NSF grant benefits chemistry research/local H.S. outreach

December 21, 2009

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., Dec. 21, 2009, 2009 -- The National Science Foundation has announced an award of a $247,553 to Enrique Peacock-Lopez, professor of chemistry at Williams College, in support of his project, "A Dynamical Study of Chemical Self-Replication and Regulatory Mechanisms." The research will include the participation of undergraduate students and, in addition, the project will support upgrading local high school chemistry teaching.

This project expands on work in chemical self-replication and in chemical and biochemical regulatory mechanisms in solutions and on surfaces. The work will provide insights into different processes' time scales and used to determine efficient ways to modify or redirect overall biochemical dynamics.

Developing an understanding of chemical self-replication and the genetic regulation of biochemical mechanisms can contribute to the understanding of diseases, including AIDS and mad cow disease.

The grant will also support the upgrade of regional high school chemistry courses to Advanced Placement Chemistry, as well as including a college advising component targeting potential first generation college students.

This is an extension of the Williams College chemistry department's high school outreach program, now in its 10th year. The department offers 20 labs a year in introductory chemistry for high school teachers and their students at Drury High School in North Adams, Mass., and Hoosac Valley High School in Cheshire, Mass.

Peacock-Lopez's research interests focus on nonlinear dynamics investigations of systems of biological interest, and the mechanism of transport of incompletely spliced mRNAs across the nuclear membrane.

At Williams, he teaches quantum chemistry, theoretical biophysical chemistry, thermodynamics, and the concepts of chemistry, among others. Before coming to Williams in 1988, Lopez taught at the University of California, San Diego, and University of California, Davis.

He received his B.S. from Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and his Ph.D. from the University of California at San Diego.
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Williams College

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