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Student Research

Student research is an integral part of the Biochemistry Major at Bowdoin. Students work with faculty members on cutting-edge research projects using state-of-the-art equipment, and they are often able to publish completed projects. Biochemistry majors may work with Biology and Chemistry Department faculty who are not members of the Biochemistry Program.

Bowdoin Students Attend ASBMB Conference in New OrleansMatt Shew Danielle Dube and Maria Koenigs

A group of ten Bowdoin Biochemistry senior honors students traveled with two members of the Biochemistry faculty to New Orelands in April 2009.  There they participated in the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, at which they presented their honors research, learned about the forefront of biochemistry research by attending seminars, and competed in an undertraduate student research poster competition.  Our students were highly competitive in the poster competition, where Matthew Shew '09 won first place and Maria Koenigs '09 received an honorable mention in the Systems Biology category of the competition (both pictured to the right with Professor Danielle Dube).  The conference was a stunning success, and the Biochemistry Program hopes to continue sending students to conferences in the future.

2012-2013 Biochemistry Honors Projects

David Bean ’13 
Improving the selectivity of a Cobalt α-Olefin Dimerization Catalyst: Studies on the Synthesis of a Phosphabenzene Derivative Ligand
Zara Bowden '13
Investigation of n → Π* interactions in peptoids and thiopeptoids

Daniel Dickstein ’13 
Quantitative Evaluation of Nonlinear Sorption of Cationic Amines to Soils and Soil Minerals
Andrea Koenigsberg ’13 
Monitoring Glycoprotein Dynamics in Helicobacter pylori
Margaret Lammert ’13 
Preparation and Coordination Studies of Isocyanides as Potential Ligands for a Cobalt-Based Linear α-Olefin Dimerization Catalyst

Matthew Spring ’13 
Development of a Peptoid Catalyst for the Enantioselective Trifluoromethylation of Aldehydes
Matthew Spring ’13 The trifluoromethyl moiety (-CF3) is a useful functional group in pharmaceuticals because it increases drug stability and bioavailability. This group is often found at chiral centers in drugs, and the enantiopurity of these drugs can be crucial for their proper function. Therefore, an enantioselective catalyst that produces an excess of one enantiomer over the other is desirable. In addition to high enantioselectivity, an optimal catalyst should catalyze trifluoromethylation in high yield and with broad substrate scope. However, the primary catalyst for enantioselective trifluoromethylation of carbonyls, a cinchona alkaloid derivative, is quite limited in substrate scope and difficult to modify. Asymmetric peptide catalysts consisting of an achiral catalytic group attached to a chiral peptide scaffold have been shown to enantioselectively catalyze various transformations, but they are unsuitable for the trifluoromethylation conditions. Peptoids, a type of peptidomimetic that can fold into discrete 3-D structures and that are stable under many reaction conditions, could function as novel catalysts for enantioselective transformations. In fact, it was recently demonstrated that a peptoid catalyst was able to enantioselectively catalyze the transformation of an alcohol to a ketone. In this project, by attaching a catalytic amine N-oxide group, which activates –CF3 in the trifluoromethylation reaction, to a chiral peptoid scaffold, novel peptoid catalysts were generated for enantioselective trifluoromethylation.

Van Tra ’13  
Synthesis of phosphine-PpIX-FLAG photosensitizer to target Helicobacter pylori by photodynamic therapy

Amanda Blick
Jacob Blum
Patrick Larivirere
Tippapha Pisithkul