Professor JiJi receives an NSF Career Award

NSF Abstract of award--This CAREER award by the NSF Chemical Measurement and Imaging (CMI) program supports work by Professor Renee Jiji at the University of Missouri-Columbia to create an innovative research program focused on enhancing structural analysis of transmembrane (TM) proteins using deep-ultraviolet resonance Raman (UVRR) spectroscopy. This research will establish the unique UVRR spectral features of TM proteins and the degree to which solvent exclusion and vibrational coupling over the membrane embedded structural elements play a role in unique resonance enhancement found in the UVRR spectrum of TM proteins. The methods in this proposal will lay the foundation for future structure and functional studies of TM proteins and make the interpretation of the their UVRR spectra more facile. In sum, this research will enable simultaneous resolution of spectral contributions from both solvent accessible and inaccessible regions of TM proteins and the quantification TM protein content, which currently is untenable by a single technique.

The broader impacts of this research include outreach programs to provide high school students with the hands-on experience integral to their becoming adept at using scientific instrumentation, and to generate greater interest in chemistry and chemical analysis at the high school level. An initial needs assessment will give an understanding of high school teachers' perceived current needs and iteratively inform the development of hands-on activities. A spectroscopy mini-unit will be designed and implemented to address the assessed needs. Single-day teacher development workshops featuring spectroscopy will increase the teachers' comfort level with scientific and spectroscopic instrumentation while multi-workshops will expand high school students exposures to research instrumentation, highlight applied areas of chemistry, and provide students with stimulating and in depth activities, thereby fostering a greater understanding and interest in chemistry and its professional applications.