Chacón Lab


Principal Investigator

Dr. Kelly Chacón

Kelly is an Assistant Professor of chemistry at Reed College. She was a high school dropout who proudly received her GED at Clatsop Community College eight years later, then moved on to Mt Hood Community College before catching the chemistry bug and earning a B.S. with latin and departmental honors at Portland State University. She moved on to Oregon Health & Science University where she specialized in the bioinorganic chemistry of copper, and earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2015. She joined Reed College in fall of 2015. In her spare time she watches Adventure Time, tries to cook elaborate recipes, rides her BMX (Magdalena) and scooter (McScoot), and is constantly listening to or going out to hear music.

Current Lab Members

Akanksha Majumdar ‘18

Akanksha is a recent Reed graduate from Bangalore, India. She got her B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In the past year and a half she worked in the Chacón lab investigating the genes and proteins involved with tellurium resistance in bacteria. The project then developed into her thesis, titled “Have You Heard About TerD: The Characterization and Investigation of Proteins Expressed From the ter Operon”. During her time working in the Chacón lab she assisted in XAS data collection from the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. Akanksha has two fake teeth, she claims that a mermaid stole them during one of her scuba diving expeditions or that they fell out when she was headbanging too hard to her music or that they were used as payment to the artistic gods so she could somewhat draw; the story keeps changing.

Hayden Adoff ‘19

Hayden is a senior at Reed College getting his B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. At Reed, he has had experience being a tutor for Introductory Chemistry and Organic Chemistry, and a lab teaching assistant for Organic Chemistry and Computational Biology. The past two summers, Hayden has worked in the Chacón lab to express the proteins in the ter operon in order to characterize these little known tellurium resistance proteins. Outside of work, Hayden enjoys the company of his animal friends, Morty the dog, Frank the axolotl, and his ball python he’s too indecisive to name.

Mortimer “Morty” Adoff ‘19

Although Morty was found on the streets little more than a year ago, he has found his home at Reed by being an eager lecture-goer, a helping paw to tutors, and avid explorer of the Reed College Canyon.

Varik Harris ‘19

Varik is a current senior hoping to get his B.A. in biochemistry and molecular biology next year and spare his parents another year of paying tuition. Coming from Nashville, TN Varik’s love for the sciences began while a student at the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt where he was an intern in the S.E.N.S.E. lab headed by Dr. Blythe Corbett. Within the Chacon lab, his focus has been turned to the production of membrane scaffolding proteins and their use in the production of nanodiscs. In his spare time, he takes pictures of whatever or whoever happens to be in front of him, and debates whether or not he wants to get a haircut after eight (possibly more, he’s lost count) years.

Ruth Valsquier ‘20

Ruth is currently pursuing a B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Her college experience has been defined by time spent in the lab, from time in Antos lab (Western Washington University) where she participated in an REU focused on the fine tuning the expression of Sortase A to her time at Reed where she has worked in the Glasfeld lab investigating the sALAD gene to create a scaffold for small protein imaging with cryo-EM. This summer her work in the Chacon lab has been with two copper resistance proteins with unique expression and purification challenges, CusA a membrane bound protein and CupA which is found in inclusion bodies. Before she starting growing E. coli she raised chickens to try and investigate the heritability of curled feathers, extra toes, comb shape, and skin pigmentation at her family home in Stanwood, Washington.

Sydney Valsquier ‘20

Sydney spent her early adulthood as a full time mother. Once her children grew up she began looking for a new job. Professional envelope eater did not pan out, so she began attending Reed with the hope of earning a degree to further her employment opportunities. Her fellow students worry about her academic performance as she has yet to remain awake for a full lecture or exam, however her professors are impressed with her work.


Dr. Ninian J Blackburn, OHSU – Cu and Ag detoxification and trafficking

Dr. David Giedroc, IU – multidimensional NMR of metalloproteins

Dr. Aaron T. Smith, UMBC – Structure/function of Fe proteins

Dr. Erik T. Yukl, NMSU– Structure/function of Zn proteins

Dr. James Chen, OHSU – Structure/function of Te proteins –Cryo EM

Dr. Yan Kung, Bryn Mawr – Structure/function of Te proteins –Crystallography and enzymology

Dr. Sonia Underwood, FIU – Increasing diversity and inclusivity in chemical education curriculum

Former Lab Members

Jona Perkins ‘16

Ethan Ho ‘16

Zac Mathe ‘17

Ben Patterson ‘19

Gaby Bailey ‘20

Cat Neshyba ‘17

Jaime Kim ‘17

Sarah Brodessor ‘18

Akanksha Majumdar ‘18