Fall 2020

Friday, Aug 21

Careers in Government Labs Panel (Michael Mock host)

Friday, Aug. 28

Careers in Industry Panel (Sharon Neufeldt host)

Friday, Sept. 4

Careers in Predominately Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs) Panel (Mary Cloninger host)

Friday, Sept. 11

Postdoctoral Panel (Jen DuBois host)

Friday, Sept. 18

Alternative Careers Panel (Sharon Neufeldt host) 

Friday, Sept. 25

Dr. Shannon Boettcher  from the University of Oregon will present 

"Towards a Molecular Understanding of Dynamic Fe-based Oxygen Evolution Catalysts"

Heterogeneous electrocatalysts for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) are complicated materials with dynamic structures. They exhibit potential-induced phase transitions, potential-dependent electronic properties, variable oxidation and protonation states, and disordered local/surface phases. These properties make understanding the OER, and ultimately designing higher-efficiency catalysts, challenging. Measurements of intrinsic activity show that, by far, the most-active phases for OER under alkaline conditions are Fe-containing mixed-metal oxyhydroxides, but exactly how the function remains controversial. I will discuss our work to understand the key properties of these catalysts, including morphology, composition, and molecular/electronic structure, and how they evolve and are dynamic under active catalytic conditions. These concepts inform design strategies for higher-performance catalyst architectures and for their incorporation into practical electrolyzer devices to make clean hydrogen fuel from inexpensive renewable electricity.

The seminar will be hosted by Prof. Nicholas Stadie.

Friday, Oct. 2

Dr. Dipti Nayak, Assistant Professor of Genetics, Genomics and Development at UC Berkeley will present

"CRISPR-guided Insights into the Physiology and Evolution of Methanogenic Archaea"

Her website   UCB website   Google Scholar

Members of the Archaea (the third domain of life) that can produce methane are referred to as methanogens. These organisms are prevalent in a wide range of anoxic environments, including the human distal gut, and account for 75 to 80 percent of the annual methane emissions on our planet. Therefore methanogens have significant implications for climate science, biotechnology and even aspects of human health. Despite their importance, the physiology and evolution of methanogens is still poorly understood. At this talk, I will first discuss the development of high-throughput genetic approaches, including CRISPR-Cas9 based tools, to study these pivotal microorganisms. Subsequently, I will describe two examples to highlight how the application of these genetic approaches have transformed our view of the unique biochemistry and evolution of enzymes involved in methanogenic metabolism.

Prof. Roland Hatzenpichler is the host of this seminar. 

Friday, Oct. 9 

Going to Industry from MSU: What you need to do and what to expect.

Dr. John Kiely

During this seminar, Dr. John Kiely will teach you how to successfully create an effective resume’, a research summary sheet, and a cover letter. Dr. Kiely will explain how to develop a competitive application portfolio. In addition, Dr. Kiely will discuss the skills that you need to acquire during your graduate studies to be successful as an industrial chemist or biochemist.

Dr. Kiely earned his undergraduate degree from Montana State University and his Ph.D. from North Dakota State University. He performed postdoctoral research at the University of California-Berkeley before having a successful 25 year career in industry. Dr. Kiely worked for Parke Davis and then for Biotechnology Companies.

Friday, Oct. 23

BETÜL KAÇAR, PH.D., Assistant Professor, University of Arizona

Understanding the paleomolecular evolutionary history of life on Earth through integrative molecular systems

Her website    Paper describing her lab’s approach

Webex link to talk of Betul Kacar  3:10 pm

Webex link to virtual happy hour  5:00 pm 

The suite of life’s essential chemical elements on Earth constitutes only one possible evolutionary outcome. A greater understanding of factors governing the natural selection of elements in Earth’s past will create a predictive capacity for detecting and assessing life’s existence on worlds where alternate evolutionary paths may have been taken. In my talk, I will discuss our approach on the laboratory generation of novel interfaces between self-organizing biotic and abiotic chemistries, and alternative biologies that may not limited by life's extant genetic, enzymatic and metal cofactor-catalyzed molecular architecture. 

Dr. Roland Hatzenpichler host.

Friday, Oct 30  -Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Seminar SPECIAL TIME 

Webex link (JhYgxV4mZ47) 9-10am

Her website   Google Scholar



Microbial communities have profound impacts on their hosts as well as on ecosystem‐level processes. How microbes interact within these natural communities, however, remains largely unknown. The Shank lab addresses this gap by investigating microbial interspecies interactions mediated by specialized metabolites, defining the molecular basis of how these compounds impact bacterial differentiation, and examining the microscale interactions of cells in native and model microcosms. To do so we use a mix of traditional microbiology and genetics, coculture screening, bioinformatics, fluorescence microscopy, and mass spectrometry. Our overarching goal is to understand how microbial communities and their metabolite signals intersect to generate functional biological systems and to identify bioactive compounds to manipulate microbial communities to improve host health and the environment. 

Friday, Oct 30 

Mr. Mani Stubbs, Assistant Director for Career Education and Development, Allen Yarnell Center for Student Success (MSU) will present a seminar titled "Online Networking & Your Virtual Brand: Using LinkedIn and HireABobcat.com."

Summary: In an increasingly virtual world, online networking and building your virtual brand has never been more important.  Join MSU Career, Internship & Student Employment Services to leverage online platforms LinkedIn and HireABobcat.com, powered by Handshake to market your skills, build professional relationships, and pursue endless career opportunities.   

Friday, Nov 6

Dr. Joanna Atkin, Assistant Professor at University of North Carolina Department of Chemistry will present 

a seminar titled “Near-field optical spectroscopy for the study of electronic properties in semiconducting nanostructures.”  

Abstract: Semiconducting nanostructures have been proposed as platforms for a wide variety of photonic, electronic, and photovoltaic elements. In order to realize these applications, careful design and characterization of electronic properties such as dopant concentration, activation, and distribution are needed. I will discuss the use of near-field optical microscopy as a non-destructive method for chemical, structural, and electronic imaging in nanomaterials. Near-field optical techniques can break the diffraction limit to provide nanometer scale information through the lightning-rod properties of an atomic force microscopy tip, but interpretation can be challenging due to convolutional effects. I will focus on two applications in semiconducting nanostructures that illustrate the importance of understanding the influence of the tip and controlling near-field interactions. In the first example, we use infrared near-field spectroscopy to resolve free-carriers in axially-doped silicon nanowires (SiNWs). We can detect local changes in the electrically-active doping concentration from the free-carrier absorption in both n-type and p-type doped SiNWs. The high spatial resolution (< 20 nm) allows us to directly measure dopant transition abruptness in single and multi-junction SiNWs. This is especially valuable in boron-doped p-type SiNWs, for which nanometer-scale information on the junction properties is difficult to obtain without intensive processing. In the second example, we use nano-Raman spectroscopy to study functionalized graphene, a derivative of graphene with a band gap. The high degree of chemical and physical disorder can be resolved with near-field spectroscopy, demonstrating its utility in understanding how local properties of nanomaterials affect functionality in optoelectronic and photovoltaic devices.

Prof. Erik Grumstrup host.

WEBEX invite


Monday, Nov 9 - 4th year Graduate Student Seminar

Mr. Devin McGlamery will present his research in a seminar titled "Phonon Dispersion Relation of Bulk Boron-Doped Graphitic Carbon."  Devin is a 4th year PhD student working in the lab of Dr. Nick Stadie.    3:10 pm 

WEBEX invite


Thursday, Nov 12 - 4th Year Graduate Student Seminar

Mr. John Russell will present his research in a seminar titled "Ni-Catalyzed Cross-Couplings of Phenolic Electrophiles."  John is a 4th Year PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Sharon Neufeldt.  3:10 pm Byker

WEBEX invite


Friday, Nov 13 - PhD Defense in Chemistry

Ms. Emily Reeves will defend her PhD in Chemistry beginning with a seminar titled "Mechanistic Studies and New Methodologies Relevant to Palladium-catalyzed Chemodivergent Cross-couplings."  Emily works in the lab of Dr. Sharon Neufeldt lab.  11 am via WEBEX



Friday Nov 13

Dr. Zhongyue Yang from the Dept. of Chemistry, Vanderbilt University will present a seminar titled "Chemical Dynamics of Biomolecules."


The advancement of computational methods and techniques has boosted the evaluation, understanding, prediction, and design of biochemical transformations. In this talk, I will present the development of a quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) method, environment-perturbed transition state sampling, to simulate time-resolved mechanisms for SpnF enzyme-catalyzed Diels–Alder reactions. I will discuss the use of a GPU-accelerated larger-scale quantum mechanics technique to evaluate the entropy and enthalpy for a mechanically-interlocked molecular switch, lasso peptide Benenodin-1. Finally, I will briefly introduce our ongoing construction of a new enzymology database that integrates structure, kinetics, and simulation data in one place to allow efficient development of data-driven models for functional enzyme discovery.

3:10 pm WEBEX , Dr. Sharon Neufeldt host.






Spring 2020

Thursday, January 9 

Graduate Students, Emerald Ellis (DuBois Lab), Danica Walsh (Livinghouse Lab), Alexandra Cheney (Copié Lab) and Sarah Hopfner (Cloninger Lab) will compete in the Department's first "Three Minute Thesis" competition.  The winner will represent the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the CLS competition to be held in the early spring.  2 pm in the Byker Auditorium.    

The Three Minute Thesis is a competition developed by The University of Queensland in which students present their thesis research in 3 minutes to a general audience. For more information about the event, eligibility, and resources go to http://www.montana.edu/clstmt/.

Friday, January 24 -

Dr. Joshua Heinemann (Research Scientist/Engineer, Computer and Electrical Engineering, Montana State University
Affiliate, Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
President, Cascade Fluidics LLC.) will present "Innovating Synthetic Biology and XFEL Sample Delivery Using Programmable Microfluidics." 3:10 pm in the Byker.  Dr. Heinemann completed his PhD at MSU in the lab of Professor Brian Bothner.


Enzymatic pathway engineering often requires expensive reagents, tedious manipulations, and significant time
commitment. These shortcomings can be overcome using digitally operated microfluidic devices that require
reduced sample volumes to automate biochemical reactions and can be conducted at significantly higher speeds
than humans or conventional robotics can undertake. One particular challenge is integrating bioassays with
expensive scientific instrumentation. Towards this goal I have developed programmable, high-speed microfluidic
devices, a highly sensitive and high throughput technique that integrates droplet microfluidics with nanostructure-initiator mass spectrometry (NIMS) and XFEL crystallography. Enzymatic reactions are carried out in droplets that can be arrayed into discrete elements at defined time intervals for subsequent analysis, enabling time resolved enzyme activity assay. I apply the platform for kinetic characterization of a glycoside hydrolase enzyme (CelE-CMB3A), a chimeric enzyme capable of deconstructing plant hemicellulose into monosaccharides and for mapping electron transfer in photosystem II.


Friday, February 14 

Prof. Christian Melander from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Notre Dame. Tom Livinghouse host.

Monday, February 24

Faculty Candidate Seminarfor the cryo-EM position. Dr. Shabih Shakeel - Cambridge,  The title of his seminar is DNA Damage Repair and the Fanconi Anaemia Monoubiquitin Ligase Complex."  4 pm Byker

Friday, February 28

Graduate Recruiting Day

Tuesday, March 3 - PhD Defense in Chemistry

Ms. Märtha Welander will defend her PhD in Chemistry beginning with a seminar titled "Operando Optical Studies of Next Generation Anode Materials in High Temperature Solid Oxide Fuel Cells."  12:30 pm Byker Auditorium.  Märtha works in the laboratory of Prof. Rob Walker.

Wednesday, March 11 - Ph.D Defense in Chemistry

Ms. Danica Walsh will defend her PhD in Chemistry beginning with a seminar titled "Design, Synthesis and Evaluation of Novel Antimicrobials for the Eradication of Biofilms."  2 pm in the Byker Auditorium.  Danica works in the laboratory of Prof. Tom Livinghouse.

Thursday, March 12 

Dr. Jean-Hubert Olivier from the Department of Chemistry, University of Miami will present "Expanding the Toolbox to Modulate the (Opto)electronic Properties of π-Conjugated Superstructures."  3:30 pm Byker Auditorium.  Prof. Erik Grumstrup host.

Friday, March 13 

Dr. Stephen Sprang (Director at the Center for Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, University of Montana) will present “How Ric-8 wrangles G proteins.”   3:10 pm in the Byker Auditorium.  Prof. Martin Lawrence host

Monday, March 30 - PhD Defense in Chemistry

Ms. Casey Hickey will defend her PhD in Chemistry beginning with a seminar titled “Characterizing Excited State Transport and Charge Carrier Dynamics in Lead Halide Perovskites.”12 noon Byker Auditorium.  Casey works in the laboratory of Professor Erik Grumstrup.

Monday, March 30 - MS Defense in Biochemistry

Mr. Alex Charbonneau will defend his MS in Biochemistry beginning with a seminar titled (TBD).  Alex works in the lab of Prof. Martin Lawrence.  4:10 pm in the Byker Auditorium. 

Thursday, April 9 - PhD Defense in Biochemistry

Ms. Natsha Pence will defend her PhD in Biochemistry beginning with a seminar.  11 am in the Byker Auditorium Natsha is co-advised by Drs. Peters and DuBois.

Friday, May 8

Graduate Student Seminar Katie Steward (Brian Bothner lab)

Fall 2019

Friday, August 30 

Prof. Erik Grumstrup  (Dept. of Chemistry and Materials Science MSU) will kick off our fall seminar series with a presentation titled "Dynamics at the mesoscale: time resolved microscopy of chemical systems from 10^-3 to 10^5 daltons."  3:10 pm in the Byker Auditorium.

Tuesday, September 3

Ms. Ece Topuzlu will defend her Ph.D. in Biochemistry beginning with a seminar titled "Biochemical and Biophysical Characterization of Plastic Degrading Aromatic Polyesterases."  Ece works in the laboraotry of Prof. Valérie Copié.3 pm in the Byker Auditorium.

Friday, September 6 -

Ms. Emerald Ellis will present her fourth year graduate student seminar titled "Controlling Oxygen's Potential for Fun and Profit." Emerald is Ph.D student in Jen DuBois' Lab.  3:10 pm in the Byker Auditorium

Friday, September 13

Prof. Dong Wang (U of Montana) will present "High-valent Co2(μ-O)2 Diamond Core Complexes: New Bio-inspired Strategies for Aliphatic C-H Bond Activation."  Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm  Prof. Sharon Neufeldt host.

Friday September 20 - open

Friday, September 27 - 

MUS Materials Science Symposium

Friday, October 4 - 

Dr. David Tyler (Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Oregon) will present "Homing Pigeons, Degradable Plastics, and Solvent Effects; How Caged Radical Pairs Impact Everyday Chemistry."  Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm.  Prof. Mike Mock host.


How do homing pigeons navigate?  How do we design plastics so they degrade after they are used?  Why are solar energy conversion systems with donor and acceptor complexes so inefficient?  Why do bonds break more readily if they are under mechanical stress?  It turns out that radical cage effects are important in understanding the answers to these and numerous other practical questions involving chemical reactivity.  In this seminar, I will introduce the concept of caged radical pairs, and then I will show why caged radical pairs are key intermediates in the systems mentioned above and in radical reactions, in general. 

Friday, October 11 

Mr. Jesse Peach will present "Making Sense of Complex Biological Fluids Using Mass Spectrometry" as part of his 4th year graduate student PhD requirement in Biochemistry. Jesse works in the lab of Prof. Brian Bothner.

Thursday, October 17

Dr. Alan Weaver (U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, Fort Sam Houston, TX will present "Insights into Burn Wound Infection & the Post-Doctoral Experience in the U.S. Army Research Sector" in the Byker Auditorium at 3:00 pm. Alan graduate from our Department with a Ph.D in Biochemistry.  Prof. Valerie Copie will host. 

Friday, October 18

Ms. Amanda Fuchs will defend her PhD in Biochemistry beginning with a seminar titled "Quantitative 1H NMR Analyses of Immunometabolic Modulation in Human Macrophages.” Amanda works in the lab of Prof. Valérie Copié.  3:10 pm in the Byker Auditorium.

Friday, October 25 

Dr. May Nyman from Oregon State University will present "Building Materials from Molecular Clusters" in the Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm.  Prof. Nick Stadie will host.


Metal-oxo clusters are modular building blocks for materials via hydrolysis reactions and coordination chemistry. Landmark discoveries in cluster-based materials include zeolites and MOFs. Understanding and controlling solution phase reaction pathways from monomers to clusters to materials (and vice versa) will lead to new discoveries from across the periodic table, and most aspirational, the next new class of cluster-based materials.

I will present an overview of our studies of metal-oxo clusters and their importance in functional materials and understanding reaction pathways, beginning with an introduction to small-angle X-ray scattering as a primary tool in studying cluster systems. Time permitting, presented cluster systems will include; 1) The iron Keggin ion and its relevance to natural systems; 2) Diversifying Zr/Hf oxocluster chemistry with peroxide (and use in microelectronics); 3) Behavior of Nb-POMs around neutral pH; and 4) heterometallic U(IV) clusters and materials.

Friday, November 1 

Nicholas J. Borys Department of Physics, Montana State University

Excitons in 2D Atomically Thin Semiconductors

Abstract: Transition metal dichalcogenide semiconductors, such as monolayer MoS2, are an emergent class of ultrathin thin semiconductors that are only three atomic layers thick yet host a rich suite of photophysical phenomena that provides new opportunities ranging from fundamental investigations of many-body physics to the development of new optoelectronic and quantum devices. In these atomically thin semiconductors, the absorption of light creates an “exciton,” which is an excited electronic state composed of a negatively charged conduction band electron that is tightly bound to a positively charged valence band hole. Like molecules, excitons govern light-matter interactions such as absorption and emission in 2D semiconductors and are fundamental packets of energy that can be leveraged for next-generation technologies. Using time-resolved and nano-optical spectroscopy techniques to access excitonic physics at extreme length and time scales, a striking diversity of excitonic phenomena has been identified in these 2D materials. Building on previous results, our newest findings in these regimes highlight how exciton populations can be coerced into interacting to form bound states of multiple electrons and holes as well as how strain localizes excitons on length scales that are commensurate with their size. These new results demonstrate the exciting potential of monolayer semiconductors to be utilized for model optoelectronic and quantum devices with unique functionalities derived from 2D excitonic physics.

Tuesday, November 5

PhD Defense in Chemistry

Ms. Grace Purnell will defend her PhD in Chemistry beginning with a seminar titled "Unusual Isomerization Behavior of Organic Solutes at the Aqueous-Silica Interface." Byker Auditorium at 3 pm.  Grace works in the lab of Professor Rob Walker. 

Thursday, November 7

Mr. Colin Miller will defend his PhD in Chemistry beginning with a seminar titled "Redox Homeostasis and Stress in Mouse Livers Lacking the NADPH-dependent Disulfide Reductase Systems."  2 pm in the Byker Auditorium. Profs. Mary Cloninger and Ed Schmidt are the advisors. 

Thursday, November 7 

Prof. Takamitsu Kohzuma, Institute of Quantum Beam Science Institute, and the Frontier Research Center of Applied Atomic Sciences, Ibaraki University, Mito, Ibaraki will present

"The Strong Weak-Interaction in Protein"


Noncovalent weak interactions play important roles in biological systems [1]. In particular, such interactions in the second-coordination shell of metal ions in proteins modulate the structure and reactivity of the metal ion site in functionally significant ways.

Recently, we have demonstrated the perturbation of weak non-covalent interaction on the structure and properties of copper site in a blue copper protein, pseudoazurin (PAz) [2]. PAz is well known to work as an electron transfer protein to NO2- reductase and N2O reductase in denitrifying bacteria [3]. The weak interaction at Met16 with a copper coordinated histidine (His81) imidazole ring in the second coordination sphere provides significant effect not only for the PAz properties and local structure but also the whole protein stability [4].

In this lecture, I also would like to introduce the utilization of modern quantum beams involving Synchrotron X-ray, Neutron Beam, and Muon in bioinorganic chemistry.


  • K. Burley and G. A. Petsko, Science, 229, 23 (1985); O. Ymauchi, A. Odani, T. Kohzuma, H. Masuda, K. Toriumi, and K. Saito, Inog. Chem., 28, 4066-4068 (1989); T. Kohzuma, et al., J. Biol. Chem., 274, 11817-11823 (1999); R. F. Abdelhamid, Y. Obara, Y. Uchida, T. Kohzuma, D. M. Dooley, D. E. Brown, H. Hori, J. Biol. Inorg. Chem., 12, 165-173 (2007); D. Rokhsana, D. M. Dooley, R. K. Szilagyi, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 128, 15550-15551 (2006); A. Taborosi, T. Yamaguchi, A. Odani, O. Yamauchi, Bull. Chem. Soc. Jpn., in press.
  • Yamaguchi, K. Akao, A. Takashina, S. Asamura, M. Unno, R. K. Szilagyi, T. Kohzuma, RSC Adv., 6, 88358-88365 (2016); M. B. Fitzpatrick, Y. Obara, K. Fujita, D. E. Brown, D. M. Dooley, T. Kohzuma, R. S. Czernuszewicz, J. Bioinorg. Chem., 104, 250-260 (2010); T. Yamaguchi, J. Yano, Y. Vittal, Y. Nihei, H. Togashi, R. K. Szilagyi, T. Kohzuma, Bull. Chem. Soc. Jpn., 88, 1642-1652 (2015).
  • Kohzuma, S. Takase, S. Shidara, and S. Suzuki, Chem. Lett., 149-152(1993); K. Fujita, M. H.-Fujita, D. E. Brown, Y. Obara, F. Ijima, T. Kohzuma, D. M. Dooley, J. Inorg. Biochem., 115, 163-173 (2012)
  • F. Abdelhamid, Y. Obara, T. Kohzuma, J. Inorg. Biochem., 102, 1373- 1379 (2008); T. Yamaguchi, Y. Nihei, D. Southerlands, M. Stillman, T. Kohzuma, Protein Science, 1921-1931 (2017).

2 pm in ABB 138.  Prof. Robert Szilagyi host.  

Friday, November 8 

Dr. Aaron Wright from Pacific Northwest National Lab will present  "Cultivation- and Genome-Independent Functional Profiling of Microbiomes with Chemical Probes."

Abstract: We are developing and applying chemical probe approaches to characterize and quantify enzyme activities within environmental and host-associated microbial communities.  Specifically, our probe-based methods do not require genomes or genome inferences nor microbial cultivation to assess specific functional activity of microbial cells in complex communities. In host-associated and environmental systems we are using our probe-based approaches to delineate how perturbations or exposures create metabolic susceptibilities and alter microbial functions, community physiology, and community structure.  Our research is enabling the microbiome sciences community to move from functional inference to direct measurement.  3:10 pm in Byker.  Prof. Roland Hatzenpichler is the host. 

Tuesday, November 12 

Ms. Sarah Hopfner will present her research in a graduate student seminar titled "Drug Development for Tuberculosis: Making Drugs that Shut Down the Backup Power." 3 pm in the Byker Auditorium.  Professor Mary Cloninger is the research advisor. 

Friday, November 15  - Open

Friday, November 22 

Dr. Sean Brady (Rockefeller University) will present "Watch Your Step, There Is New Chemistry Everywhere."


The characterization of biologically active small molecules (natural products) produced by easily cultured bacteria has been a rewarding avenue for identifying novel therapeutics as well as gaining insights into how bacteria interact with the world around them. Large-scale sequencing of bacterial genomic and metagenomic DNA indicates that this traditional pure culture-based approach to studying bacterial natural products has only provided access to a small fraction of the diverse metabolites encoded by environmental microbiomes. In particular, these studies suggest that in most environments, uncultured bacteria outnumber their cultured counterparts by at least two orders of magnitude. Although there appears to be no easy way to culture this collection of unstudied microorganisms, we have developed culture-independent methods to circumvent this discovery bottleneck, which involve the extraction, cloning and heterologous expression of bacterial biosynthetic gene clusters directly from environmental samples. The application of these methods to the identification of new antibiotics from the global soil microbiome as well as metabolites encoded by the human microbiome will be discussed.  Prof. Roland Hatzenpichler is the host. 3:10 pm in the Byker.  

Wednesday, December 11

CHMY and BCH 494 students will present their research starting at 1 pm.  Each presentation will be aproximately 25 minutes.  Students presenting are Luke MacHale (Robert Szilagyi advisor),  Heath Weaver (Garrett Moraski advisor) and Brock Cone (Jovanka Voyich advisor).

Byker Auditorium 


Friday, December 13

Ece Topuzlu will discuss her recent findings from her PhD dissertation in a seminar titled "Characterization and Engineering of MHETase, a Plastic Degrading Polyesterase."  Ece completed all PhD degree requirements in September of 2019 but did some additioinal data collection and analysis for the past two months in the lab of Dr. Gregg Beckham at NREL.   Ece's research advisor is Valérie Copié .  Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm 

Abstract: Accumulation of synthetic plastics in the biosphere is leading to a global environmental crisis. In response, microbes are evolving strategies to convert man-made polymers into carbon and energy sources, and these systems offer a promising starting point to harness for biotechnological purposes towards plastics upcycling. To that end, Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6 was recently reported to secrete a two-enzyme system to deconstruct the abundant synthetic polyester, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), to its constituent monomers for further catabolism. The PETase enzyme specifically breaks down the PET polymer, liberating mono-(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalate (MHET), which is then cleaved to its constituent monomers, terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol, by MHETase. This talk will focus on the structure and function of MHETase. Crystal structured of MHETase solved at 1.6 Å reveals an α/β hydrolase fold with an additional lid domain. In addition, we have expressed and purified multiple mutants of MHETase and PETase to assess the function of the lid domain, and we have identified homologous enzymes from two other organisms also turnover MHET. Lastly, we have explored further into the synergistic reactions of PETase and MHETase together and constructed chimeras for assessing the optimum PET turnover. Taken together, these results offer new molecular-level insights into the two-enzyme system of I. sakaiensis in the breakdown of recalcitrant PET. 


Summer 2019

Monday, May 13 

Graduate Student Seminar -Stella Impano (Joan Broderick Lab) 2 pm Byker

Thursday, May 16

Graduate Student Seminar - Angela Patterson (Brian Bothner Lab) 3 pm Byker

Friday, June 7

Professor Samir Zard from École Polytechnique, Paris will present a seminar in the Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm.  Prof. Matt Cook is the host 

Thursday, June 13

Fourth Year Graduate Student Emily Reeves (Sharon Neufeldt Lab) will present "New Methodologies for Selective Palladium-Catalyzed Cross-Coupling Reactions.”  3 pm in the Byker Auditorium. 

Thursday, June 20

Elizabeth McDaniel, a 4th year graduate student in Prof. Joan Broderick's Lab will present a seminar titled "Discovery of Key Intermediates for Radical SAM Initiation in PFL-AE." 3 pm in the Byker Auditorium 

Friday, July 19  

Prof. Hirotomo Nishihara (Tohoku University)

Spring 2019                                              

Friday, Jan 11 

Prof. Jeremy Johnson from the Dept. of Chemistry and BIochemistry at Brigham Young University, will present "Distinguishing Nonlinear Terahertz Excitation Pathways with 2-Dimensional Spectroscopy." Byker Auditorium 3:10 pm. Prof. Erik Grumstrup host.

Friday, Jan 18

Dr. David Zigler Assistant Professor from the Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo.  will present "Electronic State Tuning through Metal-Ligand Covalency: First Row Transition Metals are Worth Exciting!" Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. Professor Erik Grumstrup is the host.

Thursday, Jan 24

Dr. Keith Hollis from the Dept. of Chemistry at Mississippi State University will present "Designing, Developing and Applying Molecules to Solve Tomorrow’s Problems: CCC-NHC Pincer Complexes: Early and Late Transition Metal Complexes – Synthesis & Applications."   Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm

Friday, Feb 1-

Dr. Anja Kunze  Asst. Professor, Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering (MSU) will present "Nano-Scaled Forces for Neurotherapeutics." Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm

Friday, Feb 8

Prof. Scott Warren from UNC, Chapel Hill will present "2D Heterostructures for Energy Storage and Electronics: Exploring the Limits of Weak and Strong Interlayer Interactions."  Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. Prof. Nicholas Stadie host.

Friday, Feb 15

Dr. Bryan Eichhorn from the University of Maryland, Dept of Chemistry and Biochemistry, will present "Unravelling the Solid-Electrolyte-Interphase (SEI) Chemistry in Li-ion and Li-S Batteries." Byker Auditorium 3:10 pm. Prof. Rob Walker host.

Friday, March 1

Dr. Mitch Smith (Michigan State, Department of Chemistry) will present "Catalytic C–H and N–H Bond Scission in Fine Chemical Synthesis and Energy Conversion."  Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. Prof. Joan Broderick is the host.

Friday, March 8

Dr. Alex Guo (Carnegie Mellon University) will present "Spectroscopic and Kinetic Studies of Catalytically Versatile Non-Heme Iron Enzymes."  Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. Prof. Jen DuBois host.

Friday, March 15 

Dr. Orion Berryman (University of Montana, Missoula)  will present "Anion Triple Helicates: Self-Assembly Directed by Halogen Bonding."  Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm.  Professor Mary Cloninger host.

Abstract; Anion directed self-assembly is inherently challenging in part due to the diffuse nature of anions and their variable binding geometries. In particular, the self-assembly of higher order anion helicates in solution is extremely rare. However, halogen bonding offers unique opportunities to address these challenges. 

Tuesday, March 26

Mr. Eric Smoll will defend his PhD in Chemistry beginning with a seminar titled "Reactive-Atom Scattering Dynamics and Liquid-Vacuum Interfacial Structure."  Eric works in the group of Prof. Tim Minton.  2pm ABB 138

Wednesday, March 27

Graduate Student Seminar - Max Koch will present "Development of a Multi-omics Method for the Analysis of Alzheimer's Disease.  Max works in the lab of Professor Ed Dratz.  1:00 pm in the Byker

Thursday, March 28

Ms. Mackenzie Fricke will defend her PhD in Biochemistry beginning with a seminar titled "Cancer Process Probed by Multivalency: Investigations with Galectin-3 and Lactose Functionalized Dendrimers." 10 am ABB 138.  Mackenzie works in the lab of Prof. Mary Cloninger.

Friday, March 29

Dr. Elliott Hulley (University of Wyoming) will present "Application of FLP Design Strategies to Organometallic Transformations."

Abstract: Metal-carbon bond formation is one of the most important steps in organometallic catalysis, particularly when formed by C-H activation. Understanding the free-energy landscapes of chemical transformations is critical for catalyst design and improvement. Our laboratory has been investigating the thermodynamics of C-H heterolysis, operative in many catalytic C-H functionalizations, using tunable pairs of electrophilic metal complexes and basic proton acceptors (analogous to main group Frustrated Lewis Pairs, FLPs). Advantageous use of FLP-inspired transition metal frameworks requires balancing nucleophile/substrate interactions against the nucleophile/metal interactions that quench metal reactivity and block binding sites. In this talk, recent developments in understanding how C-H bond acidities change upon metal coordination will be discussed, particularly within the context of catalytic organic transformations.

Prof. Michael Mock host

Thursday, April 4

Mr. Luke Berry will defend his PhD in Biochemistry beginning with a seminar titled "Relating Protein Structure to Function: How Protein Dynamics Maximizes Energy Gained by Electron Transfer in an Anaerobic Energy Conservation Mechanism."  11 am in the Byker Auditorium.  Luke works in the lab of Professor Brian Bothner.

Friday, April 5

Jacob Remington will defend his Ph.D. in Chemistry beginning with a seminar titled "Fluorescence Quenching in 2-Aminopurine-Labeled Model DNA Systems." Jacob works in the lab of Regents Professor, Patrik Callis. 11 am Byker 

Friday, April 5 

Prof. Timothy Warren (Georgetown University) will present "Modeling Nitric Oxide Signaling Chemistry at Copper and Lewis Acid Sites."  3:10 pm Byker Auditorium. Prof. Warren is the guest of Prof. Michael Mock host

Abstract: Nitric oxide (NO) plays numerous, disparate biological roles that include vasodilation in the cardiovascular system and host defense against microbial pathogens. Nonetheless, the discrete molecular mechanisms involved in NO signaling are not well understood: its molecular relatives S-nitrosothiols (RSNOs) and nitrite (NO2-) can also serve as reservoirs of NO-like behavior. Thus, an understanding of the discrete mechanistic pathways by which these species form, interconvert, and react with molecular targets of biological relevance is crucial to connect nitric oxide to physiological response. Through the use of synthetic models examined in our lab, we share new insights into the interconversion and biological reactivity of key molecules involved in nitric oxide signaling.

Monday, April 8

Dr. John Kiely will be giving a seminar entitled “An Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry…..More Stuff Than You Ever Wanted to Know."  4:10 pm in the Byker.

Dr. Kiely received his undergraduate degree from Montana State and his Ph.D. from North Dakota State University. He then had a long and productive career in industry working as a medicinal chemist.

Tuesday, April 9

Mr. Michael Giroux will defend his M.S in Chemistry beginning with a seminar titled  "Effect of Aryldimethylphosphine Electronics on Rate of Oxidative Addition of Aryl Electrophiles at Ni0".    11 am in the Byker Auditorium.  Mike works in the lab of Prof. Sharon Neufeldt.

Thursday, April 11

Mr. Samuel Bernhard will present "Glycopolymers as Multivalent Probes of Galectin-3" as part of his PhD defense in Chemistry.  Sam works in the lab of Professor Mary Cloninger.  3:10 pm in the Byker Auditorium.

Friday, April 12

Dr. Jon Tunge from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kansas will present “Development of Decarboxylative Coupling Reactions.”  Prof. Matt Cook host

Friday, April 19- University Holiday

Wednesday, April 24 

Ms. Genevieve Coe will defend her M.S in Biochemistry beginning with a seminar title "The Influence of Iron Bioavailability on the Mammalian Gut Microbiome."  Genevieve works in the lab of Prof. Jen DuBois.  1 pm Byker Auditorium. 

Friday, April 26

Ms. Casey Kennedy a fourth year graduate student working in the lab of Professor Erik Grumstrup will present “Carrier Transport and Recombination in Next Generation Photovoltaics.” 1 pm in the Byker Auditorium.

Friday, April 26

Dr. Joan Selverstone Valentine from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCLA & Division of Geological & Planetary Sciences, Caltech will present"How Manganese Empowered Life with Dioxygen (and vice versa)."


Throughout the history of life on Earth, abiotic components of the environment have shaped the evolution of life, and life, in turn, has shaped the environment. The element manganese embodies a special aspect of this collaboration; its history is closely entwined with those of photosynthesis and dioxygen —two reigning features that characterize the biosphere today. Manganese chemistry was central to the environmental context and evolutionary innovations that enabled the origin of oxygenic photosynthesis and the ensuing rise of dioxygen. It was also manganese chemistry that provided an early, fortuitous antioxidant system that was instrumental in how life came to cope with oxidative stress and ultimately thrive in an aerobic world. Subsequently, the presence of dioxygen transformed the biogeochemical dynamics of the manganese cycle, enabling a rich suite of environmental and biological processes involving high-valent manganese and manganese redox cycling. Bioinorganic chemistry and geobiology combined help us to understand manganese dynamics in the environment and the unique role of manganese in the history of life.

Graduate students host.                                       

Thursday, May 2

Ms. Katie Link will defend her Ph.D in Chemistry beginning with a seminar titled "Organic Enrichment at Aqueous Interfaces Studied with Non-linear Spectroscopy: Cooperative Adsorption of Soluble Saccharides to Lipid Monolayers."  Byker Aditorium at 2:30 pm.  Katie works in the lab of Prof. Rob Walker.

Friday, May 3

Dr. Joe Topczewski (University of Minnesota). Prof. Matt Cook host.

Fall 2018

Friday, August 31

Dr. Matthew Kieber-Emmons from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Utah will present a seminar titled “Mechanistic Insight into Water Oxidation with Copper.” Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. Prof. Mike Mock is the host.

Friday, Sept 7

Dr. Sean Roberts  from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Texas -Austin will be here.  Professors Walker and Grumstrup are the hosts. 

Monday,  Sept 10

Ms. Amanda Byer will defend her Ph.D in Biochemistry beginning with a presentation titled "Radical Chemistry - Mechanism and Function in the Radical SAM Superfamily."  Amanda's advisor is Prof. Joan Broderick. 1 pm in the Byker Auditorium.

Friday, Sept 21 

Dr. Gerhard Koenig, Research Associate, Institute for Quantitative Biomedicine, Rutgers University will present “Quantitative predictions of chemical equilibria based on computer simulations”. Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. Prof. Roland Hatzenpichler host.

Friday, Sept 28 - 

Dr. Francisco Asturias, from the School of Medicine, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Colorado will present "Cryo-EM Studies of Transcriptional Regulation by Mediator." Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. Prof. Martin Lawrence host.

Friday, Oct 5- open

Friday, Oct 12

Dr. Tom Autrey, Staff Scientist at PNNL will present "Using calorimetry to understand heterogeneous and homogeneous reactions." Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm.  Prof. Nicholas Stadie is the host.

Abstract: Calorimetry is generally recognized as an experimental technique to obtain thermodynamic data for chemical reactions, however, time dependent measurements of the heat flow can provide additional insight into kinetics of chemical transformation.  Our research has ranged from measuring the kinetics and thermodynamics of reactions of reactive intermediates on a microsecond time scale to reactions that occur over days.  I look forward to sharing how we use time-resolved reaction calorimetry to gain insight into both heterogeneous and homogeneous catalytic transformations on compounds and materials that show promise for energy storage applications.

Friday, Oct 19

Dr. Samuel Gellman from the Dept. of Chemistry at the Univeristy of Wisconsin-Madison will present be "Functional Foldamers." Prof. Mary Cloninger is the host. Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. This seminar is sponsored by the Grieco Distinguished Lectureship Series. 

Monday, Oct 22

Ph.D. Defense from Greg Prussia.  The title of his seminar is "Delineating the determinants of carboxylation in 2-ketopropyl coenzyme M oxidoreductase/carboxylase: A unique CO2-fixing flavoenzyme." 9 am Byker.  Greg is advised by Prof. John Peters.

Friday, Oct 26

Dr. John Kozarich.  Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. Prof. Joan Broderick is the host. 

Interview with Jon Kozarich

Friday, Nov 2

Kevin Hammonds, Assistant Professor in Civil Engeineering at MSU will present "From Avalanches to Ice Sheets: The Material Properties of Snow & Ice."  Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm.


When studied from a materials science perspective, large-scale and naturally-occurring phenomena, such as how an ice sheet viscously deforms or how an avalanche releases, can be understood through laboratory-scale investigations of the thermal and mechanical history of the snow and/or ice and its microstructure.  To derive these microstructural properties, many advanced materials characterization techniques can be employed, including the use of cross-polarized optical microscopy, micro-CT, scanning electron microscopy (including EBSD & EDS), and Raman spectroscopy.  With the application of these techniques combined with relatively small-scale laboratory experiments, many of the peculiar properties of ice and snow can begin to be unraveled.  Presented in this seminar, is an overview of the materials characterization techniques that are currently being applied to snow and ice at MSU, as well as the results from several previous and ongoing laboratory experiments that will further illustrate its many fascinating complexities.  These experiments will include results related to the crystallographic structure of ice, the effects of soluble impurities in ice, and the thermophysical properties of ice/snow interfaces…all of which are critical components for better understanding ice sheets and avalanches in our natural world.

Monday, Nov 5 

Ms. Melodie Machovina will defend her Ph.D in Biochemistry beginning with a presentation titled "Enzymatic strategies for harnessing and controlling the oxidative power of O2." Melodie's research advisor is Prof. Jen DuBois,  ABB 138 at 3 pm.

Friday, Nov 9

Dr. Robert Smith from University of Montana, Dept. of Computing.  Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. Prof. Brian Bothner host. 

Friday, Nov 16

Prof. Cecily Ryan (MSU M&IE) will present a seminar titled “Tailoring the mechanical and electrical properties of biopolymer blends via the incorporation of carbon nanofillers.”


Biobased fillers, such as bio-derived cellulose, lignin byproducts, and biochar, can be used to modify the thermal, mechanical, and electrical properties of polymer composites. We are interested in using char from lignin and agricultural byproducts to enhance the thermal and electrical conductivities in biopolymer composites. Biochar processed from these feedstocks can potentially serve as a bioderived graphitic carbon alternative for certain composite applications. In this work, we investigate a blended biopolymer system, polyhydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyvalerate (PHBV) with polylactide (PLA), to control the partitioning of electrically conductive nanofiller, carbon black (CB) and biochar. CB, a commonly used petroleum-derived functional nanofiller, serves as a comparison for our work on the incorporation of biochar into composites.  Kraft lignin is the feedstock for the biochar. Particulate affinity for the polymer phases affects nanofiller dispersion. I will present surface energy calculations and experimental results for phase-separation and nanofiller phase affinity in this system and how that modifies the percolation behavior in a phase-separated system. I will also show our initial results for electrical conductivity and mechanical behavior of the mixed-phase nanofilled composites.

Monday, Nov 19 

Ms. Danica Walsh (Livinghouse lab) will present her 4th year graduate student research seminar in the Byker Auditorium at 11 am.  The title of her presentation is "Design, Synthesis and Evaluation of Prodrugs to Control Biofilms."

Friday, Nov 30 

Dr. Ohyun Kwon from UCLA.  Byker Auditorium at 3:10 pm. Prof. Sharon Neufeldt host.

Title: Phosphine Organocatalysis


Soft nucleophilic phosphinocatalysis has been known since the 1960s as a result of the pioneering work of Horner, Price, Rauhut−Currier, and Morita. In the 1990s, Trost and Lu made important discoveries, reporting isomerization, umpolung addition, and [3+2] cycloaddition. Nonetheless, it was not until the 2000s that the area of phosphinocatalysis began to flourish. My group, through careful analysis of the mechanism of the phosphinocatalysis reactions, has demonstrated over two dozen new reactions facilitated by phosphine catalysts. The results are a one-step conversion of simple acyclic starting materials into various carbo- and heterocycles. The practical values of these one-step phosphine-catalyzed annulation processes are significant since (1) they are atom economic and environmentally friendly, and (2) the heterocycles are an immense class of organic compounds with numerous practical applications. One recent, particularly significant advancement is the creation of chiral phosphines that are derived from a natural amino acid, L-hydroxyproline. Their synthetic utility in the phosphine catalyzed annulations, application in total syntheses of (+)-ibophyllidine and (–)-actinophyllic acid, and commercialization will also be discussed. The phosphinocatalysis reactions that my group has developed have produced structurally varied heterocycles of immense value for numerous practical applications. To illustrate the utility of these heterocycles, my group has been engaged in chemical genetic studies, resulting in the identification of the following bio-modulators: (1) inhibitors of the enzymes GGTase‐I and Rab GGTase; (2) an anti-arrhythmic agent (named “efsevin”) to rescue zebrafish tremblor mutant; (3) an inhibitor (named “aplexone”) of cholesterol biosynthesis that is more potent than Pfizer’s Lipitor; (4) compounds inhibiting cell migration and cell invasion; (5) interferon γ‐like compounds that augment innate immune responses of macrophages; (6) inhibitors of cytotoxic T cell lytic granule exocytosis; and (7) inhibitors of serine hydrolases that are specific for platelet-activating factor acetylhydrolases 1b2 and 1b3 (PAFAH1b2/3). Chemical biological studies related with these molecules will be presented during the talk. In addition, recent development in phosphine oxide catalysis research will also be introduced. 

Wedneday, Dec 5

Ms. Elizabeth Corbin will defend her Ph.D. in Biochemistry beginning with a seminar titled "Complexation of Lipids with Cyclodextrin Carriers for Fully Defined Supplementation of Cell Culture." 2 pm in the Byker Auditorium.  Elizabeth works in the laboratory of Professor Ed Dratz.

Friday, Dec 7

Capstone senior seminars for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry will be presented from 1-3 pm in the first floor conference room in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Building. Presenters are Tricia Brandenburg, Daniel Goettlich, Matt Hall, Alex Morren and Alexia Olson. 

Titles of Presentations

Alexia Olson “Agrobacterium tumefaciens/arsenic” Advisor: Valerie Copié

Daniel Goettlich “In situ, high temperature characterization of proton conducting ceramics using Raman spectroscopy”  Advisor: Rob Walker

Tricia Brandenburg “Polyurethane Chemistry and working in industry” Advisor: Alan Cain, Chemline

Matt Hall "Computationally Generated Ionic Liquids."  Advisor: Tim Minton

Friday, Dec 7

Dr. Sergey Pronin from the Department of Chemistry at UC Irvine will present "New methods and Strategies in the Synthesis of Natural Products."  3:10 pm in the Byker. Prof. Tom Livinghouse host.

Tuesday, Dec 11

Mr. Chase Austvold will defend his MS in Biochemistry beginning with a seminar titled "Partitioning of Reactive Oxygen Species via the Re-Oxidation of Electron Transfer Flavoprotein."  Chase is advised by Prof. Ed Dratz. 

Thursday, Dec 13

Fourth year Graduate Student Seminar

Ms. Ece Topuzlu, Department Chemistry & Biochemistry, Montana State University

Title: Biophysical and Surface Characterization of Plastic Degrading Polyesterases

Abstract: Recalcitrance to natural degradation of synthetic plastics such as poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) is problematic in the world’s ecosystems. Several cutinases isolated from fungal species have been shown to enzymatically degrade PET to a limited extent. The discovery of Ideonella sakaiensis, and its ability to grow on PET as a major carbon source has led to the identification of two of the key enzymes responsible for hydrolysis of PET. These enzymes, named PETase and MHETase, act in a concerted manner to convert PET into its monomers and building blocks, respectively. This seminar will highlight the enzymatic capabilities of PETase on industrially relevant substrates, its localization in cells in vivo, and its synergistic activity with MHETase for PET degradation.

12 noon in the Byker.  Ece is in the lab of Professor Valérie Copié