2010 has been an eventful year for the chemistry department at the University of Colorado Denver. In January, the department moved all of its research and teaching laboratories into the new Science building on the Auraria campus. The availability of the new teaching laboratory space gives the department capacity to teach more students than was possible in the old facility, this provides a welcome relief as enrollment in all chemistry courses has been up between 10 and 15% each from the past 3 years. General chemistry laboratories are offered from 8:00AM until 10:00PM Monday through Thursday, with three sections offered on Friday, and one section on Saturday. Organic chemistry teaching laboratories are offered with increasing frequency as well. While the new facility allows the department to teach more students, it also allows us to expose the students to different & modern experiments that illustrate concepts that they are learning in the lecture. The new facility also has the department considering how we can modify the curriculum to meet the educational needs of the many students who take chemistry courses.
Beginning with the fall 2010 semester, the department began offering new honors sections of General Chemistry for students enrolled in the University Honors and Leadership (UHL) program and the new BA/BS/MD program. These programs are recruiting tools to attract students to the University, and the chemistry department has taken a leadership role in developing courses specifically for these students. Special recognition should be given to Professors Doris Kimbrough and Margaret Bruehl for developing the new general chemistry lecture and laboratory curriculum for these programs; and to Professor Douglas Dyckes for developing the curriculum for the honors sections of Organic Chemistry that will be offered beginning in the fall of 2011.
In addition to the teaching laboratories, the new building increases the available research laboratory space. The new research laboratory space was needed as the department has welcomed 5 new faculty members since 2007. The newest member of the faculty, Jefferson Knight, joined the department in the fall of 2010. Jeff’s research is in biochemistry, and he has already attracted several undergraduate students to conduct research in his laboratories. This is a common theme for the department as more and more undergraduate students are seeking independent research experiences with our faculty. During the 2010-2011 academic year, up to 6 of our graduating students will be completing a senior honors thesis.
As 2010 comes to a close, the final part of the department’s move into the new facility will occur. At the end of the fall 2010 semester, renovations of the old Science building will be completed, and the chemistry department office will move into its permanent location on the 3rd floor. The departments new office location will be in room 3071 of the Science building. As always, I encourage you to visit the campus and see in person all of the wonderful things that your chemistry department is doing.
Mark R. Anderson
Chair, Department of Chemistry
University of Colorado Denver
Dr. Jefferson Knight joined the Department of Chemistry at UC Denver in August 2010 as an Assistant Professor.
Jeff received a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. from Yale before moving to Colorado in 2006. His graduate studies involved protein misfolding and aggregation, focusing on a peptide called amylin that forms insoluble amyloid plaques in the pancreas of type II diabetics. As part of this project, Jeff investigated the role of lipid membranes as catalysts of amyloid fiber formation. During his postdoctoral research, Jeff’s interests shifted to proteins and domains that bind lipid membranes even when they are correctly folded. He worked with Prof. Joseph Falke at CU-Boulder to develop new techniques for studying these protein-membrane interactions using single-molecule fluorescence microscopy.
As a faculty member at UC Denver, Jeff Knight plans to continue exploring the biochemistry and biophysics of protein-membrane interactions. His lab’s current research focuses on proteins that are important in the physiology of insulin secretion and may be relevant to type II diabetes. When not in lab he enjoys hiking, cycling, and spending time with his family.
Dr. Hai Lin Received National Science Foundation Award
Dr. Hai Lin, an Assistant Professor of Chemistry, recently received a highly prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2010. This is the first CAREER award for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the second for the University of Colorado Denver. Prof. Lin is supported by approximately $625,000 to carry out his research titled “Multiscale Simulations of Chloride Transport Proteins by Combined Quantum and Classis Mechanical Approaches.”
Transport proteins including channels and pumps for small molecules and ions across cell membranes are critical for all of life. Failure of such proteins to work properly can cause hereditary diseases such as cystic fibrosis, myotonia (muscle stiffness), renal salt loss, deafness, urinary protein loss, kidney stones, osteoporosis and blindness. Understanding the details of the functioning of such proteins and their molecular dynamics is critical to understanding the mechanisms of movements of ions, such as chloride and protons, across membranes. Rigorous computational analyses of such channels and pumps, and the ions and molecules they move across membranes, is one important approach to understanding how these function and might be regulated, or perhaps corrected in cases of malfunction.
Progress made in the research will be integrated directly into the curriculum of the Molecular Modeling and Simulation course taught by Prof. Lin. Undergraduates, MS students, and high-school teachers are currently participating in the research by doing subprojects. The research program will also be integrated into the LAB COATS (Link to
Advanced Biomedical Research Career Opportunities and Training Section) program at UC Denver, the goal of which is to retain undergraduates from underrepresented groups in science and assist them with entry into graduate school and the pursuit of careers in research.
Beginning with the fall 2010 semester, the University of Colorado Denver and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences began a new program in which highly qualified students were admitted as freshman to the University with the guarantee that they would have a reserved seat at the University of Colorado Medical School following graduation, if they maintained a good academic performance during their undergraduate studies. This program is one of the ways that the University is becoming the first choice school for students wanting to pursue health related careers. Ten students were admitted into the program this academic year, and the goal is to admit 10 students each year into the program.
The chemistry curriculum is central to the success of these students. To meet the needs of this program and to offer the students an experience that is different from the large-enrollment courses, the chemistry department led the effort to design courses intended specifically for these students. Honors sections of General Chemistry I and II (that are being offered during the 2010-2011 academic year) and honors sections of Organic Chemistry I and II (that will be offered during the 2011-2012 academic year) were created for these students. These courses were also made available to other highly motivated students who have an appropriate background and that want a more in-depth exposure to chemistry. Because these courses have a smaller enrollment, the students get a more hands-on laboratory experience using methods not typically introduced in general chemistry courses. The laboratories that the students conduct give them experience with modern scientific instrumentation (for example, differential scanning calorimetry, NMR, UV/Vis spectrometry, High-performance liquid chromatrography) while teaching them the fundamental chemical principles that are inherent to these complex measurements. The honors general chemistry laboratory also introduces the students to open-ended, problem solving laboratories.
The department hopes to take this focused curriculum that has been developed for the BA/BA/MD program, and create other curriculum tracks for students (e.g. in addition to the Honors track, we would like to implement tracks for chemistry majors, a biochemistry track, etc.). Enrollment in chemistry courses is up over 50% since just 2007-2008 and each semester the department is offering multiple sections of General Chemistry I, General Chemistry II, Organic Chemistry I and Organic Chemistry II. With our current enrollment, we believe that there is the opportunity to increase student success by tracking students into sections of courses that are more closely aligned with their personal and professional interests.
The 2010 academic year has been another exciting and productive year for the UC Denver Chemistry Club. They have been involved in community outreach, student events, department events and fundraisers.
The Chemistry Club’s community outreach included the annual PB & J day (supplying brown bag lunches for the metro area homeless),
conducting science experiments at local area inner city schools, and working with a non-profit organization called “Girls Inc.” to assist with
science tutoring and demonstrations.
Members of the Chemistry Club attended the ACS conference in March where they were recognized by ACS as an Outstanding Student
Affiliate group and received special recognition for their efforts in being a “green” club (e.g. by conducting their activities in an environmentally friendly fashion). This recognition was awarded during the spring 2010 ACS meeting in San Francisco. The club attended STEMapalooza in October, their liquid nitrogen ice cream demonstration was very popular with event goers. National Chemistry Week in October made for a fun movie night, it provided students with the opportunity to decorate shirts with their favorite element, atom or molecule.
Fundraising events in 2010 included the faculty & TA pie-in-the-face and brownie periodic table. The events raised approximately $250 for future community outreach activities. The most popular event this past year was undoubtedly the faculty & TA pie-in-the-face fundraiser. The lucky winners, Dr. Mark Anderson and his TA Madeline Torres were pied in front of an excited crowd this past fall semester.
The members of the UCD Chemistry club are very active and involved in all aspects of the community and University. The next year will surely bring new and exciting challenges which will undoubtedly be met and exceeded by the group.
Recent Faculty Publications & Presentations
L. Ader, D. N. M. Jones and H. Lin, "Alcohol Binding to the Odorant Binding Protein LUSH: Multiple Factors Affecting Binding Affinities", Biochemistry, 49(29), 6136-6142.
R. Damrauer, "Interactions of Tetrahedrane and Tetrasilatetrahedrane with CH2 and SiH2: A Computational Study", Organometallics, 29(21), 4975-4982.
A. Harper and M. R. Anderson, "Electrochemical Glucose Sensors-Developments Using Electrostatic Assembly and Carbon Nanotubes for Biosensor Construction", Sensors, 10(9), 8248-8274.
D. R. Kimbrough and A. C. Jensen, "Using the Melamine Contamination of Foods To Enhance the Chemistry Classroom", Journal of Chemical Education, 87(5), 496-499.
J. D. Knight, M. G. Lerner, J. G. Marcano-Velazquez, R. W. Pastor and J. J. Falke, "Single Molecule Diffusion of Membrane-Bound Proteins: Window into Lipid Contacts and Bilayer Dynamics", Biophysical Journal, 99(9), 2879-2887.
W. Sanders and M. R. Anderson, "Potential driven deposition of polyelectrolytes onto the surface of cysteine monolayers assembled on gold", Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 342(2), 499-504.
Y. Zhang and H. Lin, "Flexible-boundary QM/MM calculations: II. Partial charge transfer across the QM/MM boundary that passes through a covalent bond", Theoretical Chemistry Accounts, 126(5-6), 315-322.
Current UCD Chemistry Faculty Current UCD Instructors
Larry Anderson Jefferson Knight Margaret Bruehl
Mark Anderson John Lanning Priscilla Crocker-Burrow
Robert Damrauer Hai Lin Vanessa Fishback
Douglas Dyckes Yong Liu
James Hageman Scott Reed
Doris Kimbrough Xiaotai Wang