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Volume 16 Number 23

April 4, 2012

Chemistry Group Comps Presentation

Heavy Metal Sandwiches:  Rocking Out at Room Temperature to Dinitrogen Functionalization

Ryan Cammarota, Katie Deeg, Peter Dunn, Jon Raberg, Sean Roberts, Karen Robinson, and Erika Warrick

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 (TODAY)
7:00 p.m.
Boliou 104

Nitrogen fixation is an essential life process through which atmospheric nitrogen is converted to ammonia.  For the last 100 years we have relied on the energy-intensive Haber-Bosch process to create ammonia for fertilizer in order to sustain the world’s population surge.  One focus of Professor Paul Chirik’s (Princeton) work is using group 4 (Ti, Zr, Hf) metallocene complexes to promote dinitrogen fixation and functionalization at ambient temperatures and pressures.  Using small, abundant molecules such as H2, CO2, and CO as feedstocks, his group has obtained a variety of products with new N-H and N-C bonds, and achieved the N-N bond cleavage of dinitrogen, one of the strongest bonds in chemistry.  The products of these reactions have various applications as precursors to pharmaceuticals and potential slow-release fertilizers, a promising step towards bypassing energy-intensive ammonia production during synthesis of these products.

Seminar Announcement

Friday, April 6, 2012
3:30 p.m.
Olin 04

Adrian Roitberg
University of Florida

Sometimes a pKa is not a pKa.  Protein Simulations at constant pH.

I will present a methodology to simulated protein dynamics and ensemble properties under a constant pH constraint, instead of the usual constant protonation paradigm.  The method will be used to predict pKas of proteins.  The results show that when substantial conformational changes happen as a function of pH, then the experimentally reported pKas cannot be considered to be simple protonation changes.  This new view can have repercussions in our understanding of buried charged residues in proteins.

Journal Club Meets This Week

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

Chemistry Group Comps Presentation

DNA, I hear you’re single:  How single-molecule techniques elucidate DNA replication

Cody Finke, Katie France, Brian Kempers, Ernesto Llano, Kenneth Lum, Erik Olson, and Melody Zhou

Tuesday, April 10, 2012
8:00 p.m.
Weitz Center Cinema

Biological systems have traditionally been studied through ensemble-averaging techniques.  However, newly available techniques allow for tracking one molecule at a time, revealing previously unavailable mechanistic details.  We will discuss Antoine van Oijen’s work using these single molecule techniques to study DNA replication.  Among other things, the van Oijen laboratory has characterized the orchestration of DNA-protein interactions necessary for DNA synthesis, including the coordination of leading and lagging strand DNA synthesis rates and the mechanics of lagging strand loop formation and release.  These results represent a step forward in our understanding of the details of DNA replication that would not have been possible without the use of single molecule techniques.

DOW-MIT ACCESS Program 2012

The DOW-MIT ACCESS Program, hosted by the Departments of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, is a weekend-long symposium aimed to expose underrepresented minority students to the benefits of a graduate education in the aforementioned research areas.  This 4th annual event, taking place on MIT’s campus October 12 and 13, is an interactive and informative symposium that has proven to have a lasting impact on its past participants.

Applications for the ACCESS Fall 2012 session are due June 1, 2012.  All travel expenses, meals, and hotel accommodations for students selected to participate in the ACCESS program will be paid by MIT.  Participation neither obligates the student to apply for graduate study nor guarantees future consideration for study at MIT.  ACCESS was made possible through the generous support of Dow Chemical Corporation.  For more information, visit or email

Summer Employment Opportunity

CSSI, the Carleton Summer Science Institute ( is looking for Carleton students to help teach in the institute along with six faculty members.  All students interested in working directly with CSSI need to complete an application through the website.  You can learn all about this opportunity and others at  All applications are due April 19, 2012.