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04-Aug-2015

The Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows program:

The Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows Award program is intended to support postdoctoral scholars who are judged to have the highest potential for success in an independent academic career in chemistry and the life sciences, and who will become the next generation of leaders and innovators in science, engineering, and technology.

Congratulations to the 2015 Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows


Matt Akamatsu, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Actin-generated forces during mammalian clathrin-mediated endocytosis

Marco A. Allodi, Ph.D.
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Beau Alward, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Identifying molecular mechanisms that regulate social status

Kumar Ashtekar, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Development of novel platforms towards expanding the druggable kinome

Anthony Barley, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Assessing Model Plausibility and Reliability of Inference in the Quantification of Biodiversity

Stephanie Barros, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Covalent Targeting of Protein-Protein Interactions

Liela Bayeh, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Development of a Catalytic Asymmetric Formal Hydration of Olefins to Access Enantioenriched Aliphatic Alcohols

Beatriz Bernabe, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Dynamic Evolution of the Human Microbiome in Perinatal Depressed Mothers

Neville Bethel, PhD
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Research Title: Understanding the mechanical properties of protein filaments using de novo protein design

Protein fibers like silk are stronger than steel and more flexible than nylon. Traditional biological approaches have yielded little understanding to why they have these remarkable properties. One issue is that protein fibers found in nature tend to be complex and have features not directly responsible for their mechanical properties. My project aims to design simplified protein fibers from scratch, and I will rigorously test series of these proteins to tease out the microscopic interactions responsible for their macroscopic properties.

James Bour, PhD
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Research Title: Redox Catalysis at the Nodes of Metal Organic Frameworks

The synthesis of complex molecules , such as those found in pharmaceuticals often requires the use of a catalyst to form parts of the desired molecule. The development of catalysts is an important area of research as it allows chemists to synthesize better drugs, polymers, and devices that people encounter in every day life . The proposed research describes a new class of catalysts to that are expected to enable the synthesis of important complex chemicals.

Lukasz Bugaj, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Interrogating How Oncogenic Ras/Erk Mutations Alter Cell Sensitivity to Dynamic Stimulation Using Optogenetic Profiling

Quinn Burlingame, PhD
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Research Title: Reliable and Efficient of UV-absorbing Hexabenzocoronene Derivative Organic Solar Cells

Organic photovoltaic cells are an emerging solar cell technology with the potential to be inexpensive, thin, and flexible. Their unique properties are particularly appealing for integration into windows, since certain devices can be made to selectively absorb ultraviolet or infrared illumination while remaining transparent to visible light. One of the biggest remaining challenges for organic photovoltaics is their operational stability under solar illumination, as lifetimes of more than 15 years are required for most practical applications. We propose to study the reliability of a recently developed class of ultraviolet-absorbing organic solar cells based on hexabenzocoronene derivatives to determine the most active photochemical and morphological degradation modes. Based on these results, we will then develop chemically modified materials and novel device architectures which stabilize device performance while maintaining high efficiency and visible transparency.

Alice Chang, PhD
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Research Title: Tough, Sustainable Plastics via Graft Block Polymer Design

Plastics affect and improve many aspects of modern life. However, they also create enormous challenges for science and society: most commodity plastics are produced from petroleum and persist in the environment for hundreds of years. If current production and waste management trends continue, by 2050 the plastics industry will account for 20% of all oil consumed; in the same year, the total mass of plastics in the ocean will equal the mass of fish. In the proposed research, we aim to develop high-performance plastics that can be sourced from renewable feedstocks and rapidly degrade. By bridging polymer chemistry and polymer physics, we will introduce new opportunities to design sustainable materials.

Huanhuan Chen, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Identify Synthetic Lethality Targeting APC - or KRAS - Mutations in Organotypic Human Colorectal Cancer Models

Kangway Chuang, PhD
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Research Title: Learning Chemical Reaction Space: A Machine Learning Approach to Reaction Development and Discovery

The discovery and study of chemical reactivity continues to play an integral role in the treatment of disease, the study of fundamental biological processes, and the design of new materials for renewable energy. Despite decades of innovation, fundamentally new chemical reactions are increasingly challenging to discover and develop. Modern machine learning has resulted in powerful pattern recognition tools to uncover complex relationships directly from data. This proposal merges the fields of organic reaction discovery with machine learning: we will develop a new machine learning approach tailored toward understanding the reactivity of transition metal catalysts, and apply these methods to address challenges in modern organic synthesis and chemical reaction discovery. We anticipate that these studies will open up new avenues in chemical research and innovation.

Jackson Cone, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Probing Perceptual Decoding With Targeted Two-Photon Stimulation

Katherine Davis, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Directing Metalloenzyme Movies

Alexandra Dickinson, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Characterizing gene regulatory network dynamics controlling asymmetric cell division

Furqan Fazal, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Landscape of RNA structure in mammalian cells

Julie Fenton, PhD
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Research Title: Macrocyclic Nanotubes as a Platform for Functional Membranes and Materials Discovery

The objective of this proposal is to explore the dynamics of designed macrocycles that are the first to reversibly assemble into high-aspect-ratio nanotubes. The nanotubes described here exhibit the highest aspect ratios ever reported in a self-assembled system, and their modular construction offers a unique platform for tunable functionality. Proposed work will seek to expand the scope of available macrocyclic building units and to better understand the principles guiding tube formation, elongation, and multi-tube hierarchical assembly, in order to realize application as a new class of precisely tailored functional membranes and as a platform for accessing layered, 2D polymers.

Sheri Floge, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Quantifying the marine viral shunt: carbon flow across trophic levels

Joseph Fournier, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Building a Molecular Description of Water Solubility of Environmentally Important Molecular Ions

Ariel Furst, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Multipurpose disposable sensor for the electrochemical detection of small molecule toxins

Brian Gold, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Design and Synthesis of Small Molecules for Mechanism-Based Inactivation of Ribonuclease

Miguel Gonzalez, PhD
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Research Title: Taming the Halogen Radical: Controlling the Reactivity of Photogenerated Halogen-Atom Complexes for Selective C–H Activation

Chlorine atoms can accomplish very challenging and important chemical transformations, but their use has been limited significantly by their uncontrolled and nonselective reactivity. I want to design molecules that can not only generate chlorine atoms on demand with light, but also catch the atoms and steer them toward useful reactions. In addition, I hope to take molecular snapshots of these chlorine atoms and track how fast they react with other molecules to better understand their reactivity.

Kelley Healey, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Elucidating multi-drug resistance in fungal pathogens

Jesse Isaacman-Beck, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Molecular mechanisms that govern neural circuit stability

Matthew Jones, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Dynamic Materials Synthesis through Optically-Driven Nanoparticle Assembly

Abigail Knight, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Developing Biomimetic Antibiotics via Siderophore Inspired Self-Assembling Polymers (SInAPs)

Cory Knoot, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Blue-green engineering: a sustainable biosynthetic production system for cyanobacterial natural products

Michael Lambrecht, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Preclinical Development of a Small-Molecule for Resistant Multiple Myeloma

Nina Lany, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Improving Predictions of Climate Change Effects on Ecological Communities with Ecological Complexity

Vivian Lee, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Glioblastoma-endothelial interaction in 3D bio-printed tumor vasculature tissue

Nathan Lord, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Mechanisms of Morphogen Gradient Interpretation

Francisco Luongo, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Dissecting the neural circuit mechanisms underlying object segmentation

Danielle Mai, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Nucleoporin-based materials for rapid and selective removal of biological toxins

Stewart Mallory, PhD
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Research Title: A vertical approach to colloidal active matter

The primary focus of this proposal is to use state of the art computer simulations to accurately model the behavior of active colloids, which can be thought of as synthetic swimming bacteria. An active colloid can autonomously navigate complex microscopic environments conjuring up a host of appealing applications, which include targeted drug delivery, the repair of cellular tissues within the body, the clean-up and neutralization of environmental pollutants, and the massive parallel assembly of microscopic machines. There is a high level of optimism that all these applications and many more will be realized in the near future, but first, we must understand the true individual and collective dynamics in these complex microscopic environments. Computer simulations allow us to systematically characterize the various forces (hydrodynamic, electrostatic, lubrication, etc.) in these microscopic systems, and provide deep insights into how they can be exploited to manipulate matter at the microscale.

Devin Matthews, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Efficient Implementations and Interfaces for Tensor Operations in Quantum Chemistry

Luis Mejia, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Striatum-projecting orbitofrontal neuron subpopulations in the expression of repetitive compulsive behaviors in mice

Aaron Mertz, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Genetic and Mechanical Crosstalk in Skin Barrier Formation

Timothy Montgomery, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Development and Application of Kinetically E-Selective Olefin Metathesis Catalysts

Emma Morrison, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Multivalent readout of histone PTMs in chromatin regulation by BPTF: a structural and dynamic perspective

Kira Mosher, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Dissecting cell signaling networks that regulate adult neural stem cell functions

Anthony Mustoe, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Genome-scale analysis of RNA structural dynamics

Freddy Nguyen, MD., Ph.D.
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Research Title: Development of nanosensors for in-vivo monitoring of cancer therapeutics

Mathew O'Reilly, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Development of Chemical Tools for the Modulation of Quorum Sensing in Gram-Negative Bacteria

Allie Obermeyer, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Engineering Protein Coacervates for Drug Delivery

Andrew Olive, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Dissecting the Mechanisms of Host Resistance and Tolerance during Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection

Shane Parker, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Quantum chemistry tools for photocatalyst design

Michael Priest, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Chemogenetic voltage-sensitive imaging

Hossein Robatjazi, PhD
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Research Title: Atomistic Insights into Surface Phenomena in Heterogeneous Catalysis

Catalysis is a crucial component of the range of technologies, from gasoline production to plastics and polymers, cosmetics and even food industries. Developing fundamental insights into how catalytic transformations proceed on the catalyst surface enables precise design of new and improved catalysts that can directly impact our daily lives. Despite considerable scientific contributions over many years, our knowledge of molecular-scale phenomena on catalyst surface is in many cases very primitive. Here, we propose a highly promising solution to this challenges by developing a strategy based on atomic-scale characterization technique that enables extracting structural and electronic information of the surface simultaneously during catalytic operating condition.

Jeffrey Rudolf, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Engineering Structural Diversity into the Platensimycin and Platencin Natural Products

Samuel Sanders, PhD
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Research Title: A Robust, Universal Platform for High Efficiency Photon Upconversion

The ability to convert low energy light into high energy light has significant technological potential for fields as diverse as 3D printing, photoredox chemistry and solar energy. However, the need for high concentrations of dye molecules and the sensitivity to moisture and oxygen limits applications. We propose a universal platform for performing this process under diverse sets of conditions based on encapsulation within robust, shelled micelles. We will optimize the micelle nanocarrier as well as the components of the most technologically relevant near infrared photon upconversion process to yield a system with significant stability and applicability.

Eve Schneider, Ph.D.
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Research Title: The Molecular Basis of Mechanotransduction in Vertebrate Glabrous Skin

Elena Schroeter, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Flesh from stone: Characterizing bone proteins preserved in the fossils of Tyrannosaurus rex

Alexander Schuppe, PhD
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Research Title: Enantioselective Hydrocyanation of Alkenes using Dual Metal Catalysis

Chiral nitriles are a ubiquitous and versatile functional group found in numerous pharamaceuticals, materials, and natural products. Although alkene hydrocyanation is conducted on million-ton scale annually to produce polymers, these processes require highly toxic hydrogen cyanide and form exclusively racemic products. This proposal aims to employ a novel approach convert unactivated or minimally activated olefin feedstocks to chiral nitriles by utilizing dual palladium and copper-hydride catalysis with a non-toxic source of cyanide.

Tal Sharf, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Lab-on-a-chip platform to measure and probe constrained neural networks at the mesoscale

Massa Shoura, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Circul-omics: Unbiased Characterization of Endogenous Circular DNA Repertoire, Function, and Clinical Applications

Anna Simon, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Retroelement-based continuous evolution of peptide antibiotics

Adam Slavney, PhD
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Research Title: Modular Nanocluster-Based Porous Frameworks through Large Footprint Area Ligands

Nanoclusters are very small (1 - 100 nanometers in size) particles of metals with hundreds of small organic molecules attached to their surfaces in a dense spherical shell, which keeps the nanoclusters separated from each other. Combining different types of nanoclusters can make a new kind of solid called a superlattice, in which many different metal particles can be swapped in and out and the distances between them carefully controlled, creating unusual new magnetic and optical properties. However, these superlattices are always nonporous because the large number of organic molecules on the cluster surfaces completely fills the spaces between clusters, which can limit their usefulness. My proposal is to replace the many small organic molecules on the nanocluster surface with a few very large ones, opening up gaps between nanoclusters and making the superlattice permanently porous. This porosity allows gases and small molecules to enter the superlattice and interact strongly with the nanoclusters, enabling new applications for superlattices in chemical sensing, gas separation and purification, and catalysis.

Joel Smith, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Electrochemical Polyene Cyclization Through Anodic Oxidation

Patrick Smith, PhD
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Research Title: Electric Field--Controlled Nonfaradaic Reactivity in Graphite Conjugated Catalysts

Nature exploits oriented electric field with precision to direct reactions. This work will exploit this phenomenon in artificial systems by developing an understanding of the effect of electric potentials on the thermal reactivity of surface-bound species. Using eletric fields to control reactions will enable precise tuning of catalyst electronic structure without the need for extensive synthetic efforts which typify traditional catalyst development studies. This will allow for more rapid reaction discovery, precise control of reaction rates, and lower environmental impact for chemical transformations.

Benjamin Snyder, PhD
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Research Title: A Biomimetic Approach to Methane Oxidation in Metal-Organic Frameworks

Our ability to harness our vast reserves of methane is limited by the high costs and dangers associated with transporting liquefied natural gas. These issues could be resolved by converting the methane into liquid methanol - a valuable fuel and chemical precursor. This proposal develops new catalysts for the methane-to-methanol conversion based on metal-organic frameworks - materials that can be rationally modified to incorporate powerful reactivity strategies from enzyme catalysis. This will address the significant practical limitations of current catalyst systems, bringing us closer to inexpensive methanol fuels derived from natural gas.

Noelle Stiles, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Retinal Prosthesis Neural Imaging: Understanding the Impact of Vision Restoration on the Blind Brain

Eric Strobel, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Molecular decisions on the move: Making movies of RNA switches using big data

Dayne F Swearer, PhD
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Research Title: Five-Dimensional Nanoscale Imaging of Chemical Reactions

This research proposal seeks to investigate how nanomaterials, small pieces of metal about 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, behave when you shine light onto them. This is important because research has shown certain types of nanomaterials can be excellent catalysts for chemical reactions when illuminated with light. However, we still do not know how exactly how this works. In this proposal, we will use simultaneous optical and electron microscopy to image individual nanoparticles and characterize how molecules reaction on their surface which will be able to teach us about how they can be optimized for chemical reactions of industrial and societal importance. The techniques developed in this proposal will allow us to visualize how chemical reactions proceed on nanoparticles and directly correlate chemical reactivity to spatial selectivity on the nanoscale for the first time.

Benjamin Toscano, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Forecasting Regime Shifts in Ecological Communities: Experimental Evaluation of Early Warning Signals

Julianne Troiano, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Structural Dynamics of Microbial Recognition by Toll-like Receptors

Andrew Varble, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Identification of CRISPR-Cas9 inhibitors from metagenomic libraries

Qingqing Wang, Ph.D.
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Research Title: the role of U1 snRVP in regulating cancer-specific global pre-mRNA splicing and polyadenylation

Corey Westfall, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Living Large: Connecting Nutrients, Metabolism, and Cell Size

William Wolf, Ph.D.
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Andrew Woodham, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Novel Immunotherapies in Pancreatic Cancer

Brady Worrell, Ph.D.
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Research Title: The Sequence Controlled Polymerization of Nucleic Acids

Dianne Xiao, Ph.D.
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Research Title: Elucidating Structure-Activity Relationships in Defect-Rich Cu Electrocatalysts for Renewable Fuel Production