We extend a warm welcome to Laurie Littlepage, the newest member of our faculty who joined us this summer.  As an assistant professor, Laurie will be directing research in the Mike and Josie Harper Cancer Research Institute. Prior to joining us, Laurie was a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF. She obtained her doctorate in Cell & Developmental Biology from Harvard and holds a bachelor of science degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from the University of Texas.

            On the other side of the coin, in November of last year the department hosted a mini-symposium to celebrate the professional career of Tom Nowak, who has entered into the distinguished ranks of our emeriti. Among the speakers were Tom’s former graduate students Todd Holyoak of the University of Waterloo, Andy Mesecar of Purdue University, and Pat Loria of Yale University.  It was a wonderful event and a fitting tribute to Tom’s great scholarship and service.       

            We were greatly saddened when Rev. Joseph Walter, C.S.C. and Professor Emeritus of Chemistry passed away on April 18 at the age of 82.  Fr. Walter had a long and distinguished career at Notre Dame characterized by a vigorous research program in inorganic coordination chemistry and superb teaching.  In 1971, Fr. Walter was appointed Chair of the Department of Preprofessional Studies, and in his long tenure at its helm, advised upwards of 5,000 preprofessional students.  He will be greatly missed

Virginia Tech researchers explain the Flint water crisis

Author: Grant Johnson

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The Flint, Mich., water crisis made headlines across the country last year. Social media campaigns and crowdfunding sites urging people to donate towards relief efforts to help get clean water for the citizens, while definitely useful in illustrating the severity of the problem, do not tell the whole story. Kelsey Pieper and Siddhartha Roy, two of the 30 members of the research team that helped uncover the catastrophe that is the Flint water crisis, gave a presentation telling the complete story of the crisis.

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Lincoln named Fellow of the AAAS

Author: Shelly Goethals

Don Lincoln at CERN. Photo courtesy of

Dr. Donald Lincoln has been named a 2016 Fellow of the AAAS. Election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers. Fellows are recognized for meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications. The AAAS Council elected 391 members as Fellows in 2016. His citation reads, “For distinguished contributions to the field of experimental high energy physics, especially to the study of quantum chromodynamics, and to particle physics outreach.”

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Study shows RNA protects nucleoprotein complex against radiation damage

Author: Gene Stowe

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Researchers including Ian Carmichael, director of the Radiation Laboratory and professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Notre Dame, have devised a method for gauging radiation damage in macromolecules and have applied it to nucleoprotein complexes. Such damage, which occurs during X-ray crystallographic data collection, is a major hindrance to determining reliable macromolecular structures. A report on the discovery, “RNA protects a nucleoprotein complex against radiation damage”, was published in the International Union of Crystallography’s Acta Crystallographica Section D: Structural Biology.

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Studying evolution in the place that inspired the theory: The Galapagos Islands

Author: Anna Chang

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Before arriving to the islands, each student developed a research proposals and collected as much preliminary data as possible. Our research ranged among many varieties of flora and fauna, often either comparing organisms or studying species living in a certain ecosystem. The projects encouraged us to develop our scientific thinking and understand connections between an organism and its environment more deeply. Below are a few examples of research projects and findings from the trip:

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Bethlehem Star may not be a star after all

Author: Jessica Sieff

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Studying historical, astronomical and biblical records, Grant Mathews believes the event that led the Magi was an extremely rare planetary alignment occurring in 6 B.C., and the likes of which may never be seen again.

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