In the News
Professor Scott Mabury
Over the last decade, the production and use of environmentally persistent long-alkyl-chain fluorocarbons such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) has been significantly reduced with the final aim of elimination and some researchers and environmental groups are now calling for the elimination of short-chain replacements as well. Professor Scott Mabury approaches the problem differently – his research group is working to develop a fluorinated surfactant that will completely defluorinate to form carbon dioxide and fluoride ions under normal environmental conditions. While also pleased to see the fluorochemicals industry clean up their chemistry, Mabury believes that instead of focusing on banning chemicals, researchers should be encouraged to develop new, non-persistent alternatives that maintain the same desirable properties as the persistent fluorochemicals. As he recently noted to Chemical & Engineering News, “the challenge is not to deny the fundamental ability of chemists to be creative but to keep working at it.” Read the full story at Chemical & Engineering News: http://cen.acs.org/articles/93/i28/Shrinking-Case-Fluorochemicals.html
Congrats to Jeff An, Spencer Zhao, Alexander Cui and Scott Xiao!
We are thrilled to announce the Canadian results from the 47th International Chemistry Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan. There are as follows:
- Scott Xiao (Burnaby North Secondary School): silver medal (placed 36th in the world) Alexander Cui (University of Toronto Schools): silver medal
- Spencer Zhao (University of Toronto Schools): bronze medal
- Jeff An (University of Toronto Schools): bronze medal
These results are very notable for a number of reasons. It is the first time that Canadian team members have all earned medals at a "Russian" Olympiad, and the first time that silver medals have been earned at such an event. In addition, team captain Scott Xiao was one place away from earning a gold medal, the best performance by a Canadian student in four years.
New Route to Rare Heterocycles (Yudin group)
As part of a long-term research effort to develop new amphoteric molecules for chemical synthesis, Piera Trinchera and Victoria Corless of the Yudin lab came up with a new way of constructing challenging heterocycles for medicinal chemistry and materials science. For a cover story in Chemical and Engineering News, see http://cen.acs.org/articles/93/web/2015/06/New-Route-Rare-Heterocycles.html.
Congrats Lewis Kay & Dwayne Miller!
The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research launched four new research programs. Two Chemistry faculty, R.J. Dwayne Miller and Lewis E. Kay as well as Oliver P. Ernst from the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics are members of the new program "Molecular Architecture of Life" that is co-directed by Miller and Ernst. For details see the CIFAR program website: http://www.cifar.ca/molecular-architecture-of-life
Frank Wania and Carl Mitchell’s collaborative project is one of twelve at U of T now funded by NSERC's Strategic Project Grants Program
NSERC recently announced that a project developed by Professor Frank Wania and Environmental Science Professor Carl Mitchell is one of twelve U of T projects awarded funding from its Strategic Grants Program. The program awarded $5.3 million to early-stage projects at the University of Toronto that might otherwise go unfunded due to their high-risk nature. Wania and Mitchell's project addresses the high-cost of the current technique for measuring atmospheric mercury, which limits analysis to scattered sites in wealthy countries. Because the prototype tool they’ve developed makes measuring atmospheric mercury simple and inexpensive, it could lead to more widespread testing and source identification of mercury contamination, most importantly in countries where the current technique is not affordable. U of T News has published an article on the NSERC program that features Wania and Mitchell's project.
Professor Bernie Kraatz develops new compound that improves anti-cancer drug research
Professor Bernie Kraatz has developed a new process for monitoring the effectiveness of drugs - including ones used to fight cancer - that is easier, safer and less costly than its predecessors. The process uses a new compound to monitor protein kinases. Traditionally researchers monitored this group of enzymes using radioactive isotopes, which are expensive, have a short shelf-life, and are difficult to handle and dispose of. The new process replaces the radioactive label with a redox label. Researchers can add the safer compound to living cells and monitor an electrical signal the compound emits. The signal gives an accurate measure of kinase activity as it regulates metabolic pathways, cell communication, cell division, cell death, and other biochemical pathways. Over and under expression of kinase activity is linked with many diseases including cancer, and the ability to monitor the activity is crucial in measuring the effectiveness of treatments. Bernie’s discovery is featured in U of T News.
Christine Le Named to Forbes' Top 30 Under 30 Science List
Christine Le (Lautens' group) has been named to the Forbes’ Top 30 Under 30 Science list. She’s been cited as a rising star by Forbes for her research on designing more efficient and environmentally-friendly methods to create molecules that are mainly used by pharmaceutical drug and chemical manufacturing industries.
To read more about Christine, please visit, http://news.artsci.utoronto.ca/news/chemistry-phd-candidate-forbes-top-30-under-30-science-list/.
Malcolm Bersohn 1925-2014
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our colleague, Prof. Malcom Bersohn. Malcom was a generous and well-liked member of the Department. He graduated from Harvard in 1943, and following service in China with the U.S. Army he completed a Ph. D. at Columbia University in 1960 with Prof. Gilbert Stork. After a brief appointment at the California Research Corporation, he joined our department in 1962. He retired in 1990, and was an active Professor Emeriti since that time, working on the development of computer programs for the design of organic synthetic pathways.
An obituary has been posted at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestar/obituary.aspx?n=malcolm-bersohn&pid=173122418.
Myrna & Andre Simpson's Work on NMR & Environmental Chemistry
Ten years ago, Myrna Simpson and Andre Simpson placed their first soil sample in a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer. In doing so, they were among the first people in the world to study, on a molecular level, how contaminants and toxins bind in soil, giving them a window on new ways to clean up contaminated sites. In 2004, the pair worked with U of T Scarborough and Bruker BioSpin, a German scientific instruments company, to create the Environmental NMR Centre, a facility dedicated to a pioneering mix of molecular chemistry and environmental science. Their unique combination of chemistry and environmental science allows them to measure how climate change affects the fundamental molecular composition of soil and water including in sensitive areas such as Canada’s Arctic, and as far as they know, no other laboratory in the world can match the kind of research they undertake. To read the full article visit 10 Years Later.
Judith Poë and Andy Dicks co-chaired the IUPAC 23rd International Conference on Chemistry Education which was held July 13-18 in Toronto.
The conference, which had not been held in Canada since 1989, attracted over 450 registrants from 40 countries. Plenary lecturers included Bassam Shakhashiri of the University of Wisconsin and past president of the American Chemical Society, whose address was highlighted by vibrant demonstrations; University of Toronto Nobel laureate, John Polanyi, who addressed “How Discoveries are Made and Why it Matters”; Hsin-Kai Wu of the National Taiwan Normal University, who presented her research on the use of representations in chemistry teaching; Diane Bunce of the Catholic University of America and recipient of the ACS George C. Pimentel Award for Chemical Education who spoke on the use of teaching technology for research into learning; and Jorge Ibáñez of the Universidad Iberoamericana and founder of the Mexican Green and Microscale Chemistry Center, who described the minimization of energy expenditure in electrochemical systems. In addition, there were 8 keynote speakers distributed over the 26 symposia, 9 hands-on workshops and 10 exhibitors. Further coverage of the event can be found at uoft.me/ICCE.
Mitch Winnik selected as the 2014 Kanig Lecturer
The jury of the Berlin-Brandenburg Association of Polymer Science (BVP) has selected University Professor Mitch Winnik to be the 2014 Kanig Lecturer. His plenary lecture at the Polydays 2014 conference in Berlin will be named the Kanig Lecture, and the award ceremony will take place on Oct 2, 2014. Former Kanig Lecturers have been Jean Fréchet, Richard Friend, Bartosz Gryzbowski, and Gerhard Wegner. Congratulations Mitch!
Professor Molly Shoichet Appointed Senior Advisor on Science and Engineering Engagement
In this role Professor Shoichet will build partnerships and implement strategies to promote the University of Toronto’s remarkable strengths in science and engineering research. She will seek out innovative opportunities for engagement among U of T scientists, external organizations, and the public, and she will work closely with colleagues and the community to demonstrate the impact that U of T researchers are having on many facets of life, including key determinants of our future—health, environment, and energy, among others. Professor Molly Shoichet holds the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Tissue Engineering and is Professor of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, Chemistry, and Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto. To find out more about Professor Shoichet’s work visit: scienceengagement.utoronto.ca/ and uoft.me/shoichet-stem.
This is Your Brain on Art
Metaforming Nature, at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, is the result of a collaboration between art scientist Todd Siler and nanoscientist Geoffrey Ozin, which began with a shared interest in how the integration of art and science can generate innovative frameworks for a sustainable future. With the global population predicted to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, accompanied by mounting demand for fossil fuels to spur economic growth, the fate of humankind seems tenuous at best. Ozin’s research into nanochemistry, however, suggests an antidote to the fear of environmental collapse and mass extinction. If nanotechnology can mimic a process like photosynthesis in plants then carbon dioxide ceases to be a noxious gas and becomes a resource. Siler’s art gives form to these concepts, particularly how the brain interacts with nature as it connects and transforms everything nature creates in personally meaningful and purposeful ways. For further information is available here and at: www.artnanoinnovations.com
Jennifer Murphy Leads Study on Smog-Producing Toxins and Air Quality in the GTA
A study about air quality in the GTA was recently featured in an article by the Toronto Star where the research, led by Jennifer Murphy, showed that the GTA had significantly reduced some of the toxins that contributed to smog, however the city still continues to violate the Canada-wide standards for ozone air pollution: “We are able to show that high ozone in 2012 was due to the relatively high number of sunny days that allowed ozone to be produced quickly, and low winds, that allowed the pollution to accumulate locally,” said Murphy. Smog can cause or aggravate health problems such as asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and is formed from pollutants such as vehicle exhaust, power plants and factories. For more information visit uoft.me/gta-smog.
Canadian Team Earns Silver and Bronze Medals at the International Chemistry Olympiad
The Canadian team, led by Barb Morra, has earned two silver and two bronze medals at the 46th International Chemistry Olympiad held in Vietnam this July. Impressively, the two silver medals went to Ontario students John Zhou and Sabrina Ge, both from University of Toronto Schools, whom Barb mentored at the provincial Olympiad level this year. A number of our graduate students also helped out at the National Camp that was held at Ryerson in May.
Sophie Rousseaux will be Joining the Department as a New Faculty Member in 2015
Sophie Rousseaux will start on July 1, 2015 as an organic research faculty member in the department. The Rousseaux Group will be interested in catalysis, organic synthesis, and supramolecular chemistry. They will develop new tools to address current limitations in transition metal catalysis, including the functionalization of organic molecules through carbon-heteroatom bond activation. They will also be exploring new strategies based on scaffolding and supramolecular chemistry to control catalyst configurations and ultimately reaction outcomes.
Scott Mabury, Doug Stephan & Derek Muir make Reuters’ Highly Cited Researchers List for 2014
In a recent article by the Globe and Mail, a list of Highly Cited Researchers for 2014 has highlighted the top scientific researchers in the world, as revealed in an analysis by Thomson Reuters. This list includes Doug Stephan who was listed for Chemistry and Scott Mabury who was listed for Environment/Ecology, while Derek Muir, an Adjunct Professor in the Department, was also listed for the Environment/Ecology category. On this international list of over 3000 science researchers, only 16 were from U of T, with inclusion on the list signifying that these are the top 1% of the most highly cited science researchers in their given field. Congratulations to Scott, Doug and Derek for achieving such a significant ranking for their research publications. For further information visit uoft.me/highly-cited.
Dwight Seferos granted Tenure as Associate Professor
Join us in congratulating Dwight Seferos, who has formally been granted tenure at the rank of Associate Professor.
Members of the Abbatt and Murphy Research Groups Conduct Climate Research in the Arctic this Summer
Members of the Abbatt and Murphy research groups are conducting climate research in the Arctic this summer as part of the NSERC-funded network NETCARE (Network on Climate and Aerosols: Addressing Key Uncertainties in Remote Canadian Environments). Led by U of T, with Jon Abbatt as PI, this collaboration includes scientists from ten Canadian universities, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Alfred Wegener Institute (Germany) and a number of other international collaborators. Measurements are being conducted from both the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, the Amundsen (as seen on the Canadian $50 bill), and a German research aircraft, the POLAR6. For more information visit http://www.netcare-project.ca/amundsen-and-polar6-blog-1/.
Fast, Portable Device for ‘On-the-Go,’ Laboratory-Quality Cocaine Testing
Recently featured in articles by the American Chemical Society and Phys.Org, this backpack sized device has the potential to perform highly accurate and sensitive tests anywhere within 15 minutes. “We expect that our device could be used for many different kinds of tests in which laboratory-quality results are needed quickly and wherever you happen to be,” said University of Toronto Professor of Chemistry Aaron Wheeler. He and colleagues explained that the current two-stage system of pre-screening followed by lab testing urine for commonly abused drugs is expensive and time-consuming, while samples could also could get lost or compromised while in transport. The ideal solution, they say, is to skip the pre-screening step and instead bring the lab to the site, but in an easy-to-use, portable package. The team put together a compact system that can do all the steps, extracting commonly abused drugs from urine with a microfluidic device coupled to a small mass spectrometer that can identify the substances. The project is a joint initiative of the Wheeler Microfludics Laboratory at U of T and R. Graham Cooks, the Henry B. Hass Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry at Purdue University. Research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) and the U.S. National Science Foundation. Further info can be found at uoft.me/portable-drug-testing.
Grads to Watch: Entrepreneur Christina Mueller is Revolutionizing Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is a tiny arena with very big consequences. Breakthroughs in it mean life-changing developments in medical procedures, drug innovations, battery developments and more. Having recently graduated this month with a PhD in Chemistry, Christina Mueller is revolutionizing how researchers visualize nanotechnology. “Imagine yourself looking at a drug attacking a cell in real time, in real life,” said Mueller, celebrating her fellowship from the Ontario Centre of Excellence for work with her start up, Insight Nanofluidics. It enables a new way of performing microscopy on the molecular scale, allowing for in situ and dynamic studies. Insight’s technology has the power to impact nanotechnology across different fields: biology, medical sciences, pharma development, materials sciences, battery development, catalysis development and more. The spectrum of applications for the product is huge and the impact can already be seen in cutting edge research that is based on it.
To find out more visit uoft.me/ChristinaMuellerNanotechnology
Mark Nitz has been promoted to Full Professor effective July 1, 2014.
Dwight Seferos featured in Emerging investigators issue - Journal of Materials Chemistry A
This inaugural themed issue highlights the important work done by scientists at the early stages of their careers in materials chemistry. Dwight’s profile can be viewed here: http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2014/ta/c4ta90043j?page=search. His article “Influence of selenophene–thiophene phase separation on solar cell performance” compares the morphology and solar cell device performance of selenpohehe-thiophene copolymers that have the same degree of polymerization and composition, and differ only in their sequence (statistical vs. block copolymers). The co-authors on the paper are: Dong Gao, Jon Hollinger & Ashlee A. Jahnke. To read more, please visit: http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2014/ta/c3ta14101b?page=search
During a sabbatical, Professor Andrei Yudin launched a blog – amphoteros.com. The Chemical and Engineering News recently asked Andrei to sum up his views on science blogging. Here is a link to this article: http://cenblog.org/grand-central/2014/03/guest-post-why-i-am-blogging-on-amphoteros-com-by-andrei-yudin/
Eugenia Kumacheva in collaboration with teams from Jilin University and the University of North Carolina has shown that in the course of self-assembly, nanoparticles act as artificial co-monomer molecules. This analogy offers the ability to create a model system to test many assumptions made in molecular copolymerization. The copolymerization of nanoparticles (nanomers) can be studied by a set of tools that are not available for their molecular counterparts, e.g., by direct visualization or by monitoring plasmonic coupling between individual nanoparticles. Copolymers of nanoparticles show interesting coupled optical, electronic, and magnetic properties, which depend on the nanochain structure. The "molecular copolymerization" approach to hybrid chains offers control over the structure and properties of nanoparticle assemblies.
This work was published in Angewandte Chemie as a Very Important Paper (VIP) and highlighted in Chemical & Engineering News, 92(10), March 10, 2014. To read more, please visit: http://www.chemistryviews.org/details/ezine/5770061/Copolymerization_of_Metal_Nanoparticles.htm
In 2011, Geoffrey Ozin co-founded with Todd Siler ArtNano Innovations. A natural resonance - energy is color and color is energy - provides a dynamic thread that fuses the aesthetics of Geoffrey Ozin's science with the beauty of Todd Siler’s art, to create hot, bold and thought-provoking visualizations of the nano world.
These ArtNano works are envisioned to catalyze and cultivate curiosity, imagination, wonder and innovation! Using multimedia artworks and aesthetic experiences, they aim to explore the possibilities of nature-inspired innovations in nanoscience and nanotechnology that can benefit humankind by meeting our global challenges.
This project considers new ways of synthesizing and responsibly applying nanomaterials. It also critiques the significant impact these developments are having on the built and natural environment - and on humanity - taking into account the "materials to nanomaterials" paradigm shift that’s underway today, http://www.artnanoinnovations.com/.
The inaugural artnano works, NanoWorld, sponsored by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts New York, http://www.feldmangallery.com/ is being held at The Armory Show, Pier 94, New York, on March 6-9th, 2014, http://www.thearmoryshow.com/.
Environmental health risks of Alberta oil sands likely underestimated
Environmental Science doctoral student Abha Parajulee under the supervision of Frank Wania used an environmental contaminant fate model to investigate the plausibility of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) emission estimates reported for the Athabasca oilsands region in Environmental Impact Assessments and the National Pollutant Release Inventory. Predicted environmental concentrations that are much lower than measured ones, suggest that important pathways of environmental PAH release, such as evaporation from tailings ponds and blowing dust from open mine faces, have been overlooked. Since the emissions form the basis of assessments of risk to human health and the environment, a complete and accurate accounting of toxic air emissions is paramount.
Successfully mimicking the leaf has the potential to profoundly change the global energy industry
Geoffrey Ozin and his team of approximately 30 researchers are working on developing artificial photosynthesis – the concept of mimicking the natural processes of the leaf by taking carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere and combining it with sunlight and water to create hydrocarbons such as methane or methanol. “Carbon dioxide is a fuel, says Ozin, It’s not a waste product. It’s a whole new take. We just have to learn to run the world in reverse.”
The ideal end goal of scientists like Ozin, is to create a liquid or gas-based hydrocarbon fuel. Professor Ozin doesn’t see the practical implementation of hydrocarbon fuels via artificial photosynthesis as a means of replacing fossil fuels, but rather a way to have the two working in tandem to create carbon neutrality by having the former use the latter’s carbon emissions as a key ingredient to hydrocarbon fuel generation.
To read more, please visit: Financial Post
Long-lived greenhouse gas discovered by members of the Mabury Group
Scott Mabury, along with Angela Hong and Cora Young have discovered a chemical, perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA), that is the most radiatively efficient chemical found to date, breaking all other chemical records for its potential to impact climate. This chemical is produced by humans, and does not occur naturally. There are no known processes that would remove PFTBA from the lower atmosphere. “PFTBA is extremely long-lived in the atmosphere and it has a very high radiative efficiency; the result of this is a very high global warming potential. Calculated over a 100-year timeframe, a single molecule of PFTBA has the equivalent climate impact as 7100 molecules of CO2,” said Hong.
To read more please visit: http://www.artsci.utoronto.ca/
New synthetic methods promise to be greener, safer and cheaper in drug and perfume production
Science Magazine has reported on a series of techniques to create iron-based catalysts developed by Bob Morris and his team. They have substituted iron in place of the rare elements of ruthenium, rhodium, palladium and platinum traditionally used in the design of the catalysts. Morris explained, "There is a research effort world-wide to make chemical processes more sustainable and green, by replacing the rare, expensive and potentially toxic elements used in hydrogenation, catalytic converters in cars, fuel cells for the efficient conversion of chemical energy into electricity, and silicone coatings, with abundant ions such as iron."
To read more, visit: http://www.artsci.utoronto.ca/main/newsitems/iron-based-catalysts
Lecture: Photosynthetic Machines: Why Nature is Astounding
Professor Gregory D. Scholes, D.J. LeRoy Distinguished Professor, will present a lecture, "Photosynthetic Machines: Why Nature is Astounding", November 26, 2013 at 7:30 pm, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University. Introduction by Nobel Laureate, Professor John C. Polanyi. Free and Open to Public.
Click here for more details and to RSVP.
Improving MRI scans with safer, more sensitive contrast agents
Professor Xiao-an Zhang is developing safer, more sensitive MRI contrast agents. "There are more than 10 million gadolinium-based MRI’s done globally per year," says Zhang. "As a chemist, I want to make a contrast agent that can enhance sensitivity in order to highlight the diseased tissue better, and also make it less toxic at the same time."
To read more about his research, visit http://ose.utsc.utoronto.ca...
Techno 2013: Taking Innovation to the Marketplace
Since 2010, the IOS’s annual Techno workshop for entrepreneurship has helped young scientists and engineers create over 41 start-up companies in the physical sciences. Shortly before Techno13, which ran from June 17-July 12, Professor Cynthia Goh discussed the growth of Techno with U of T news. Over the last year, Techno has expanded into new space at the Banting and Best Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; partnered with the Ontario Brain Institute Entrepreneurs Programs; and is being spun off from the Institute of Optical Sciences (IOS) the Impact Centre, a new unit that devoted exclusively to industry-academic partnerships. “The most exciting path is always into the unknown,” Professor Goh commented. “Support from key members of the university and wider community for entrepreneurship training has allowed us to develop Techno to where it is today, and it looks like the groups interested in supporting this type of work will only grow.”
To read more about Techno, visit http://www.news.utoronto.ca/techno-2013-where-student-entrepreneurs-meet-seasoned-mentors
Photo credit: Diana Tyszko
Adrian Gibbs Brook 1924-2013
Adrian Gibbs Brook, 89, died on July 10, 2013 in Toronto of complications from cancer. Born in 1924 and educated in Toronto, he obtained a Ph.D. degree in Organic Chemistry from the University of Toronto (UofT) in 1950. After 3 years of teaching and post-doctoral studies abroad, he returned to the UofT to lecture, and to carry out research in the area of Organosilicon Chemistry. This work became known from numerous research papers and review articles, and particularly by his discovery of a chemical reaction which became known as the Brook Rearrangement, and from his synthesis of the first stable compounds to contain silicon-carbon double bonds. This new chemistry was recognized and honored by fellowship in the Chemical Institute of Canada, the Royal Society of Canada, the F.S. Kipping Award of the ACS in 1973, the CIC Medal in 1985, the Killam Memorial Prize in 1994, and being named as University Professor (1987) by the UofT together with its award of an Honorary Doctor of Science degree in 2006. In the same year he completed, with W.A.E. McBryde, a history of the Department of Chemistry since its beginning entitled "Historical Distillates - Chemistry at the University of Toronto since 1843".
Apart from his first loves of teaching and research, Brook was an enthusiastic and creative problem solver and family fixer. In 1965 he build a cottage, with help from family and friends, on a small lake in Muskoka, where he and the family spent almost every summer (and in earlier days parts of fall, winter and spring), swimming, sailing, waterskiing and windsurfing and doing the thousand and one things demanded of a DIY'er.
Brook is survived by his wife Peg of 58 years, sons Michael and David, daughter Katherine, and seven grandchildren.
The UofT Magazine recently profiled Professor Patrick Gunning’s research on Stat3, a protein that drives tumour formation in cancerous cells. When Gunning realized that if he could find a way to disrupt the production of Stat3, he should, in theory, be able to stop cancer cells from replicating. “I really want to see a Stat3 drug in clinical trials,” Gunning says. “If I’m able to do that, I think I’ll have done my job.”
A new class of polymers
Ashlee Jahnke (Seferos group) has synthesized a new class of conducting polymers – polytellurophenes – that could bring about advances in organic solar cells and thin-film transistors. The polytellurophenes have a band gap of about 1.4 electron volts, are stable at a temperature of up to 300°C and soluble in chlorobenzene allowing them to be spray-coated onto large sheets. “We’re already making transistors as well as solar cells,” says Seferos. “We also hope to improve the properties by continuing to modify the structure.” Jahnke’s findings were recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Monitoring kinases may lead to cancer breakthroughs
Professor Bernie Kraatz is developing a device that could help detect the type of cancer a patient is suffering from, and determine the best treatment. Kraatz explained to the UTSc News, “The idea is to monitor kinases. These are proteins that govern every fundamental life process, from telling a cell when to divide to telling a cell when to die.”
To read more about his research, visit http://ose.utsc.utoronto.ca/ose/story.php?id=4784§id=1
Shedding light on carotenoids
Professor Greg Scholes recently led an international team of scientists from the University of Toronto and the University of Glasgow in a series of experiments that have showed carotenoids (pigments that colour vegetables) have “dark states”; a hidden level not used for light absorption which acts as a mediator to help pass energy to chlorophyll pigments. “It is utterly counter-intuitive that a state not participating in light absorption is used in this manner,” says Scholes. “It is amazing that nature uses so many aspects of a whole range of quantum mechanical states in carotenoid molecules, moreover, and puts those states to use in such diverse ways.”
To read more about his findings, visit http://news.utoronto.ca/university-toronto-led-study-provides-new-insight-photosynthesis
Aaron Wheeler has been promoted to Full Professor effective July 1, 2013.
Hydrogels Take Multiple Shapes
Scientists have been striving to create materials that shape-shift in response to the surrounding environment. Some experimental materials have already been synthesized that deform because of a change in a single parameter, such as temperature, but they can take only one of two shapes. Professor Eugenia Kumacheva’s research team have programmed a polymer hydrogel to adopt multiple shapes in response to multiple triggers. This recent work opens the door to more sophisticated shape-shifting materials than are now available. To read the full story, please visit: http://cen.acs.org/articles/91/i12/Hydrogels-Take-Multiple-Shapes.html
How scientists find their inspiration
Professor Cynthia Goh, Mayrose Salvador (PhD 2007 with Scholes), Andrea Nagy (PhD 2008 with Miller, currently a Postdoc with the Jockusch group), and Emina Veletanlic (PhD 2008 with Goh) were recently interviewed by the Globe and Mail and spoke about what inspires them as scientists. They also discussed how they aim to improve science literacy through their non-profit organization, Pueblo Science. Cynthia explained that her inspiration comes from her experiences, for instance, she visited a rural school in the Philippines and realized the students didn’t understand science at all. Andrea Nagy spoke about her inspiration, “I’m interested in helping people and I like science as well…It’s trying all these things that I like and [finding] where I feel I can make a difference.” During a video interview, Pueblo Science founder, Mayrose Salvador spoke about some of the work that Pueblo Science does, “We develop science kits that we bring to low resource settings including the developing countries…over the course of two years, we have impacted around 18,000 students.”
To read the article and watch the video, visit http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/video-where-does-electricity-come-from-pueblo-science-can-show-how/article9537569/
The satisfaction of science
Professor Andrea Sella (MSc 1986 with Morris) at University College London was recently interviewed by The Guardian Weekly. Speaking about how his research plays on his emotions, he shared, “there is something profoundly pleasurable in discussing results and observations with students and colleagues. The unexpected turns up in little ways in day-to-day research and each time a miniature brainstorming session ensues, where small adjustments are made to the research direction. More importantly, it is in these discussions that new ideas materialize, in moments of very human interplay. And it is only when we write up our work that we revert to the inhuman, impersonal passive voice that creates the convenient fiction that the individual is not a part of the action. But it is not how science is done.”
To read the article, visit http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/feb/10/scientists-emotions-highs-lows?INTCMP=SRCH
"Chemical" is Not a Bad Word
Dorea Reeser of the Donaldson Group recently wrote a blog post in Scientific American about the popular misuse of the word “chemicals.” She wrote this post to discuss the unfortunate effect marketing and media have had on the word “chemicals,” as well as to promote an outreach project called Chemicals Are Your Friends. The primary goal of CAYF is to provide accessible and fun information about chemicals to the everyday person. To read the full posting, please visit: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2013/03/08/chemical-is-not-a-bad-word/
The future of quantum dots in lighting and display technologies
Sony has produced a new range of televisions that are the first to use quantum dots to produce more vibrant colours than those which appear on conventional liquid-crystal display (LCD). These quantum dots could have a big future in lighting and display technologies, but they are expensive and difficult to manufacture and use toxic materials. Geoffrey Ozin and his colleagues believe they have found a way to deal with these problems by manufacturing the quantum dots with silicon instead of cadmium. While these silicon quantum dots are not about to replace those in Sony's new television just yet, with more work Dr. Ozin believes silicon-based quantum dots can be turned into viable light emitting devices.
For the full story please visit: http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2013/02/nanotechnology
LEDs Made From Silicon Quantum Dots Shine in New Colors
Quantum dots are semiconducting inorganic nanocrystals that have unique electronic properties that make them ideal to use in light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Scientists, including Geoffrey A. Ozin, have found a way to extend the colour range of silicon-based quantum dot LEDs by controlling the size of the dots. This could serve as an environmentally friendly alternative to LEDs that are based on heavy metals such as cadmium.
For the full story, please visit: http://cen.acs.org.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca
Graduate student, alumni win video contest for Scientific American
Two members of the chemistry family recently won Scientific American’s Iron Egghead video contest. They were challenged to create a video in 2 minutes or less explaining a part, process or system of the human body using seven everyday objects: paper, paper clips, pens, cups, string, rubber bands and balls. Their winning entry, The Adrenal Glands, by Raluca Ellis, Mike Ellis, Jason Lee, Dorea Reeser and Nigel Morton can be viewed from the link below:
For the full story please visit: here!
Rebecca Jockusch has been elected to the position of Secretary of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) for a two year term from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015. ASMS was formed in 1969 to promote and disseminate knowledge of mass spectrometry and allied topics, and currently has a membership of over 8,500 scientists.
The Toronto Star: Patrick Gunning listed as 1 of 12 people to watch in 2013
Patrick Gunning has a real chance at curing cancer. The drug that Gunning and his team have designed is a molecule that latches onto proteins called Stat3 and Stat5. Normally, these proteins switch on for a couple of minutes to help keep cells growing and alive. When these proteins malfunction, they don’t switch off, causing tumors to grow continuously. The designed molecule binds to these cancerous proteins and switches them off. When tested on mice, the drug cures breast cancer, multiple myeloma and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Gunning’s drug has also eradicated cancerous cells in tumours extracted from human patients, including those with brain cancer. The healthy cells did not suffer any side effects. These positive results have Gunning predicting trials of the drug on people with a particularly deadly form of brain cancer within three years. For the full story, please visit: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1307685
Greg Scholes to collaborate with researchers at Florida State University's MagLab using lasers
Florida State University's MagLab was recently awarded nearly $3 Million in grants by the National Science Foundation. These grants allow the purchase of different types of equipment that will allow researchers to split the magnet into a magneto-optical tool for research in physics, chemistry and biophysics. Greg Scholes will be collaborating with researchers from the University of Vermont and the University of Alabama at the MagLab using a split magnet that allows them to shoot laser beams at their samples. One goal with the collaboration is to test a new way of making some advanced tools available to users like Greg. For the full story please visit http://www.magnet.fsu.edu/mediacenter/news/pressreleases/2012/2012aug27.html
‘Techno program’ gives birth to startups
Cynthia Goh recently contributed an article to the Globe and Mail about the ‘Techno’ program and how ‘technopreneurs’ are nurtured at the University of Toronto. “During ‘Techno’, we work with students to build technology-intensive companies. … All our startups aim to create tangible products, which may take longer to get to market. … With our help, more than half of the companies are managing to bootstrap their way forward, and many are beginning to get sales, which creates value, creates jobs. And perhaps more importantly, we are keeping talent here in Canada.”
Celebrating an Outstanding Career in Chemistry
To honour Alex Harrison’s 80th birthday, the International Journal of Mass Spectrometry recently published a tribute issue. The issue contains 36 research papers spanning topics that Alex has been exploring during his outstanding career
To read the honour issue please visit, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/13873806/316-318
To 2027 and beyond!
Jennifer Murphy and her research on reactive nitrogen compounds was recently profiled in a UoT Research and Innovation report on how research today might impact the future. Murphy is unraveling the effect of reactive nitrogen-containing compounds in the environment. “One of the most important things we could do is transfer the technology we have to developing nations.” Murphy explains, “We live in a global society. We’re impacted by the pollution that’s made in other places, so why wouldn’t we be sharing the improvements we know about.”
For the full story please visit www.research.utoronto.ca (PDF).
Seferos Group: Carving out a niche with hollow gold nanotubes
The MRS Bulletin recently reported on the first-known successful synthesis of solution-suspendable hollow gold nanotubes. This discovery by the Seferos group will open the door to further development and study of these nanostructures, particularly in applications that require a high sensitivity to subtle changes in refractive index, such as sensing and imaging.
For the full story please visit here.
Chemistry CRCs Renewed
Jennifer Murphy and Warren Chan (cross-appointed with IBBME) have had their existing Canada Research Chair positions renewed, reports the UofT News. Professor Paul Young, VP Research offered his congratulations, "We…are proud that so many of our faculty members have been awarded CRCs. This is a testament to the scholarly excellence and consistent leadership shown by our researchers."
For the full story please click here.
Congratulations Jeremy and Deborah!
In the News
Jessica Sonnenberg (Morris group), is the lead author of a paper recently published in JACS and has been interviewed by UofT News. The discovery of environmentally friendly iron-based nanoparticle catalysts that work as well as expensive, toxic, metal-based catalysts currently used by the drug, fragrance and food industries promises cheaper and greener products. “It is always important to strive to make industrial syntheses more green, and using iron catalysts is not only much less toxic, but it is also much more cost effective,” Jessica told the UofT News. “Our discovery of functional surface nanoparticles opens the door to using much smaller ratios of these expensive compounds relative to the metal centres.”
In the News - Patrick Gunning
The Royal Society of Chemistry recently profiled Patrick Gunning in Chemistry World. The article reflects on his research path from his undergraduate days studying chemical physics to his current research in medicinal chemistry. The article also highlights his investigation of STAT3 and the development of a molecular scaffold that suppresses its cancer-related activities.
Read the full story at, http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/Issues/2011/December/AnticancerArchitect.asp
Bernie Kraatz has been appointed as Chair of the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences for a five year term from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2017.
Opening doors to better teaching
Andy Dicks serves as a mentor in the University of Toronto’s Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation program, Open Doors on Teaching, a collaborative initiative with the President’s Teaching Academy. “The outside perception is that we [at UofT] don’t care about teaching because we’re known as a research intensive university.” said Dicks. “But the reality is that departments take teaching more seriously than ever.”
Read the full story at, http://www.news.utoronto.ca/opening-doors-better-teaching
Quantum coherence is making waves in photosynthesis
Researchers have struggled to understand the nuances of photosynthesis for a long time. Their research is increasingly pointing to quantum effects such as coherence contributing to the ultrafast processes that follow absorption of sunlight. Recent research by Professor Greg Scholes on quantum coherence was highlighted in an article entitled “The Quantum Side of Photosynthesis”, in the Feb 20 issue of C&EN. “Coherence may contribute to photosynthetic efficiency, but how much is up for debate,” Scholes explained. “Another role that coherence might play in photosynthesis is to make the light-harvesting complexes more robust.” Further research will help researchers understand whether and how nature promotes quantum effects in biology; which can help scientists design nanoscale and polymer systems that would mimic photosynthesis and other systems that control the environment around molecules.
Read the full story at, http://cen.acs.org/articles/90/i8/Quantum-Side-Photosynthesis.html
Kumacheva and Stephan on Rogers TV
This story appears on ‘A Greener York’ on Rogers TV,
Try the Flash Video with transcript.
Andrei Yudin is at the forefront of Chemical Innovation
Andrei Yudin recently partnered with MaRS Innovation to create a spin-off company, Encycle Therapeutics, to further develop his technology for generating cyclic peptide libraries, a potential new hotbed for the development of pharmaceutical drugs. When asked about the future of pharmaceutical companies Dr. Yudin replied “…In my view, small and flexible companies who are aggressively pursuing discovery, are going to take center stage. This also means that the students must embrace these emerging opportunities and take advantage of them. I can see a lot more companies created around technologies that emerge from research universities.”
For the full story please visit: http://thevarsity.ca/2012/01/30/a-molecular-exchange-with-yudin/
Welcome to Lecturers Barb Morra and Jessica D’Eon!
Barb and Jessica will start on July 1, 2012 as Lecturers in the department. Barb Morra is finishing her PhD in Organic Chemistry at the University of Western Ontario under the supervision of Brian Pagenkopf. Jessica D’Eon did her PhD in Environmental Chemistry with Scott Mabury and then postdoctoral work with Myrna Simpson. Jessica and Barb will provide lecturing and lab expertise we need in the areas of environmental and organic chemistry, respectively, as well as general chemistry. Both women plan to mount ambitious undergraduate research programs and outreach activities.
Connecting Life Sciences Across the Ontario-Quebec Corridor
The Québec Consortium for Drug Discovery (CQDM) is funding two joint Quebec/Ontario research projects in biomedical research for a total of $1.5M. The two selected projects are orientated toward the development new tools that will accelerate the discovery of more efficient and safer drugs. CQDM is funding the Yudin lab with a $750K grant for the development of new drug discovery tools. The collaboration between the two provinces will enable Yudin (Toronto) and Marsault (Sherbrooke) to employ the tools of aziridine aldehyde-driven macrocyclization in close collaboration with Pfizer Canada, AstraZeneca, Merck, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd., Eli Lilly Canada, and GlaxoSmithKline.
For the full story please visit: www.lifesciencesontario.ca
Single-Cell Mass Cytometry named #4 top innovation of 2011 by The Scientist Magazine
CyTOF is a mass spectrometer, developed and designed by Scott Tanner's lab in the Department of Chemistry, that can feed researchers data about molecules within and on the surface of individual cells, revealing not only the cell’s identity but also some of its functions. It is a revolutionary instrument allowing the analysis of potentially over a hundred different antibodies binding to thousands of cells. “I saw us being able to look at the whole immune system at once and all of the biology it could do,” geneticist Garry Nolan of Stanford said. The CyTOF instrument "reads" cells that have been tagged with metal-chelated polymer that were developed in collaboration with Professors Mitch Winnik and Mark Nitz. The analytical technology will enable a new generation of systems analysis at the single-cell level that can be directly applied to clinical samples. The technology is being commercialized by DVS Sciences, a company that incubated in the Department before building out independent facilities in early 2011. Congratulations Scott!
For the full story, please visit: http://the-scientist.com/2012/01/01/top-ten-innovations-2011/
Eugenia Kumacheva - World needs science, science needs women
Recently, the Globe and Mail published two articles about the importance of women in the field of science. As the sole Canadian recipient of the L'Oreal-UNESCO "For Women in Science" Award (given to the best woman in science in the North America), was featured prominently in both articles as a strong advocate for women in science. The first article outlined the goals of the L'Oreal-UNESCO award, to raise the profile of women in science. The follow up interview article outlined the importance of teachers in influencing young girls and women to enter the field of science. Kumacheva's own interest in science was sparked by a high school chemistry teacher, which is why she states "it has to start with teachers." Finally, Eugenia was asked why we should care about the number of women in science careers. Her answer: "Because women constitute about 50 per cent of the population of the world. And because their creative, resourceful mind can lead to remarkable discoveries."
To read both articles, please visit: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/search/?q=kumacheva&searchField=keywords&searchQuery=*%3A*
Mike Thompson in the news!
Mike Thompson has been appointed Editor-in-Chief of a new RSC Book series termed “Chemical Detection Science.”
Andrei Yudin in the news!
The Ontario Genomics Institute (OGI) has invested into research that is aimed at developing novel methodologies to create effective peptide and protein based drugs. OGI has announced its investment in research carried out in the lab of Dr. Andrei Yudin. The goal of this funding is to continue to develop his work on new processes of converting linear peptides into circular molecules called macrocycles. The latter are emerging as a new class of molecules with potential in drug development. The Yudin Group is currently working on building a diverse library of macrocycles with the goal of identifying novel candidates with therapeutic potential. Yudin is working closely with pharmaceutical companies to build a library that will meet the needs of the industry.
To read the full stories, please visit:
Ulli Krull in the news
Ulrich Krull was a key presenter at the October 25th Mississauga Summit held at the U of T Mississauga campus. Established in 2007, the Summit serves as a forum for engaged residents to brainstorm a better future for the city. Krull states that developing a ‘culture of innovation' is critical to participating in tomorrow’s global marketplace. To drive Mississauga's culture of innovation, he proposes a senior influential leadership team composed of representatives from innovative industries, local government and post-secondary institutions. 'Countries around the world are investing in talented young people through post-secondary education in order to be competitive. We need to do the same. Mississauga is already facing shortages of skilled labour."
For the full story, please visit: http://www.utm.utoronto.ca/361.0.html?&tx_mininews_pi1[showUid]=4730&tx_mininews_pi1[backPid]=361&cHash=829b91419b
Patrick Gunning in the news!
The cellular protein STAT3 is implicated in the differentiation and proliferation of many cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, and breast, prostate, and brain tumours. STAT3 is a master gene regulator – responding to intracellular signals gone wrong, it can enter the cell’s nucleus, bind to DNA, and unleash a cascade of events that promotes distorted and unchecked cell growth. Patrick Gunning and his team at the University of Toronto at Mississauga have developed a dumbbell-shaped protein-membrane anchor that prevents STAT3 from moving into the nucleus. “Numerous cancer cell types rely upon STAT3 for survival,” explains Patrick. Inhibiting hyperactivated STAT3 signaling in cancer cells may sensitize cells to chemotherapy. Encouragingly, normal cells seem able to withstand inhibition of STAT3, making it an appealing target.
Patrick’s work is featured in Cancer Discovery, the American Association for Cancer Research magazine. To read the full story please visit: http://cancerdiscovery.aacrjournals.org/content/1/3.toc
Andrei Yudin appointed Associate Editor for the RSC’s Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry!
Andrei Yudin has been appointed Associate Editor for Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry. Congratulations Andrei!
Canada Post unveils stamp of U of T chemist John Polanyi
On Oct. 1, as part of Toronto's Nuit Blanche festival, Canada Post will unveil a limited-edition stamp that will honour the work of world-renowned University of Toronto chemist and Nobel Laureate John Polanyi.
Polanyi is one of three winners of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry in recognition of the development of the new field of reaction dynamics. He was cited for his pioneering work in developing the method of infrared chemiluminescence.
The complete story is available at, http://www.news.utoronto.ca/canada-post-unveils-stamp-u-t-chemist-john-polanyi
Green Organic Chemistry in Lecture and Laboratory, edited by Andy Dicks!
A recently published text book entitled Green Organic Chemistry in Lecture and Laboratory discusses concrete examples of green organic chemistry teaching approaches from both lecture/seminar and practical perspectives. Edited by Andy Dicks, this reference allows instructors to incorporate the material presented directly into their undergraduate courses. Congratulations Andy!
Microfluidics: Droplet-based method could help automate dried blood spot analysis
Aaron Wheeler and his co-workers have developed two digital microfluidic methods that could make analyzing dried blood spots more convenient. Wheeler’s team collaborated with researchers at Newborn Screening Ontario (NSO) in Ottawa, an organization that performs all newborn screening in Ontario. The team used the microfluidic method paired with tandem mass spectrometry to analyze samples for amino acids that are biomarkers for serious metabolic disorders in infants. The results obtained with the microfluidic methods were comparable to those obtained by the standard methods used at NSO. “The concept presented for this prototype device is truly revolutionary,” says Neil Spooner, a proponent of dried blood spot analysis at GlaxoSmithKline in Ware, England.
For the full story please visit: http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/89/i35/8935notw8.html
U of T researchers have developed new synthesis tools
In their efforts to develop highly efficient synthetic processes, U of T researchers have built surprisingly stable molecules that contain a nucleophilic carbon-boron bond and an electrophilic aldehyde group in its vicinity. These powerful reagents were developed by Zhi He and his advisor Professor Andrei Yudin.
For a cover story in Chemical & Engineering News, see http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/89/i35/8935notw1.html
U of T researchers build nano-antenna for light
U of T researchers have been inspired by the photosynthetic apparatus in plants and have engineered a new generation of nanomaterials that control and direct the energy absorbed from light. For many years, nanotechnologists have been captivated by quantum dots - particles of semiconductor that can absorb and emit light efficiently and at custom-chosen wavelengths.
Shana Kelley and Ted Sargent have discovered how to synthesize “artificial molecules” by using DNA and semiconductors to bind certain classes of nanoparticles to one another. This discovery provides a strategy to build higher-order structures, or complexes, out of multiple different types of quantum dots. “The amazing thing is that our antennas built themselves – we coated different classes of nanoparticles with selected sequences of DNA, combined the different families in one beaker and nature took its course. The result is a beautiful new set of self-assembled materials with exciting properties.”
For the full story please visit:
94th Canadian Chemistry Conference & Exhibition
Nine of our students won in various Divisions at the recent 94th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition. The Undergraduate Poster Competition turned out three U of T winners: In the Biological/Medicinal Chemistry Division, Daniel Ball scored first place and H. Shamsi & X. Gao tied in the Chemical Education Division. Michael Chudzinski of the Taylor Group placed third in the Organic Chemistry Division for the Graduate student Poster competition.
Raj Dhiman of the Kluger Group was awarded first place for his presentation in the Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Section. In the Oral Competitions, Katherine J Koroluk won first place in the Chemical Education Division, while Liliana Guevara Opinska won second. Sarah Styler of the Donaldson Group won the top student oral presentation in the Environmental Division and Brent D. G. Page of the Gunning Group won in the Biological & Medicinal Chemistry Division.
Congratulations to all winners!
Sticking it to cancer: Patrick Gunning in the news
Professor Patrick Gunning has found a way to make cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy by “gluing” cancer-promoting proteins to the cell’s membrane. Gunning’s research appears in the latest issue of the journal Angewandte Chemie. “This is a totally new approach to cancer therapy...Our approach inhibits the mobility of cancer-promoting proteins within cells – essentially, it’s like molecularly targeted glue.” Gunning explained to UofT News “This is ready to move to preclinical studies and this treatment could slow or stop the explosive growth of cancerous tumours. And for patients, this might reduce the need for really powerful chemotherapy, which can be very hard to tolerate.”
Read the full story at, http://www.news.utoronto.ca/lead-stories/molecular-glue-sticks-it-to-cancer.html
The dawn of quantum biology
A recent article in Nature entitled “The dawn of quantum biology” discusses a quantum phenomenon known as ‘coherence’, in which the wave patterns of every part of a system stay in step. At first glance, quantum effects and living organisms seem to occupy two utterly different realms. However, recent discoveries suggest that Mother Nature knows a few tricks that physicists don’t: “coherent quantum processes may well be ubiquitous in the natural world.” Some examples range from photosynthesis to the ability of birds to navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field. Researchers are hoping to learn from the quantum proficiency of these biological systems in order to achieve the elusive goal of quantum computation. Gregory Scholes is currently researching quantum coherence in photosynthetic cryptophyte algae. He hopes to show that quantum coherence is not adaptive, but is simply “a by-product of the sense packing of chromophores required to optimize solar absorption.” Scholes hopes to investigate the issue by comparing antenna proteins isolated from species of cryptophytes algae that evolved at different times. A better understanding of how biological systems achieve quantum coherence in ambient conditions will “change the way we think about design of light-harvesting structures.”
Chemistry won 35% of federal funding granted to seven U of T researchers!
Andrei Yudin and Molly Shoichet of the Chemistry Department are two out of seven U of T researchers who have won a total of $3.2 million in grants from the collaborative health research projects program (CHRP). Andrei Yudin won $432,000 for “specific and cell-permeable molecular probes of calpain function” and Molly Shoichet won $688,260 for “bioengineered cell delivery system”
Protecting the Food Supply - Myrna Simspson works on Carbon Sequestration with the federal government
Scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) are concerned about the negative effects global warming will have on carbon sequestration in our soils. They have enlisted Myrna Simpson, professor of environmental chemistry and co-founder of the Environmental Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) centre, to help them figure out how to make more carbon stay put. NMR is the most powerful tool available for identifying the composition of matter, and the Environmental NMR Centre at UTSc is the only facility in Canada dedicated to the development and application of NMR techniques for environmental studies. Through this study scientists are attempting to understand “how carbon is transformed in the soil under different environmental conditions. With this information, we can then figure out how we might be able to add carbon residues to our soils to help combat the effects of rising temperatures.” The Environmental NMR Centre at UTSc is the only facility in Canada with the ability to perform high resolution analyses on the soil samples.
For the full story please visit: http://www.research.utoronto.ca/edge/spring2011/4.html#3
Greg Scholes awarded Sackler Prize by Tel Aviv University
Every two years the prizes which recognize dedication to sciences, originality and excellence by outstanding young scientists up to 45 years of age, are awarded by Tel Aviv University. The research field for 2011 is “molecular dymanics of chemical reactions.” Greg Scholes, was awarded one of the two 2011 Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prizes in Physical Sciences. “Congratulations to Greg on this richly deserved honour and recognition,” said Professor Paul Young, vice-president (research). “This important prize reaffirms what we have known for years - that Greg Scholes is a global leader in this vital field. We are very fortunate to have him at U of T and in Canada.”
Scott Tanner & DVS Sciences in the news
DVS Science Inc. has been getting a lot of press lately due to a newly developed technology called mass cytometry. This technology applies the analytical advantages of atomic mass spectrometry to biological cell analysis and boosts the number of single-cell parameters that can be measured simultaneously. Using this tool, Scott Tanner and his team of researchers are now able to look at the mechanisms underlying cancer and other diseases. Researchers at U of T, Columbia and Stanford Universities are using mass cytometry to develop a way to “measure the action and function of candidate prescription drugs on human cells, including the response of individual cells, more quickly and on a larger scale than ever before.” This tool has the potential to transform the understanding of a variety of diseases and biological actions, and will provide a better tool to understand how a healthy cell becomes diseased. A recent perspective article in Science called mass cytometry a “game changer that is poised to revolutionize our studies of disorders of the human immune system.” Another article in the May 16 issue of CE&N magazine stated that mass cytometry will be a “keystone to future diagnostic and drug discovery efforts.”
For more info:
Science Rendezvous 2011 – The Science of Awesome
The main attraction at the Science Rendezvous festival held recently at the University of Toronto was a simulated nuclear fusion reaction – half art installation and half science experiment. The annual nation-wide event aims to make science more accessible. Visitors at the all day street fest learned about how to blow up fruit using dry ice, how clouds are formed, and how to make soda and liquid nitrogen ice cream. “Chemistry is a scary area for a lot of people,” said Jessica Sonnenberg, a chemistry student part of the organizing team. The events show “how cool science is, and how much fun it can be” http://www.chemistry2011.ca
Fighting Fire with Electricity? It can happen
Ludovico Cademartiri, a Harvard researcher formerly of the Ozin group here at U of T, unveiled a study in which he put out an 18 inch flame with nothing but a wand powered by a 600 watt amplifier – about the amount needed to power a home stereo system.
Scientists have known for about 200 years that electric fields can interact with flames, but most experiments use direct current (DC), not alternating current. Cademartiri told the Houston Chronicle it’s too early to tell how an electric current could affect a larger flame. But he said he’s optimistic about the potential.
Four rising stars talk chemistry in 140 characters
Greg Scholes & Molly Shoichet, along with two other chemists are featured on a chemistry roundtable discussion in the National Research Council’s Dimensions. All four are recipients of the prestigious Steacie Memorial Fellowship for young researchers and have been recognized for their original ideas and achievements.
Lawrence Heights to be renamed John Polanyi Collegiate Institute
After a community consultation and a school-wide vote, the TDSB approved a name change for the school, which coincides with a move to a new location.
The John Polanyi Collegiate Institute will open its doors at its new location, 604 Lawrence Avenue West in September 2011.
The decision was made unanimously by trustees on the Toronto District School Board on December 15th 2010. Polanyi described his reaction to the decision as “Delighted and amazed, in equal measure”
Molly Shoichet featured in newly released video from CFI
The video was released to mark the centennial of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2011.
Shana Kelley & Aaron Wheeler In the News
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CHIR) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) have partnered up to support research and innovations that have application for health care on earth and in space and provide real benefits for Canadians. Three U of T researchers received at total of $5,487,662 in funding from CHIR & CSA. Professor Shana Kelley is one of three U of T researchers who received funding from this partnership. Aaron Wheeler is one of her four co-PIs. Shana’s team is using nanotextured microstructures to develop a diagnostic device that detects low levels of prostate cancer cells circulating in blood. This could lead to routine screening for prostate cancer, helping to diagnose the disease earlier and to distinguish aggressive forms of the disease from non-aggressive.
Gilbert Walker and the BiopSys team in the News!
Gilbert Walker and the BiopSys team, recently featured in U of T Magazine, are developing a new technique known as “bioplasmonics.” This technique uses the interaction between light and metal, which produces an electric field that can then be controlled and manipulated to detect specific molecules on the surfaces of cells. Using bioplasmonics, it is possible to detect lung & leukemia cancers much earlier, potentially saving thousands of lives. The BiopSys team has already developed bioplasmonics to the point where it produces a more sensitive measurement than in any existing commercial technology says Walker. However, this is only in a lab setting. As this technology develops, the hope is that it will get translated to end users – the companies that manufacture the devices, and doctors that will use them to detect cancers much earlier.
Research partnerships at core of major new NSERC funding – Two awarded to Chemistry!
The University was recently awarded eleven projects from NSERC’s Strategic Projects Grants program totalling $4,863,439. This funding program emphasizes university collaboration with industry and government. Of the 11 funded projects, Chemistry received two!
Douglas Stephan collaborating with Laxness Deutschland GbMH, Nova Chemicals Corporation was awarded a $435,000 grant for the chemistry of greenhouse gasses: capture and use of CO2 and N2O by frustrated lewis pairs, and
Mitchell Winnik (PI) and Mark Nitz (co-PI) collaborating with DVS Sciences Inc. received a $391,800 NSERC grant for ultrasensitive multiplexed mass cytometry immunoassays based on single patch nanoparticles.
DVS Sciences Inc. in the News
DVS Sciences Inc. has been mentioned in Science Magazine (January 7th, 2011, Vol. 331) regarding a new instrument the company developed here in Canada for detecting proteins in single cells. This instrument allows researchers to increase the number of proteins they are able to monitor from 15 to approximately 100.
Building Bridges Between Academia and Industry
A number of chemistry faculty and students participated in the Institute for Optical Sciences’ Emerging Technology Forum on November 26, including Cynthia Goh, Greg Scholes and Gilbert Walker. The forum encouraged faculty and students to network with industry representatives. Cynthia Goh, Director of IOS, explained to the UofT Bulletin that “by making the connection to companies that actually know what we’re facing in the market, we can do some problem solving and our knowledge can be applied and we can find out what companies need.” Walker, who gave a presentation on opportunities in nanotechnology spoke about the need for the forum, “In my own lab I have two graduate students and one postdoc who are interested in translating their research into a commercial technology and so with a group like this, it helps me to figure it out.”
Aaron Wheeler In The News
The Minister of Industry, Tony Clement, was in Toronto on November 24 to help celebrate the Canada Research Chairs 10th Anniversary event. The Minister spoke about the successful CRC program and the innovative research currently performed in Canada. During his speech he acknowledged only three stellar researchers, one of whom was Aaron Wheeler. The Minister applauded Wheeler's "lab-on-a-chip" research saying "[it] would allow for new drugs to be analyzed more efficiently and quickly thus speeding up the progress of getting new medications to market."
Scott Mabury and Jessica D’Eon: In The News
UofT News and Metro newspaper have highlighted ongoing research by Scott Mabury and Jessica D'eon: The wrapping used to line microwave popcorn bags and other junk food is leaving dangerous chemicals inside of some foods. These PFCAs have been discovered in humans and have been worrying scientists for years. Mabury explains, "chemicals called PAPs move into food, make it into humans upon ingestion and metabolically are transformed into the PFCAs".
Congratulations Doug Stephan!
Doug Stephan has been appointed to the position of Associate Editor for Chemical Society Reviews beginning January 1, 2011. Doug will be covering inorganic and organometallic chemistry, including main group and transition metal chemistry, organometallic reactivity and catalysis, ligand design, applications of catalysis in organic chemistry, materials and polymer synthesis.
Congratulations Shana Kelley!
The Health Technology Exchange reported that Xagenic, a spin-off company created by Shana Kelley (cross appointed with Pharmacy), received funding to develop a rapid, point-of-care device for disease diagnosis.
Scott Tanner & DVS Sciences Inc. featured in three Articles
The Health Technology Exchange profiled both Scott Tanner and DVS Sciences Inc. and their work with mass cytometry.
Science magazine ran a feature article on recent advances in flow cytometry technologies, citing DVS Sciences’ mass cytometer “CyTOF” as a solution to the limitations of traditional flow cytometers.
Yudin's Group in Bachem PEPTalk
Bachem PEPTalk profiled the Yudin Group whose research efforts are aimed at the design and chemical synthesis of bioactive molecules. The profile highlights new developments in synthetic methodologies.
Go Canadian Chemistry Olympiad Team!
The Canadian Chemistry Olympiad Team (led by Stan Skonieczny) was featured in the Society News section of the November/December issue of Canadian Chemical News. The team won three silver medals and an honourable mention during the nine day event in Tokyo, Japan.
Mark Lautens and Andrei Yudin are featured in the current issue of Aldrich ChemFiles (Vol.10,No.1)
The Lautens’ group developed a powerful catalytic asymmetric ring opening reaction enabling the production of highly functionalized hydronaphthalene scaffolds in enantioenriched form.
Yudin and his group recently reported the use of amphoteric reagents that enable rapid and waste-free synthesis of complex bioactive molecules.
Jennifer Murphy and Aaron Wheeler profiled in the 2010 Faculty of Arts and Science Year in Review magazine
Jennifer Murphy describes her research on pollution in Toronto, "Despite clean air strategies…Toronto is still a polluted soup of chemicals." Jennifer's research also reveals more attention needs to be paid to other factors contributing to the city’s smog – paints, solvents and lawnmowers.
Aaron Wheeler says about his new lab-on-a-chip, "The new methods we've developed may someday facilitate screening of clinical samples for analysis of hormones...screening for risk of developing breast cancer. It could also help with monitoring hormone levels in infertility treatments and detecting illegal doping in athletes."
Congratulations Alex Harrison!
Alex Harrison is one of the top 54 contributors to the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (JASMS) from 1990 to 2009. He appeared on the cover of the December 2009, Vol. 20, No. 12S issue.
Dwayne Miller: It cuts like a knife
Dwayne Miller is the co-principal investigator of a team of researchers that has developed a novel laser technique using the Picosecond IR laser that could significantly reduce scarring after surgery and allow wounds to heal faster. Their findings have been published in the September 28 issue of PLoS ONE.
Read the full story here
Patrick Gunning is making molecules - and headlines
Recently awarded with an Early Researcher Award (ERA), Patrick Gunning is further exploring innovative cancer treatments in his project: "Developing Novel Uba1 Molecular Therapeutics: Suppressing the Side-Effects of Aggressive Chemotherapy."
An interview with Gunning was published in this week’s UofT Bulletin, “… my molecular efforts have focused on targeting the aberrant activation of specific proteins that directly contribute to cancer progression." Gunning's study is primarily concerned with inhibiting the Ubiquitin E1 activating enzyme (Uba1), which has proven to be successful in killing cancer cells, leaving normal cells unharmed, and in helping to delay tumor growth in leukemia studies.
To read the full story - click here.
Geoff Ozin charges ahead in Nature Photonics
Geoff Ozin worked with a team of researchers from Canada and Japan to produce the first ever solar cell containing an integrated 3D silicon photonic crystal (an inverse opal structure). The team has recently published their findings in Appl. Phys. Lett. 96, 242102 (2010).
Nature Photonics reports that the cell traps light and prolongs the lifetime of charge carriers, thus reducing leakage current and improving the cell’s fill factor. Ozin explains “[these] cleverly designed silicon inverse opal components could reduce electron-hole radiative recombination and enhance absorption processes.
Read the full story here.
Dwight Seferos and group in Nature Chemistry!
The Seferos group's research on selenophene-thiophene block copolymers is highlighted in Nature Chemistry.
"Conjugated polymers such as polyacetylene and polythiophenes have useful electronic and optical properties and the potential for widespread use in many devices. Now, Dwight Seferos and colleagues have made conjugated copolymers from blocks of different heterocycles that phase separate. The two heterocycles are similarly-functionalized thiophene and selenophene, both of which form conjugated polymers on their own. The team made a controlled block copolymer of the two and, for comparison, a statistical - or random — copolymer as well as the two homopolymers."
The full article is available here.
Geoff Ozin is the inaugural Guest Editor!
Geoff Ozin has been chosen as the inaugural Guest Editor in the Materials Views column, dubbed NanoChannel, for the elite Wiley journals Advanced Materials, Advanced Functional Materials and Small. He will be writing regular articles articles about hot-button issues.
Geoff Ozin writes, “It is a nagging question that has been asked before in other areas of chemistry when the rate of production of molecules or materials reaches what is perceived as a saturation point in the supply chain. I think this is a question on most of our minds these days as we try to wrestle which way to go scientifically and technologically with the exponentially growing bank of nanomaterials and ponder the gigantic efforts and funding levels devoted to the discovery and utilization of these nanomaterials in diverse areas of nanotechnology.”
The rest of the article is available here.
Rob Batey was featured in the August 24th issue
of the U of T Bulletin
For the first time at U of T undergraduate students will be offered a course in Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll. “If you think about it, organic chemistry is a pretty dry title. I wanted to jazz it up a bit, make it a bit more fun,” explained Professor Robert Batey, associate chair of undergraduate studies in chemistry. The course aims to introduce the concepts of science to non-science students through organic chemistry. “I think organic chemistry is a really important area for everyday life. It impacts everything we do, from household products, flavours and fragrances to sex — things like contraception and pheromones,” said Batey.
Eugenia Kumacheva in C&E News: Achieving Nanopolymer Self-Assembly
Eugenia Kumacheva was recently featured in the July 12th issue of C&E News for her work on a new process for nanoparticle self-assembly.
By coating gold nanorods and their arrowhead tips, the rods consistently formed themselves into “nanopolymers” similar in effect to molecular polymerization reactions. These findings have practical use in a variety of applications, including optoelectronics.
Read the full story here.
André Arsenault and Opalux on C&E
André Arsenault and Opalux were featured in the July 12th issue of C&E News in an article about colourizing e-readers. Currently, electronic books are black and white, relying on electrical charges to form the text. It is believed that Arsenault’s work on multichromatic polymers could be the next step for e-readers.
“The Toronto-Based start-up Opalux has been developing a technology based on polymers that mimic the diffraction properties of gemstone opals,” the article said, adding that the technology is currently used to combat counterfeiting.
Read the full story here: http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/88/8828cover4.html.
Neil Coombs in CBC News!
Neil Coombs was mentioned in a CBC News story for his part in confirming a new synthetic diamond whose porous properties are ideal for filtration. The diamonds, created by former Ozin Group Member Kai Landskron, are full of microscopic holes, but retain their mechanical stability. According to the story, “Landskron sent the diamonds to be analyzed by Neil Coombs, director of the Centre for Nanostructure Imaging at the University of Toronto...viewing the diamonds under an electron microscope and analyzing them with related instruments revealed they were made up of interconnected nanocrystals.” Read the full story here: http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2010/07/19/porous-diamonds.html
Jumi Shin is one of seven U of T scientists sharing a total of $3.2 million as part of the 31 Collaborative Health Research Projects (CHRP) grants announced recently by the Government of Canada. “This program brings together the expertise of researchers in natural sciences and engineering with medical researchers to find innovative solutions in key areas of health,” said Suzanne Fortier, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada. Jumi will develop a novel platform for cancer drug discovery using minimalist hybrid proteins.
Full article is available here.
Greg Scholes in UofT Magazine!
In the latest issue of UofT Magazine, Greg Scholes was named by University President David Naylor as being an innovator whose research was helping the university take the lead on sustainability.
"A number of scientists are helping position the University of Toronto - and Canada - as a world leader in solar energy research," Naylor said. "Greg Scholes, in the department of chemistry, is studying photosynthesis – the process by which plants and algae convert sunlight to energy – to understand how solar cells can be made more efficient."
Simplifying Peptide Synthesis
Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News recently featured Andrei Yudin and his work on peptide synthesis.
Peptides are especially valuable to the biotech industry, but synthesizing them is not easy. However, Yudin's "Ugi Reaction" can be used to create peptides in a workable timeframe.
"The resulting molecules possess useful structural features that allow specific modifications...this operationally simple method should find utility in many areas." Yudin said. Read the full story here.
Robert Morris Appointed Chair of Chemistry!
We are pleased to announce that Professor Robert Morris has been appointed Chair of the Department of Chemistry for a three-year term beginning July 1, 2010 and ending June 30, 2013. Congratulations Bob!
Congratulations Patrick Gunning!
Patrick Gunning was recently profiled by the University of Toronto’s Research and Innovation department as a Featured Researcher, where he was highlighted for his work on protein and cell interactions.
Gunning designs molecular reaction agents for the treatment of cancers, such as leukemia, multiple myeloma, and especially brain cancer – an area which currently has limited treatment options due to the fragility of the area. "The thrust of my work is trying to find therapeutics that target protein interactions, which are typically under-investigated," he noted.
The article, which also detailed Gunning's love of art and architecture, called the practical applications of his research "formidable."
In Memoriam: Professor Emeriti Alexander Jerry Kresge
It is with great sadness that we announce that Jerry Kresge passed away on June 6th, 2010. Professor A. Jerry Kresge was one of the most eminent practitioners in the field of Physical Organic Chemistry. He was born in the United States in 1926 and received his undergraduate education at Cornell University. He obtained a PhD at the University of Illinois under the guidance of Nelson Leonard. After postdoctoral work at University College, London with C.K. Ingold and E.D. Hughes, at Purdue with H. C. Brown and at M.I.T. with C.G. Swain, he joined Brookhaven National Laboratory as an Associate Chemist and then the Illinois Institute of Technology. In 1974 he accepted the position of Full Professor at the University of Toronto, Chemistry Department, and was based at Scarborough College. He conducted outstanding research on the mechanisms of organic reactions that now appear in textbooks. With his wife Yvonne Chiang (already deceased), he published leading work on the chemistry of short-lived intermediates and of enols and enolates. He retired in 1992 but continued to work in his lab in the Lash Miller building until 2007.
Professor Kresge's accomplishments were recognized by a number of honors. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada. He held Eli Lilly, Guggenheim, Killam, Yamada, and NSF Senior Fellowships, and he received the Syntex Award, the Morley Medal and the prestigious Ingold Lecture Award.
Kresge was named Visiting Professor at several Universities and gave many named lectures. He served as Vice Chairman of the Gordon Conference on the Chemistry and Physics of Isotopes and on the Editorial Advisory Boards of Isotopes in Organic Chemistry and the Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry. A special issue of the Canadian Journal of Chemistry was dedicated to him in 1999.
Jerry is survived by his daughters Nell, Nicole and son Peter.
Ask a Laureate featured in UT Bulletin
The first-annual Ask a Laureate event was recently featured in UofT's Bulletin. The event, which brought 300 Ontario secondary students to the campus for a day of lectures and demonstrations by the department's top chemists, was considered by everyone to be a great success!
Students were impressed by the 'cool' presentations, and Interim Chair Bob Morris remarked that the event was a great introduction to the university's chemistry program. "What makes this event special is that it introduces high school students to university," he said. "Students get to meet the people doing the science they read about in their textbooks and they get to see that they can be a part of that research too."Read the full story here.
Congratulations Scott Tanner!
Scott Tanner was one of the UoT researchers to win funding from the province as part of their GL2 program which supports research and innovation.
Last year, Tanner unveiled a first-in-class cell analysis instrument capable of determining up to 100 biomarkers in individuals cells. Using this technology, Tanner is now creating products that make it possible for doctors to diagnose disease and monitor treatments more effectively than ever before.
The full story can be read at, http://www.news.utoronto.ca/lead-stories/u-of-t-receives-248m-for-genomics-research.html
Congratulations Jesse Greener!
Dr. Jesse Greener, of the Kumacheva group, was featured in the May issue of University Affairs. He talked about the value of fellowships, especially in regards to a proposed government program which would see funding for more fellowship programs.
"We feel [the new program] should raise the bar with respect to monetary compensation for other post-doctoral positions." Greener said.
Read the full article here.
Kagan Kerman's Prescription for Hope
Professor Kerman, whose research focuses on neurodegenerative diseases and HIV/AIDS, discussed how his research affects lives both in and out of the classroom in UTSC's Moving Ahead.
"I like to combine my research topics with what I teach at the undergraduate and graduate levels," he said. "Our biggest dream is the discovery of compounds that will put an end to devastating diseases."
Read the full article here: http://webapps.utsc.utoronto.ca/ose/story.php?id=2119
Doug Stephan in UofT's EDGE
Doug Stephan was featured in the UofT EDGE where he talked about new developments in hydrogenation which reduce the need for toxic metals. "Our new theme has to be developing methods of production that give society what it wants, but in a much cleaner fashion," he said.
Greg Scholes in UofT's EDGE
Greg Scholes talked about solar energy in a recent issue of the UofT EDGE. He compared the photosynthesis process of plants to advancements in organic solar cell technology. "Plants and algae have been doing this for 3.5 billion years…they are more sophisticated than anything we could possibly hope to make." he said.
Doug Stephan is appointed to the Editorial Board of the ChemSocRev
Doug Stephan has been appointed to the Editorial Board of the ChemSocRev, a leading chemistry review journal which is rated as one of the higher impact journals worldwide. As a member of the editorial board, Professor Stephan will help commission, coordinate and review articles. He will also assist the Royal Society of Chemistry staff in acquiring the highest quality articles for publication.
Dual Benefits for Big Rings Organic Synthesis: Bifunctional reagent adds to the tool kit for making macrocycles
Andrei Yudin, Ryan Hili and Vishal Rai have been will be featured in the March 1st issue of Chemical and Engineering News. "A bifunctional building block packs a one-two punch for making the ring-shaped molecules known as macrocycles, chemists at the University of Toronto have found. Macrocycles have desirable properties and potential as nanomaterials, imaging agents, and drugs. When making macrocycles, dilute conditions are the norm because they prevent competing reactions, but they also cause reactions to run slowly, among other disadvantages. In contrast, Ryan Hili, Vishal Rai, and Andrei K. Yudin's new macrocyclization works at unusually high concentrations."
The rest of the story is available at, http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/88/i09/8809news5.html.
Scott Mabury and Derek Muir's research on fluorochemicals were included in C&EN's cover story "Flurochemicals Go Short"
"Mabury and coworkers studied the physical properties of PFOA, FTOHs, and related compounds independently of available chemical company data and showed that the compounds can be found in the atmosphere and in indoor air. Mabury's group, in collaboration with Derek C. G. Muir of Environment Canada, also conducted monitoring studies to show that PFCAs with chain lengths up to C15 are in the Great Lakes and in the water and snow across remote regions of the Canadian Arctic".
The full article is available at, http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/88/8805cover.html
Congratulations Tanner and Baranov!
Manning Award Laureates, Scott Tanner and Victor Baranov, were mentioned in an article about past Manning Awards recipients. The Manning Awards recognize Canadian innovators who "have changed the way Canada competes, manufactures, communicates and cares for each other."
The full article is available here.
Aaron Wheeler and his work on microfluidics were profiled in a recent issue of The Scientist
"Wheeler has used his expertise in microfluidics to explore applications far beyond the separation and chemical analysis of droplets on tiny chips. At his University of Toronto laboratory, Wheeler and his team have used mazes made from miniscule channels to probe the learning capabilities of C. elegans and measured hormone levels from just a microliter of breast tissue."
The full story is available at, http://www.the-scientist.com/2010/2/1/48/1/
Scientists find quantum mechanics at work in photosynthesis: Algae familiar with these processes for nearly two billion years
"There's been a lot of excitement and speculation that nature may be using quantum mechanical practices," said chemistry professor Greg Scholes, lead author of a new study published this week in Nature.
"Our latest experiments show that normally functioning biological systems have the capacity to use quantum mechanics in order to optimize a process as essential to their survival as photosynthesis."
The findings are presented in a paper titled Coherently wired light-harvesting in photosynthetic marine algae at ambient temperature, published Feb. 4 in Nature. Scholes' colleagues in the research at the University of Toronto include Elisabetta Collini, Cathy Wong and Paul Brumer. Other team members include Paul Curmi and Krystyna Wilk of the University of New South Wales. The research was funded with support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, in part by a Steacie Fellowship awarded to Scholes.
The rest of the story is available here.
Tainted trinkets are no surprise, professor says
US Wal-Mart stores remove children's jewellery in their stores after the Associated Press found cadmium was being used. Dr. David Stone's response was printed in Saturday's Toronto Star.
"It is hardly surprising that cadmium has been found in children's trinkets in the U.S. The analytical laboratory at the University of Toronto's chemistry department has analyzed many such items over the past five years on behalf of a number of organizations. Of those, many contained high quantities of lead and significant amounts of cadmium (which is far more toxic than lead), as cadmium can occur naturally in lead ore."
You can read the rest of the article here.
The original article is here.
My Favourite Professor!
A student who graduated in 2005 recently wrote to the UofT Magazine about her experience in Scott Browning's first year course.
"When I was a first-year student in 2001, Prof. Scott Browning’s boyish charm and nerdy jokes compelled some of us to fight for front-row seats in organic chemistry class. Don’t get me wrong; Prof. Browning was a fantastic teacher who explained concepts clearly. But some of us were enamoured - one classmate even asked for his autograph on a periodic table."
Congratulations Geoff and Ludovico!
Advanced Materials has compiled a special reprint issue, The Best of Advanced Materials, which contains a selection of their most advanced recently published articles in Advanced Materials. Geoff Ozin + Ludovico Cademartiri's recent paper, Ultrathin Nanowires: A Materials Chemistry Perspective was selected as one of the twelve papers to appear in this special issue. Further information is available at, http://tinyurl.com/ychtenk.
Congratulations André Simpson!
Chemistry professor André Simpson of the department of physical and environmental sciences recently founded the Outstanding High School Student Science Awards Program, which recognizes outstanding high school students in the sciences.
Full story available at, https://webapps.utsc.utoronto.ca/ose/story.php?id=1841§id=1
Scientists at the University of Toronto have developed a new "lab-on-a-chip" technique that analyses tiny samples of blood and breast tissue to identify women at risk of breast cancer much more quickly than ever before.
"The new methods we've developed may someday facilitate routine screening of clinical samples for analysis of hormones. This may be useful in many applications, including screening for risk of developing breast cancer, especially in high-risk populations, and monitoring the response to antiestrogen breast cancer therapies such as aromatase inhibitors. It could also help in monitoring hormone levels in infertility treatments and in detecting illegal doping in athletes," added Wheeler.
The principal investigators on the project are Aaron Wheeler, Department of Chemistry, and Robert F. Casper, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine. The lead authors of the paper are Dr. Noha Mousa, a PhD candidate in medicine, and Mais Jebrail, a PhD candidate in chemistry.
The full story is available at, http://www.news.utoronto.ca/health-and-medicine/u-of-t-researchers-use-microfluidics-to-create-labonachip.html#more. Aaron was on Global TV on October 7. If you missed his interview you can view the story at, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04l1Wr1VwNs.
Chemical & Engineering News has posted an additional piece on the technique at, http://pubs.acs.org/isubscribe/journals/cen/87/i41/html/8741scic3.html.
Eugenia Kumacheva has been selected by the Royal Society of Canada to promote the Women in Science, Engineering and Technology program. This opportunity is offered to outstanding researchers and communicators who can present their research to a range of audiences. Eugenia will travel to Japan to give research lectures with the goal to raise awareness of women in the natural, applied and health/medical sciences.
Full article available at, http://www.artsci.utoronto.ca/main/eugenia-kumacheva-women-in-science.
Shana Kelley in Toronto Star: Microchip spots cancer quickly and painlessly
Shana Kelley and Ted Sargent appear in today’s Toronto Star about the portable device they say will accurately diagnose prostate cancer in 30 minutes.
"The microchip technology, created by a pair of University of Toronto scientists, will be able to determine the severity of the tumours through a simple urine sample and produce quick diagnosis with no need for painful biopsies."
"The goal would be to produce a result ... while you're sitting in the waiting room," said engineering professor Ted Sargent..."
"We simply put a sample on the chip and we have a nice small chip reader that then analyses it and tells you what markers are in the sample," said Shana Kelley..."
Full article available at, http://www.healthzone.ca/health/newsfeatures/article/701917.
Patrick Gunning was interviewed recently by the Varsity and the article appears in the September 24th issue
"STAT3 (Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3), a protein present in cancer cells, causes drug therapy resistance when it pairs up with another copy of itself. Gunning and his team have developed a way to break apart this cancer protein pair, to possibly increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy. His research team has successfully developed inhibitor molecules that work to stop STAT3 protein activity."
Full article available at, http://www.thevarsity.ca/articles/20384.
Jennifer Murphy was interviewed recently by the Varsity and the article appears in the September 21st issue
"But smog is not a thing of the past: a new study in the July issue of Atmospheric Environment confirms that come May, it will all be back. Professor Jennifer Murphy, Canada Research chair in atmospheric and environmental chemistry, and graduate student Jeff Geddes have found that the last decade has seen no overall smog reduction in the GTA, despite programs enacted by municipal and federal governments."
Full article available at, http://www.thevarsity.ca/articles/20196.
Walker In The News: Minister of State Announces New Networks Part of NSERC's Strategic Network Grants Program-Congratulations Gilbert
Gary Goodyear, Canada's minister of state for science and technology, announced the creation of nine new networks as part of the NSERC's Strategic Network Grants program. Gilbert Walker is leading the Network for Bioplasmonic Systems (BiopSys) which aims to speed up cancer diagnosis by incorporating an emerging technology known as plasmonics into existing procedures that use cancer markers found on the surfaces of cells. Plasmonics--a technique that produces waves of electrons when light hits a metal surface--offers significant opportunities for increasing the types of cancer markers that can be identified simultaneously.
The complete article is available here.
Interview with Scott Mabury
Scott Mabury was recently interviewed by the editors for The Sceptical Chymist. The Sceptical Chymist is a blog by the editors of Nature and the Research journals - and a forum for our readers, authors and the entire chemical community. The interview is posted here.
Geoff Ozin's Nanoscience Expertise
Nanoscience Pioneer Celebrates New Book Launch "Toronto professor Geoff Ozin, one of the pioneers of what has now become nanoscience and technology, celebrated at the weekend the launch of his new book, Concepts in Nanochemistry." The Wiley-VCH BBQ, attended by many of the books and journals editors responsible for reviewing, editing and producing the book, was held in Birkenau, an idyllic little village in the rolling hills on the edge of the Black Forrest in sunny Southern Germany. Full article can be found at here.
Greg Scholes: His views in Quantum states
Greg Scholes work on how nature takes advantage of the superposition of quantum states to optimize energy transfer in photosynthesis was picked up in the News Scan section of Scientific American September 2009 issue, page 17.
Cell Biomarkers and Olympic gymnastics
Interview with Scott Tanner on measuring cell biomarkers and Olympic gymnastics Scott Tanner was recently interviewed by Ben Merison of the Royal Society of Chemistry. The interview is published in Highlights Chem. Technol., 2009, 6, T65–T72.
We should ban plastic bags?
Banning plastic bags - does it make a difference? U of T Professor Douglas Stephan of Chemistry weighs in
Since Toronto recently enacted a new bylaw whereby retailers are required to charge customers for plastic bags, the question has arisen. "How bad are plastic bags anyway?" To answer that question Jenny Hall of UoT Research Communications recently spoke to Doug Stephan. The interview is available at, http://www.research.utoronto.ca/behind_the_headlines/banning-plastic-bags%E2%80%94does-it-make-a-difference/.
UofT known to be the Best for Cited Research Papers
"The University of Toronto is among the world's best universities for citations for its research, says ScienceWatch.com, an organization that tracks and analyses basic research impact at institutions around the world. In its rankings, ScienceWatch.com found that U of T had a total of 55,163 papers cited a total of 861,243 times - an average of 15.61 citations per paper - over the last 10 years. It specifically mentions UofT scientists Frances Shepherd, Charles Boone and Geoffrey Ozin as researchers with highly cited papers and features them on its site."
Full article available at, http://www.news.utoronto.ca/campus-news/u-of-t-among-worlds-best-for-cited-research-papers.html.
Chemistry department has formula for Olympiad success!
"Andy Dicks escorted a successful Team Canada back from the International Chemistry Olympiad in Cambridge, U.K."
Full article is available at, http://www.news.utoronto.ca/lead-stories/chemistry-department-has-formula-for-olympiad-success.html.
Aaron Wheeler's views of "chemistry and life"
Aaron Wheeler was interviewed recently about his views on 'chemistry and life'.
The interview has been posted on a blog at the Nature website, http://blogs.nature.com/thescepticalchymist/2009/07/reactions_aaron_wheeler.html. A fun read!
Chemistry of Love
"A good love story is hard to come by in chemistry, so when one does come along, it's worth noting." The Stephan group discovered that nitrous oxide (laughing gas) reacts with his famous 'frustrated' Lewis acid-base pairs to give a stable compound of unexpected structure. The full article is available in J. Am. Chem. Soc. DOI and was described briefly in an article "Frustrated Couple Settles for Gases" in the July 13th issue of C+E News. There is another similar article in Nature Chemistry posted at, http://www.nature.com/nchem/reshigh/2009/0709/full/nchem.324.html.
Shana Kelley on the VARSITY
Shana Kelley is featured in the July 6, 2009 issue of the Varsity. "The Kelley lab is developing nanotechnology that could diagnose early stage cancer and other infectious diseases ten times earlier and at a fraction of the cost than is current clinical practice. Their project consists of an electronic chip the size of a dime containing complementary genetic material, or the appropriate antibodies, that could generate an electronic readout to inform doctors of a patients immediate health." Full story can be found at, http://www.thevarsity.ca/article/19434.
Distillations 2007-2008 Magazine
The 2006 Distillations was a great success! We are excited to release the new 2007-2008 Distillations, and it is available to download here.
CONGRATULATIONS AND THANK YOU SCOTT MABURY
The department celebrated Scott Mabury's promotion from Chair of Chemistry to Vice-Provost Academic Operations on June 29th. Thank you Scott for your outstanding contributions to the department as Chair over the past six years and we wish you success in your new portfolio.
Distillations 2006 Magazine
We are pleased to announce that the 2006 edition of Distillations, Chemistry's alumni magazine, is now available online.
Be sure to check out our Distillations section for all the Magazines!