As any kid who has read a cereal box knows, the human body needs to take in certain essential vitamins and minerals to function properly.
Since 2000, Chemistry Professor Sharon Burgmayer and her research team have examined the relationship of the metal molybdenum to human health. Burgmayer and her team recently received an additional grant of nearly $285,000 to continue the research for three more years. All the funding for the research has come from the National Institutes of Health.
“Molybdenum isn’t as well known to the general public as are metals like iron, copper, and zinc but it’s extremely important to human health,” says Burgmayer. “Of approximately 60 known molybdenum enzymes, humans and other mammals possess four. Of these four, one recently identified molybdoprotein is involved in activating certain drugs and one is absolutely required for proper brain and neurological development. The goal of our project is to gain a more detailed understanding of how the environment around molybdenum in molybdoenzymes is critical to the enzyme behavior.”
Over the past decade, more than 50 undergraduates and five graduate students have contributed to this research.
“Working in Dr. B’s lab has been a great experience,” says Chemistry major Anna Kalinsky ’14. “Unlike the undergraduate experience in many labs, I’m not just a grunt worker. I don’t just make starting material for grad students’ projects or wash glassware for experienced members. Ever since joining, I’ve been considered a full member of the lab. I’m treated like a scientist, and as such I’ve grown as a student as well as a researcher.”
In March, Kalinsky will join Alexandra Kirsch ’14, Stephanie Yang ’15, and graduate student Ben Williams at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Dallas. Williams will give a talk on his Ph.D. research and Kalinsky, Kirsch and Yang will present their research at a poster session.
“One of my greatest joys at BMC is encouraging students to become involved in research then watching them grow and flourish as independent researchers,” says Burgmayer. “My research group feels like a family: we share joys and concerns, expertise, and knowledge.”
Courses taught by Burgmayer have included Inorganic Chemistry, Research Methods I and II, General Chemistry, Bioinorganic Chemistry, Group Theory, and The Stuff of Art, a course in which Burgmayer combines the “creation of art” with the “doing of science.”
For more about Burgmayer’s research and the work of her group, visit her webpage.
Bryn Mawr’s Chemistry Department combines high quality, visible research programs with excellent teaching. Students have the opportunity to work side by side with faculty as researchers. The chemistry major program of study includes introductory and advanced courses in the core areas of biological, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry. Advanced courses are informed by the research areas of bioinorganic, nanomaterials, medicinal, computational, organic materials, and nucleic acid and protein chemistry.