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Chem Prof Wins Grant to Investigate Sinister Pathogen

By Lauren Cooper ’16 on April 05, 2016 02:33 PM

Pathogenic E. coli is a leading cause of diarrhea, which killed 1.5 million children in 2009 alone.

Professor Kelly Chacón [chemistry 2015–] has won a grant of $53,500 from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust to study pathogenic bacterial metal detox via x-ray absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy.

She plans to use a combination of state-of-the-art spectroscopy and biochemical methods to understand how pathogenic E. coli thwart excess copper levels. Prof. Chacón hopes that understanding this mechanism will allow scientists to develop alternatives to traditional antibiotics to which pathogenic bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant.

She views the project as an ideal field of study for undergraduate chemistry students. The grant will allow Prof. Chacón to select several students to travel to a national laboratory with her and provide them with an invaluable learning experience.

Read more about Prof. Jay Mellies [bio] and his research into a gut-wrenching mystery.