Impact of Molecules, Morphology and Nano/microstructures in Sensing, Optical, Energy and Display applications

Chemistry Department Seminar Faculty Candidate
Dr. Kaushik Balakrishnan

Monday March 2, 2015 – 4:00 PM
Chem-Sci 101

The ability to control optical and electrical properties of materials as a function of size and dimension has profound implications in numerous miniaturized technologies such as sensing, communication, lighting, display, optical and electrical circuits, and energy applications. This talk will unravel critical information about molecular stacks from individual molecular entities and advance to our newly uncovered possibilities to co-¬‐localize, and co-¬‐assemble two distinct molecular entities in a single stack of highly organized assemblies. Such self-¬‐assembled structures show immense potential in photonic and opto-¬‐electronic devices and are a promising approach for advancing organic electronic materials in advance applications.
Second part of this talk will focus on energy harvesting and storage. The nanocarbon structures such as carbon nanotubes, and graphene are highly attractive for use as electrodes in supercapacitors, and lithium ion batteries. The detailed workings of the recent breakthroughs in ‘in-¬‐plane’ geometry that enables an ultrathin, flexible, and solid-¬‐state graphene based supercapacitors will be described. Also, nanocomposites for achieving high performance electrolytes capable of withstanding high temperatures with large voltage windows for next generation of supercapacitors and batteries will also be described.

Synthesis of Taiwaniadducts I and J

Xin Yan
Original Research Proposal
Michigan Technological University
Department of Chemistry
Advisor-Dr. Lanrong Bi
Thursday, February 26, 2015
9:00 am Admin Building Room 404
The Taiwaniadducts I and J, as cycloadducts of terpene quinones from taiwania cryptomerioides, will be synthesized. These two compounds are isolated from Taiwania cryptomerioides hayata, a large coniferous evergreen species common to Taiwan. They have potential in medical applications due to the breadth of their biological activities. However, low yields of these naturally extracted compounds limits further research on their biological activities and no synthetic approaches to these two compounds have been reported before. Herein, we design a synthetic route which can provide adequate quantities of target compounds for further biological studies. Moreover, the design methodology involved in this proposal may show a reasonable approach to the synthesis of this kind of cycloadducts.

Upper Peninsula ACS Local Section Research Seminar

Upper Peninsula ACS Local Section Research Seminar

“Carbon Nanomaterials: from Zero-dimensional Cages to Three-dimensional Graphene Sheets “

Dr. Yun Hang Hu,  Charles and Carroll McArthur Endowed Chair Professor
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Michigan Technological University

February 27, 2015 – 3:00 PM – Rekhi Hall G006


Because of the bonding flexibility of carbon, carbon-based materials exhibit various structures with a large variety of physical and chemical properties. Three-dimensional carbon allotropes (graphite and diamond) have been known from the earliest history. The zero-dimensional carbon fullerenes and one-dimensional carbon nanotubes were discovered within the last 30 years. Furthermore, isolated two-dimensional graphene, which is a one-atom thick carbon layer with hexagonal ‘‘honeycomb” lattice, was experimentally obtained 10 years ago. Actually, the discovery of those nano-structured carbon materials is one of the most important developments in science and engineering. In this talk, Dr. Hu is going to discuss his research for (a) the defect structures and the endohedral complexes of C60, (b) the stability and structure of atomic carbon chains, and (c) the synthesis and application of three dimensional graphene sheets and their application for energy.

Dr. Yun Hang Hu is the inaugural Charles and Carroll McArthur Endowed Chair Professor at
Michigan Technological University. His main research interests range from nanomaterials, CO2 conversion, clean fuels, hydrogen storage materials, catalysis, quantum chemistry calculations to solar energy. He has published more than 120 peer reviewed papers in reputed journals (such as JACS, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., and Adv. Mater.) and organized more than 20 international symposia on materials and energy. He was a program chair for the ACS Energy and Fuels Division. He is an editor for three books, an editorial board member for nine journals, a chair of the ACS Energy and Fuels Division, and a president of the Hydrogen Storage Division of the International Association of Hydrogen Energy (IAHE). He is a fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).


Assessing the Binding Capabilities of Bromodomain-Containing Protein 9

Sarah Hopson (Advisor- Dr. Martin Thompson)

Doctoral Student, Department of Chemistry,Michigan Technological University

Monday, March 2, 2015-9:00 am- Admin 404


Post-translational modifications of histones, such as the acetylation of lysines, play an importantrole in regulating transcription. Histone tails have a large proportion of positively-charged residues, which create electrostatic interactions with the negatively-charged DNA backbone. Lysine acetylation is thought to weaken these interactions, because it neutralizes lysine’s positively-charged side chain.

Proteins recognize the acetylated lysines using bromodomains; bromodomains are acetylated lysine “readers” and play a critical role in modulation of gene expression. Of the 46 bromodomain-containing proteins in the human proteome, 15 function as transcriptional regulators and 8 function as chromatin remodelers. Nearly all of the other bromodomain proteins influence transcription in some manner (histone acetyltransferase, transcription repressor, transcription initiation, etc.). Due to their significant influence on transcription, mutations of bromodomains are often linked with cancers.

Bromodomain-containing protein 9 (BRD9) has not yet been studied. The aim of this proposed research is to determine the specificity and affinity of BRD9 toward acetyl-lysine sites on the tails of the four core histone proteins.

A high-throughput examination of possible histone interactions with the bromodomain of BRD9 will be conducted using a modified SPOT array. The peptides demonstrating the strongest interactions with the bromodomain will be synthesized using standard Fmoc peptide synthesis. A quantitative examination of the binding affinities of these peptides to the bromodomain, the bromodomain and DUF3512 (domain of unknown function), and the full length BRD9 will be conducted using isothermal titration calorimetry. The results will be compared to determine how the surrounding amino acid sequences affect the bromodomain’s binding capabilities.

Chemistry-themed Student Research Symposium at NMU, April 11, 2015

The Upper Peninsula Section of the American Chemical Society is now soliciting abstract submissions for the Student Research Symposium, which will be held at NMU’s New Science Facility in Marquette on Saturday, April 11, 2015.

The purpose of the event is to provide a venue for students to present their research in chemistry, chemical engineering and related fields. This symposium will be an excellent opportunity for students, faculty and the community at large to learn about the interesting research being conducted in the UP. This year the initiative will see the participation of presenters from schools within the Northeast Wisconsin local section.

Poster abstracts can be submitted online. The deadline for abstract submission is March 15. There is no registration fee.

Cash awards to the best posters will be given, and every participant will receive a gift from the UP local section.

Questions should be directed to Loredana Valenzano (, UPLS 2015 Chair.

From Tech Today.

Chemistry Professor Gives Women in STEM a Step Up

Pushpalatha Murthy (left) and Rohini Godbole at a STEM professional women's workshop in Bangalore.

Women may be an underrepresented group in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) at Michigan Tech, but Pushpalatha (Pushpa) Murthy is doing something about it—not only at Tech, but nationally and internationally.  A professor of chemistry at Michigan Tech, she is currently working at the National Science Foundation (NSF) as program director in the Division of Graduate Education.  She has been involved with the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) and the NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program.  She is also in charge of GRFP outreach activities to historically black colleges and universities.

Murthy recently worked with women in STEM in India. “I’ve always been interested in underrepresented groups in the STEM field,” states Murthy. In India, she focused on faculty and their professional development.

Traveling to both New Delhi in the north of India and Bangalore in southern India, Murthy and other leaders ran workshops for women in STEM, including programs like Career Launch and Acceleration, Factors that Impact Women’s Careers and The Art of Effective Negotiation. Murthy says the women faculty members were motivated and excited to participate in these workshops, as this was the first time they were attending workshops focused on their own advancement.  

“Most of the research on this topic has been conducted in the United States,” she explains. “Most other countries do not have research data on issues women in STEM or other careers face.   International women are very interested in the subject and want to know how the data apply to their situation.”  

Her passion for helping other women develop professionally started at Michigan Tech, where Murthy won the Distinguished Faculty Service Award and continued with her involvement in COACh (Committee on the Advancement of Women Chemists.) COACh has been growing its efforts for women scientists and engineers in the US and developing countries through a series of in-country career workshops and networking events.

Murthy is back in the US, but her passion for helping all underrepresented groups in their career development continues. “I’m interested in women in STEM across the globe and especially in the United States and India, because I’m from India and came here for my graduate studies,” she says. “It was been very exciting for me.  I want to share the research data and my experiences with others so they will have more opportunities.”




Chemistry Alumni Stephen F. Hahn 2014 College of Sciences and Arts Academy inductee

Stephen F. (Steve) Hahn is from Midland, MI and earned his BS in Chemistry from Michigan Technological University in 1982 and an MS in Chemistry from Central Michigan University in 1990. Steve joined The Dow Chemical Company in 1982 and has worked in a variety of research and new business development functions since that time. He currently heads Dow’s Ventures and Business Development group in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area. He holds 41 issued U.S. patents and numerous international patents, and has authored 40 publications in refereed journals and 6 chapters in scientific reference books.

Steve was named Dow Inventor of the Year in 1990 and 1996, delivered the Distinguished Alumni Lecture at Michigan Tech in 1996 and 2003, and received the Dow Excellence In Science Award in 1999. He was a Visiting Professor of Chemistry and IPrime Scholar at the University of Minnesota in 2002. He received the American Chemical Society Cooperative Research Award in 2008 and the Council for Chemical Research Collaboration Award in 2010. Steve has represented Dow on several advisory boards including those at the University of Connecticut Institute for Materials Science and at Michigan Tech. He currently serves on the advisory board for the Global Social Venturing Competition at the Haas School of Business at UC-Berkeley and the Innovation Grant Committee at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

From 2014 Induction to the College of Sciences and Arts Academy




Chemistry in Michigan Tech News

Galectin-3 Proteins in Biochemistry Earns National Coverage
August 15, 2016
Sticking It To Rogue DNA
August 11, 2016
Tech Student Wins Goldwater Scholarship
April 8, 2016
A Noble Calling: Ruthenium Nanoframes Open the Doors to Better Catalysts
March 31, 2016
The Case of the Sticky Protein: Interdisciplinary Team Puts Together Clues To Better Sense Surface Hydrophobicity
December 18, 2015
Thyroid Cancer Biomarker Assays May Show Inaccurate Readings
November 12, 2015
Lynn Mazzoleni Leads a Team to Bring a New High-Resolution Spectrometer to Campus
October 23, 2015
Detecting lysosomal pH with fluorescent probes
April 8, 2015
Chemistry Professor Gives Women in STEM a Step Up
January 14, 2015
Michigan Tech Deploys Under-ice Research Instruments in Frozen Portage Waterway
January 12, 2015
Carnegie Museum: Lake Superior Discussion
November 13, 2014
Breakthrough Understanding of Biomolecules Could Lead to New and Better Drugs
August 22, 2014
Fang, Pokharel Receive Rath Award for Breakthrough Method of Purifying Biomolecules
April 28, 2014
Reaching for the Future at Society of Women Engineers Conference
February 25, 2014

Bio-Oligomer Purification, Electrophilic Oligo Synthesis, and Progress to a Genome Sequencer


Michigan Technological University

Friday, December 12, 2014

3:00 pm Chemical Sciences Building Room 101

Dr. Shiyue Fang

Associate Professor, Chemistry Department


Bio-Oligomer Purification, Electrophilic Oligo Synthesis, and Progress to a Genome Sequencer

The progress on three projects, which are bio-oligomer purification, electrophilic oligosynthesis, and developing a new genome sequencer, will be presented. For bio-oligomer purification, we have developed two methods for oligodeoxynucleotide and one method for peptide purification. They are catching failure sequences by polymerization and catching full-length sequences by polymerization. Both methods do not require any type of chromatography,and purification is achieved through simple manipulations such as shaking and filtration. As aresult, they are suitable for large scale purification of drugs based on oligonucleotides and peptides. They are also ideal for small scale purification and high throughput purification. Currently, there are three oligonucleotide drugs and over 60 peptide drugs on the market, and many more are in various stages of clinical trials. Because known bio-oligomer purification methods such as HPLC have drawbacks such as high capital cost for instrument, labor-intensiveness and requirement of large volumes of harmful solvents, the new methods are expected to be preferred by pharmaceutical companies for drug purification, and by academic labs and biotech companies for small scale and high throughput purification. For electrophilic oligo synthesis, we have made progress on developing a new method that features using protecting groups and linkers cleavable under nearly neutral conditions. Under these conditions, electrophilic groups such as ester, thioester, alpha-halo carbonyl, epoxide and aziridine are stable. As a result, the new method is useful for the synthesis of oligonucleotide analogs that contain such  sensitive functionalities. Using known oligo synthesis methods, such analogs cannot be synthesized. The new oligo synthesis method is expected to open doors to many research projects that require  sensitive oligo analogs. For developing a new genome sequencer, we are using AFM to monitor the  conformational fluctuations of a DNA polymerase during DNA synthesis. Because different  nucleotides are expected to give different conformational fluctuations, DNA sequences can be read  out in real-time. We have made progress on mutating a polymerase and solving several potential  problems for assembling the sequencer.


Durga Pokharel

Advisor: Dr. Shiyue Fang

Doctoral candidate, Department of Chemistry

PhD Defense

Friday December 12, 2014   9:30am     Fisher 130





Synthetic oligonucleotides and peptides have found wide applications in industry and academic research labs. There are ~60 peptide drugs on the market and over 500 under development. The global annual sale of peptide drugs in 2010 was estimated to be $13 billion. There are three oligonucleotide-based drugs on market; among them, the FDA newly approved Kynamro was predicted to have a $100 million annual sale. The annual sale of oligonucleotides to academic labs was estimated to be $700 million. Both bio-oligomers are mostly synthesized on automated synthesizers using solid phase synthesis technology, in which nucleoside or amino acid monomers are added sequentially until the desired full-length sequence is reached. The additions cannot be complete, which generates truncated undesired failure sequences. For almost all applications, these impurities must be removed. The most widely used method is HPLC. However, the method is slow, expensive, labor-intensive, not amendable for automation, difficult to scale up, and unsuitable for high throughput purification. It needs large capital investment, and consumes large volumes of harmful solvents. The purification costs are estimated to be more than 50% of total production costs. Other methods for bio-oligomer purification also have drawbacks, and are less favored than HPLC for most applications.

To overcome the problems of known biopolymer purification technologies, we have developed two non-chromatographic purification methods. They are (1) catching failure sequences by polymerization, and (2) catching full-length sequences by polymerization. In the first method, a polymerizable group is attached to the failure sequences of the bio-oligomers during automated synthesis; purification is achieved by simply polymerizing the failure sequences into an insoluble gel and extracting full-length sequences. In the second method, a polymerizable group is attached to the full-length sequences, which are then incorporated into a polymer; impurities are removed by washing, and pure product is cleaved from polymer. These methods do not need chromatography, and all drawbacks of HPLC no longer exist. Using them, purification is achieved by simple manipulations such as shaking and extraction. Therefore, they are suitable for large scale purification of oligonucleotide and peptide drugs, and also ideal for high throughput purification, which currently has a high demand for research projects involving total gene synthesis. The savings with the new techniques compared with HPLC are estimated to be 70% to 90% depending on purification scale and throughput. We expect these new oligonucleotide and peptide purification technologies to be widely used in academic research labs, biotechnology companies, and pharmaceutical companies in the near future.