Othon, Willoughby among collaborators receiving major National Science Foundation grant

A National Science Foundation grant worth more than $259,000 over four years has been awarded for an interdisciplinary research study led by Associate Professor of Physics Christina Othon, and her collaborators Associate Professor of Chemistry Patrick Willoughby and Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

The study was recommended for funding from the Division of Chemistry: Chemical Structure, Dynamics, and Mechanisms A program. The work involves a combination of standard thermodynamic techniques, ultrafast spectroscopy, and computational simulation on how sugars interact with proteins.

“The proposed research has broad application to the applied fields of agriculture, pharmacology, ecology, cosmetics, food science and materials science,” Othon says. “… Improved knowledge of how these molecules function and their biological interactions could be useful in enabling geneticist to make crops more heat-tolerable and to help stabilize the food supply.”

The NSF funding will directly support two student stipends at Ripon per year and will be used primarily by students in the Summer Opportunities for Advance Research program. It also will provide travel funds for conferences as well as publications. Using this grant, the investigators aim to support low-income and minority students in exploring careers in science and graduate programs in science.

(Photo: Christina Othon, left, and Patrick Willoughby)

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