Tag Archives: biochemistry

UCLA chemistry graduate student ready for her Nobel journey

Crystal Valdez selected to meet with 34 laureates at international conference

From the time she was a young girl, Crystal Valdez was fascinated by science. “When I first learned we are composed of cells and that cells are composed of molecules and atoms, I was amazed and wanted to understand how it all works,” the chemistry graduate student recalled.

That curiosity ultimately led her to the laboratory of Anastassia Alexandrova at UCLA, where Valdez has earned a reputation for her research on the design and function of enzymes. (more…)

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Synchrotron Infrared Unveils a Mysterious Microbial Community

Berkeley Lab scientists join an international collaboration to understand how archaea and bacteria work together deep in a cold sulfur spring

In the fall of 2010, Hoi-Ying Holman of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) was approached by an international team researching a mysterious microbial community discovered deep in cold sulfur springs in southern Germany.

“They told me what they were doing and said, ‘We know what you contributed to the oil-spill research,’” recalls Holman, who heads the Chemical Ecology group in Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division. “They wondered if I could help them determine the biochemistry of their microbe samples.” (more…)

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The Best of Both Catalytic Worlds

Berkeley Lab Researchers Develop New Technique for Heterogenizing Homogenous Nano Catalysts

Catalysts are substances that speed up the rates of chemical reactions without themselves being chemically changed. Industrial catalysts come in two main types – heterogeneous, in which the catalyst is in a different phase from the reactants; and homogeneous, in which catalyst and the reactants are in the same phase. Heterogeneous catalysts are valued for their sustainability because they can be recycled. Homogeneous catalysts are valued for their product selectivity as their properties can be easily tuned through relatively simple chemistry.

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have combined the best properties of both types of industrial catalysts by encapsulating nanoclusters of a metallic heterogeneous catalyst within the branched arms of the molecules known as dendrimers. (more…)

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Sea Floor Samples Help Explain Arid Southwest

Surface-dwelling algae adjust their biochemistry to surface temperatures. As they die and sink to the bottom, they build a sedimentary record of sea-surface temperature across millennia. Brown’s work on surface temperatures, coupled with work from Texas A&M on rainfall and weather patterns, has helped chart the wetter, lake-filled geological history of the currently arid American West.

During the last ice age, the landscape of the American West was very different. Where now there are deserts and salt flats in the Southwest and Great Basin regions, there once were giant lakes and wetlands. The Great Salt Lake, for example, is a tiny remnant of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville, which at one time covered almost 20,000 square miles. (more…)

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Isoprene Research Could Lead to Eco-Friendly Car Tires

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The world’s rubber supplies are in peril, and automobile tire producers are scrambling to seek alternative solutions.

Tom Sharkey, chairperson of the Michigan State University biochemistry and molecular biology department, believes isoprene, a gas given off by many trees, ferns and mosses, could be a viable option. Some plants use it as a mechanism to tolerate heat stress as opposed to most crops, which stay cool through evaporation. (more…)

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You Are What Your Father Ate, New Study Says

We are what our father ate before we were born! An international team of researchers has found that a father’s diet while growing up can affect his offspring’s future health.

Researchers, who specifically looked at the effects of paternal diet in their study, have discovered that a father’s lifestyle can be passed down to next generation because it “reprogrammes” his genes. (more…)

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