The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to have remote seminars during the 2020-2021 academic year. While it meant no shared meals between speakers and students, we were able to hear from more geographically diverse scientists than usual. For example, the first BMB speaker of the year was Prof. Rachel Martin from the University of California, Irvine, who presented her work on using NMR spectroscopy to investigate biological molecules. Prof. Kathryn Riley from Swarthmore College was our first Sceptical Chymists speaker, and she discussed her lab’s development of analytical techniques to study silver nanoparticles.
Over the course of the year, we heard about a wide variety of work ranging from studying the regulation of the cytoskeleton using Drosophila as a model to the reactivity of strained allenes and alkynes to the characterization of artifacts from archeological sites. Our speakers included Prof. Krystle McLaughlin from Vassar College, Prof. Neil Garg from UCLA, Prof. Derek Applewhite from Reed College, Prof. Julio de Paula from Lewis and Clark College, Prof. Ryan Walvoord from Ursinus College, and Prof. Alaaldin Alkilany from the University of Jordan. Additionally, there were two interdisciplinary speakers sponsored by X-SIG: Prof. Paul Turner from Yale, and Prof. Jeff White (’77) from Indiana University.
Seminars were back on campus during the 2021-2022 academic year! The Sceptical Chymists speakers included Prof. Khanh-Hoa Tran-Ba from Towson University (single-molecule fluorescence to study soft materials), Prof. William McNamara from the College of William and Mary (transition metal catalysis for artificial photosynthesis), Prof. Kathleen Howard from Swarthmore College (magnetic resonance studies of membrane-bound proteins), and our own Visiting Assistant Professor Ashlee Plummer (structural characterization of membrane-bound proteins).
BMB speakers were Prof. Rebecca Switzer from Bucknell University (disease-related implications of mutated DNA methyltransferases), Prof. Jebrell Glover from Lehigh University (study of caveolin-1/membrane interactions), Prof. Lisa Jones from the University of Maryland (development of mass spectrometry-based methods to study protein-protein interactions), and two Gettysburg College professors: Prof. Jennifer Powell from Biology and Prof. Caitlin Hult from Mathematics. We also had a timely X-SIG-sponsored seminar from Prof. Glenn Rall from the Fox Chase Cancer Center about immune responses to viruses and how it relates to COVID-19 infections