Link: University of Iowa

Archive for August, 2010

Susan O’Donnell wins the Clarence Berg Award

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Susan O’Donnell, who recently completed her PhD with Madeline Shea, has been named the winner of the 2010 Clarence Berg Award. This prize is given every other year to a student who demonstrates “scholarship, integrity, cooperativeness, consideration and a willingness to help others.” Dr. O’Donnell was an American Heart Association-funded graduate student who focused on the structural and thermodynamic bases for recognition of calcineurin by calmodulin domains. Previously, Susan was the winner of the 2006 Usha Balakrishnan Award for best poster presented at the annual meeting of the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing. She also presented her work in a plenary session of the 2007 Gibbs Conference on Biothermodynamics and received a 2008 Biophysical Society Student Research Achievement Award as well as an inaugural Gehring Award last fall.

Dr. O’Donnell is currently a post-doctoral fellow with Robert Deschenes at University of South Florida.

Susan is the 21st winner of the Berg Award, which was established by former students of Professor Berg, an internationally known amino acid biochemist who was a member of the department for 39 years. Dr. Berg is well known as the author of the 1980 book, The University of Iowa and Biochemistry from their Beginnings.

Prior winners of the Berg Award are:

Bret Freudenthal wins the Subramanian Thesis Award

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Bret Freudenthal, who recently completed his PhD with Todd Washington, has been named the winner of the 2010 Subramanian Award for best PhD thesis in the Department of Biochemistry. Dr. Freudenthal was an American Heart Association-funded graduate student who focused on the structural biology and enzymology of wild-type and mutant proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) in promoting translesion DNA synthesis. His first author publications include a Biochemistry report, an Acta Cryst D contribution, and a Nature Struct Mol Biol paper, which was highlighted in Nature Chem Biol.

Bret is no stranger to Biochemistry awards, having been given an inaugural Gehring Award last fall. He is bound for the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences to work with Dr. Samuel Wilson.

Bret is the 17th winner of the Subramanian Award, which is made possible by a gift from Dr. Alap Subramanian, a 1964 PhD from the department, who parlayed his training with the late George Kalnitzky into a highly successful career at the Max-Planck-Institut. Our deepest thanks to Dr. Subramanian and our heartiest congratulations to Dr. Freudenthal.

Highlights of the Annual Retreat

Monday, August 30th, 2010

The Brechler Press Box of Kinnick Stadium was abuzz with Biochemists on saturday for an all-department retreat. As Hawkeye football players ran drills on the field, retreat organizer David Price asked the ~100 attendees to take seats facing the field for a special announcement. Eyes turned toward the jumbotron above the south endzone for a powerpoint tribute to the department, featuring faculty photos and a few candid shots.

Short talks were giving in the morning by Charles Brenner, Pamela Geyer, Ernesto Fuentes, Lori Wallrath and Peter Rubenstein. After lunch, short talks were given by David Price, Sheila Baker, Adrian Elcock and the department’s 2011 faculty recruit, Miles Pufall.

The poster session featured 32 posters. Eight poster awards were given in 4 divisions. Rini Kasinathan from the Geyer laboratory earned the undergraduate prize. Sarah Bergeron from the Rubenstein laboratory, Lawrence Gray from the Khademi laboratory, and Tyson Shepherd from the Fuentes laboratory won first, second and third places in the graduate student division. Jeffrey Cooper from the Price laboratory took honors among research assistants. Finally, Rebecca Fagan from the Khademi laboratory, George Dialynas from the Wallrath laboratory, and Kuo-Kuang Wen from the Rubenstein laboratory won first, second and third places in the post-doctoral division.

The retreat was clearly an energizing event for first year graduate students in attendance. Thanks to all of the presenters and to everyone for participating.

Charles Brenner named Roy J. Carver chair

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust and the UI Foundation have announced that Charles Brenner, head of the Department of Biochemistry, has been named the Roy J. Carver Chair in Biochemistry. Dr. Brenner is a 1983 graduate of Wesleyan, who worked at Chiron Corporation and DNAX Research Institute before attending graduate school at Stanford (1988-1993). After post-doctoral work with Gregory Petsko and Dagmar Ringe at Brandeis, Brenner held independent positions at Jefferson (1996-2003) and Dartmouth (2003-2009) before being recruited to the University of Iowa. The Brenner laboratory utilizes enzymology, model system genetics and structural biology to dissect the normal functions of genes that are inactivated in cancer development and to discover and characterize novel aspects of metabolism that are regulated by changing nutritional conditions.