REU Site: Catalysis and Motion

Project: Research project

Project Details


Professors Squire Booker, Tiffany Mathews, and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University host the REU Site: Catalysis and Motion. This site is funded by the REU Site Programs of the Division of Chemistry and Division of Biological Infrastructure. Its provides research experiences for 9 undergraduate students for 10 weeks during the summer months. The motivation for the program is the recognition that hands-on research experience at an early stage has an enduring impact on students' careers. Participation in hands-on research encourages students to pursue advanced degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Early participation in research is also critical to inspire undergraduate students to take on global scientific challenges such as the growing energy crisis and the environment, clean water, infection, antibiotic resistance and other health crises, and agriculture and food production for an increasing population. Students are recruited nationwide, with a strong emphasis on students from underrepresented and underserved groups. Each student is supervised by a faculty mentor, and the program structure provides opportunities for cross-collaboration with students and faculty in other research groups in the department and across the university. Students work daily on their research projects; attend weekly research seminars; participate in professional development workshops and outreach events; and deliver research presentations. Interactions with professional industrial chemists, including site visits to companies and seminars, give students career information and inspiration. Formative and summative assessment is conducted, and students' careers are tracked during and after their participation. The goal is to help, inspire, and retain undergraduate students in scientific careers by providing them with a strong educational, mentoring, and research training experiences.

Many of the leading global scientific challenges require a deeper understanding of both biological and chemical catalysis, and the subsequent or parallel ability to evolve new and better catalysts for an increasing demand for clean, renewable and sustainable energy, food, clean air, pharmaceuticals, diagnostic tools for healthcare, and consumer products and other necessities. Moreover, the ability to manipulate or regulate biological catalysts within human cells is the foundation of current therapeutics for a multitude of diseases. Students are recruited to work in the following areas: 1) Understanding Macromolecular Catalysis, which focuses on understanding how protein enzymes, protein metalloenzymes, and RNA enzymes catalyze reactions with rate enhancements and high stereoselectivities and regioselectivities; 2) Dynamics of Biological Processes, which focuses on understanding how protein movement or 'dynamics' relates to enzyme catalysis and the regulation of enzyme catalysis, molecular motors, and the movement or 'trafficking' of various types of macromolecules and small molecules within the cell; 3) and New Insights into Chemical Catalysis, which involves the synthesis and characterization of chemical catalysts for a variety of processes, including the generation of new fuel sources and target-oriented organic synthesis.

Effective start/end date6/1/1711/30/21


  • National Science Foundation: $286,038.00


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