Chemistry majors must complete at least one semester of independent research, under the guidance of a faculty member. The faculty members in the chemistry department work on a wide array of research projects ranging from synthesis and characterization of osmium carbonyl clusters, interactions between metal ions and nucleic acid models, chemistry of model atmospheric aerosols with ozone, and molecular mechanisms of gene silencing. If some of the projects listed below are of interest to you, please contact the listed faculty member!
Chemical Mechanisms of Organic and Enzyme Catalyzed Reactions: Chemical reactions which take over 100,000 years in aqueous solution at physiological pH and temperature can occur in less than a second in an enzyme active site. My research explores the amazing catalytic power of enzymes involved in phosphoryl transfer, one of the most important chemical reactions in biology. My approach is to study the mechanisms of the chemical reaction both in aqueous solution and in an enzyme active site. Results from the laboratory are augmented with computer modeling to provide a better representation of the mechanisms. The aqueous and enzyme mechanisms are then compared to reveal specific catalytic strategies for the enzyme.
Atmospheric aerosols — suspended particulate matter such as sea salt, smoke, and mineral aerosols — impact Earth’s climate by absorbing and scattering solar radiation and altering cloud formation processes. The current level of scientific understanding of these aerosol processes is very low, as classified by the IPCC because of the diversity of aerosol composition and “chemical weathering” of aerosols during transport via reactions with trace pollutants, such as ozone (O3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The atmospheric chemistry research group at Drew University investigates the chemistry of trace pollutants with atmospheric aerosol surrogates containing adsorbed organic molecules prevalent in biomass combustion smoke. These laboratory models are used to characterize this chemistry under controlled conditions to quantify how aerosol properties change during exposure to trace pollutants.
I lead a consortium of analytical chemists around the country who are developing novel Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) materials for analytical chemistry classrooms. In this approach, students work as collaborative learning teams to examine data, measurements or instrumentation, which leads them to construct the core concepts of analytical chemistry. The POGIL pedagogy helps students develop skills that are essential to scientists, such as critical thinking and data analysis, problem solving, and communication.
An organism’s genome encodes all of the biochemical instructions needed to produce a living cell. The transcriptional programs of a cell, however, are dynamic, changing as the cell develops, grows and responds to changes in the environment. The control of gene expression is not well understood but all living cells require it. Special properties of RNA make them ideal for rapid switches that alter gene expression in response to changes in environment. The Liu Group hypothesizes that regulatory RNAs are important elements in numerous gene networks that allow cells to develop, grow, adapt and survive. The lab studies the bacterium that causes cholera, Vibrio cholerae, which survives in both animal and aquatic ecosystems. These bacteria must have evolved sophisticated systems to survive in these diverse niches, providing ample opportunity to investigate gene networks for regulatory RNAs. The goals of the lab are to identify and understand these RNAs, and to apply this gathered knowledge to the development of potential therapeutics.
- Reactivity of Osmium Carbonyl Clusters and Mixed-Metal Carbonyl Clusters.
- X-Ray Crystallographic Analysis of Transition Metal Carbonyl Clusters
- Synthesis of silicon containing amino acid analogs. Synthesis of organometallic complexes.