Sherrer and SMCM colleagues awarded science grant

Randolph K. Larsen, left, professor of chemistry; Geoffrey M. Bowers, assistant professor of chemistry; Assistant Professor of Biochemistry Shanen Sherrer; Jessica L. Malisch, assistant professor of physiology; Pamela S. Mertz, professor of chemistry and biochemistry; and Doug Hovland, laboratory coordinator, recently secured a National Science Foundation grant for St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

St. Mary’s College of Maryland was awarded its first National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Program grant using lead investigator Assistant Professor of Biochemistry Shanen Sherrer’s expertise on circular dichroism spectroscopy.

Geoffrey M. Bowers, assistant professor of chemistry; Randolph K. Larsen, professor of chemistry; Jessica L. Malisch, assistant professor of physiology; and Pamela S. Mertz, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, are co-principal investigators, with assistance from Doug Hovland, laboratory coordinator, as senior staff and collaboration with Lindsay Jamieson, associate professor of computer science, on this project.

The $121,819 NSF grant provides funding for acquisition of a circular dichroism spectrometer and accompanying equipment for faculty research and student training opportunities, according to a release from the college.

The acquired spectrometer will monitor rotational change in circular polarized light as it passes through a sample with chirality (molecules with non-superimposable bonds like a mirror image). Most biomolecules and metal-containing complexes have at least one chiral center and thus are favored for circular dichroism spectroscopic studies in biochemistry, biology, biophysics, inorganic chemistry, materials science and geochemistry.

The spectrometer will be used by faculty and undergraduate researchers for probing macromolecular structures or changes to chemical properties under specific experimental conditions to yield information on structural composition, stability, changes and thermodynamics of targeted molecules.

The circular dichroism spectrometer planned for purchase is a high performing model with a wide range of accessories for maximum flexibility in both research and teaching applications, according to the release. The acquisition of a spectrometer by St. Mary’s College will significantly advance several critical research projects in the areas of biology, biochemistry, geochemistry, and environmental studies.