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Lorena Anderson

Researchers Seek to Understand Messy Proteins that are Critical to Cellular Function

Biophysical chemistry Professor Shahar Sukenik and the graduate students in his lab are trying to make sense out of what might seem to some to be chaos. They aim to better understand how a series of floppy, malleable proteins function — or malfunction — inside cells.

The work has earned Sukenik a $1.86 million, five-year Outstanding Investigator award from the National Institutes for Health (NIH).

New NSF Center Intersects Chemistry and Mechanics

Scientists know the whats and whys of using light, heat and electricity to direct chemical reactions toward an end goal. What’s less well understood are the effects mechanical force can have on chemistry.

Thanks to a three-year, $1.8 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, a team of researchers — including mechanical engineering Professor Ashlie Martini — are forming a new center for this emerging area of study.

Professor Explores Green Lubricants for Mechanical Systems with NSF Grant

Mechanical systems, such as car engines and manufacturing equipment, use petroleum-based lubricants and solvents that are considered hazardous. After use, those compounds mostly end up in the earth.

Environmentally friendly alternatives — room-temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) — that don’t need solvents and can perform better haven’t been widely used because of a lack of basic understanding about how they work.

Berhe Named to Endowed Chair in Recognition of Her Work in Soil Sciences

Soil biogeochemistry Professor Asmeret Asefaw Berhe has been named the Ted and Jan Falasco Chair in Earth Sciences and Geology.

“The Falasco family is engaged in construction and development, so they have an intimate connection with and an understanding of the earth beneath our feet,” Berhe said. “Not only are they generous with their hard-earned resources, they are investing in a worthy cause for the Valley. They appreciate how invested we all should be in the land and the Earth.”

New Consortium Seeks to Expose Students to a Galaxy of Opportunities

Imagine exploring the cores of stars to understand — and ultimately control — the type of fusion that’s taking place.

High-energy density (HED) science is the study of properties and behavior of matter and radiation in extreme temperatures and pressures common to the deep interiors of the largest planets. It’s also the foundation of understanding fusion energy and high-energy astrophysical phenomena, and it’s happening at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, just 75 miles from UC Merced.

CAREER Award Will Help Professor Advance Organic Chemistry Education

Chemistry and chemical biology Professor Ryan Baxter recently became the campus’s 22nd recipient of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) prestigious early CAREER awards for untenured faculty.

The $647,000 he received from NSF will mostly go toward paying student research assistants and purchasing supplies to help advance his lab’s work developing new strategies for initiating radical chemical reactions to engineer mild experimental protocols.

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