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Prof. Jackie Roberts Receives Cottrell College Science Award

June 28, 2006

Jackie Roberts HS.jpgJune 28, 2006, Greencastle, Ind. - Jackie Roberts, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at DePauw University, has been awarded a Cottrell College Science Award from the Research Corporation, America's first foundation for the advancement of science. The award, in the amount of $39,682, will support a project entitled "Determination of important metal binding residues in an archaeal SmtB/ArsR transcription factor."

Dr. Roberts' research project has already yielded several manuscripts with collaborators and students, one of which was recently accepted for publication in the journal Archaea.

"Our objectives for this project are to better understand transcriptional regulation in Archaea utilizing structural bioinformatics and biochemical analyses," Roberts says. "Archaea has widespread distribution in a variety of ecosystems from bubbling sulfur springs to highJackie Roberts Research.jpgtemperature thermal vents. The information collected in our studies will help us gain a better insight into how we produce RNA from DNA (transcription), which is important if we ever want to fully understand genetic disorders."

The professor's work has been assisted from the beginning by her undergraduate students at DePauw, who have expressed and purified various forms of these transcription factors, grown protein crystals, and have helped to solve the structure of one transcription factor. Currently, students are determiningJackie Roberts.jpg the role of metal binding on the control mechanism of these transcription factors and eventually hope to build a structure of the protein with bound metal. The skills the students will obtain from this project will greatly enhance their undergraduate experiences and impact their preparation for graduate, dental, and medical schools.

The Cottrell College Science Awards program presents grants to faculty at primarily undergraduate institutions in order to challenge them to explore new areas of science, to make new discoveries that contribute to their discipline and to initiate new research programs that can be sustained by other extramural funding sources, as well as with institutional support. A key element in these research programs is that they involve undergraduate students in meaningful ways. It is also expected that these endeavors will spill over into teaching, thereby raising the quality of undergraduate education.

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