (1) sustainable energy and infrastructure for the built environment, (2) sensing, identifying, and mitigating emerging pollutants and other risks, and (3) transformation of social policy:  infrastructure, energy, and environment.  Students will be provided with a generous stipend; a travel allowance; field trips focused on the REU theme; workshops related to sustainable energy, sustainable infrastructure, and sensors; and other professional development opportunities.  More information and an on-line application are available at  The deadline for applications is March 1, 2011.  Please contact Jennifer deCoste ( with any questions.

University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Nebraska’s summer program offers research opportunities in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.  A complete listing of faculty mentors and research project descriptions can be found at  Students can also find information about program benefits including a competitive stipend, room and board, travel expenses and more.  During the program students receive first-hand exposure to research and the experiences of graduate school.  They work closely with faculty mentors and research teams of graduate students and other summer scholars.  Students also have opportunities to participate in meaningful social and professional development activities outside of the laboratory.  The online application makes it easy for students to apply.  Priority review begins February 15, and all applications are due March 1.  Students historically underrepresented in graduate education and students from academic institutions where research programs are limited are especially encouraged to apply.

Summer Internship Information Session

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is a think-and-do tank in Colorado.  Their mission is to drive the efficient and restorative use of resources.  Come to the presentation and Q&A session to learn about the ENTS/RMI Summer Internship Opportunity with Mathias Bell ’07.

Thursday, January 20, 2011
7:00 P.M., Leighton 305

Scientific Careers Panel Discussion

The Minnesota Private College Job and Internship Fair will be held on February 22, 2011 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  Along with access to over 100 Minnesota employers, there will be a Scientific Careers Panel Discussion at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.  See attached for more information about the panel discussion.  If attending, you must pre-register at the Career Center before February 16.

Environmental Job Opportunity

Green Corps is looking for college graduates who are ready to take on the biggest environmental challenges of our day.  They will be recruiting at Carleton on February 3 and 4.  Sign up here for a first-round interview.

In Green Corps’ year-long paid program, you’ll get intensive training in the skills you’ll need to make a difference in the world.  You’ll get hands-on experience fighting to solve urgent environmental problems — global warming, deforestation, water pollution and many others — with groups such as Sierra Club and Greenpeace.  And, when you graduate from Green Corps, we’ll help you find a career with one of the nation’s leading environmental and social change groups.  Application deadline:  February 4, 2011.  For more information, visit