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Beckman Scholars




VU Beckman Scholar: Joshua Eggold

B.A., Molecular and Cellular Biology (anticipated), 2015, Vanderbilt University Born and raised in Grafton, Wisconsin, Joshua began his studies at Vanderbilt University as an undergraduate in 2011. In the fall of 2012, he began his undergraduate research experience under the direction of Dr. Ellen Fanning, investigating the interaction between simian virus 40 and the mammalian DNA damage response. He continued this research as a Beckman Scholar, examining the recruitment of host proteins to replicating viral chromatin. When Prof. Fanning passed away in Fall 2013, Joshua transitioned to the lab of VU BSP mentor Walter Chazin to continue his research. Aside from spending time in the research lab, Joshua enjoys playing the clarinet in the Vanderbilt University Spirit of Gold marching band.


VU Beckman Scholar Mentor: Ellen Fanning, Professor of Biological Sciences (Deceased)

Dr. Fanning studied chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and began research there in biochemistry and genetics with Dr. Oliver Smithies. She continued research on protein-DNA interactions with Dr. Benno Mueller-Hill and Dr. Walter Doerfler at the University of Cologne, where she earned an undergraduate Diplom and doctorate. She joined the molecular genetics group at the University of Konstanz with the goal of determining how proteins separate parental DNA strands and coordinately replicate the two strands in human cells and how the process is regulated. As the model system for these studies, she began utilizing a DNA tumor virus mini-chromosome and human cell extracts. In 1981 she was recruited to the Institute for Biochemistry at the University of Munich as a tenured professor, and 1995 to Vanderbilt University as a Stevenson Professor. The Fanning Lab continues to use the viral model system to study the structure and function of human DNA replication proteins, with the long term goal of understanding the interplay between DNA replication and repair pathways to maintain genomic integrity and of uncovering the strategies used by viruses to manipulate these pathways for their own propagation. The Fanning Lab has been the research home of many undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral researchers from around the globe, and enjoys research collaborations with colleagues.


VU Beckman Scholar: Laura Mast

Laura Mast, a junior at Vanderbilt University, was selected to be a Beckman Scholar in March 2013. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry with a minor in Environmental Studies and plans to attend graduate school. Passionate about environmental research, Laura began doing research at the Great Lakes WATER Institute in the summer of 2012 under Dr. Tim Grundl (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Geosciences) on urban agriculture, focusing on methods of analyzing heavy metal contamination in soils. She continued that project under Dr. John Ayers (Vanderbilt University, Earth and Environmental Science) the following semester. In the spring of 2013, Laura began working with Dr. Janet Macdonald (Vanderbilt University, Chemistry) on a nanochemistry project that seeks to achieve water solubility of nanoparticles. The synthesis of nanoparticles generally produces nanoparticles that are water insoluble, which makes them less efficient. This can be addressed using ligand exchange, but this does not always succeed for some nanoparticles. In that case, Grubb’s metathesis may be performed on native ligands that have carbon-carbon double bond to add polar groups to alter the hydrophobicity of the ligands. Over the course of Beckman Scholars Program, Laura will be experimenting with a variety of polar groups to add in metathesis, with other potential native ligands, and with other types of nanoparticles. Laura plans to attend graduate school to pursue her passion for environmental research. Additionally, she has served on the Vanderbilt Student Government Environmental Affairs Committee, served with the Vanderbilt Garden Initiative, worked in the Vanderbilt Greenhouse, and has done internships with local nonprofits focusing on environmental community issues. She has also served on the executive board of her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, and loves biking, traveling, and exploring new places.


VU Beckman Scholar Mentor: Janet Macdonald, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Dr. Macdonald received her BSc in chemistry from McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 2002 before beginning graduate studies at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Under the supervision of Dr. Jonathan Veinot, she studied mechanistic details of the synthesis of iron nanoparticles and how iron nanoparticles could be used to remediate trace catalytic metals from organic synthesis. She was granted a PhD in 2008 and then continued post-doctoral studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel in the laboratory of Professor Uri Banin where she synthesized hybrid nanoparticles for photocatalytic applications. Since joining the Vanderbilt faculty in the summer of 2011, she has been building a laboratory focusing on the synthesis of nanoparticles and nanostructured materials. As chemists, the Macdonald group is interested in the synthesis of nanoparticles in order to harness their large surface area for enhanced reactivity and size-dependent light absorption for solar energy applications. The Macdonald group re-explores long ignored materials as nanostructured materials, their size and shape dependent reactivity and uses their previously un-tapped potential as electrocatalysts with applications in solar cells and as photocatalysts.


VU Beckman Scholar: Jennifer Sun

Jennifer Sun began her education at Vanderbilt University in 2010 and pursues an anticipated B.A. in Chemistry in 2014. Her research with Dr. Walter Chazin's lab commenced in the fall of 2012. In the Chazin lab, she works with components of the Human Cardiac Sodium Channel (NaV1.5) that play a role in translation of intracellular calcium signals, specifically the Calmodulin protein and NaV1.5 s IQ motif peptide. Over the course of her tenure with the Beckman Scholars Program, she will utilize NMR Spectroscopy to structurally characterize Ca2+Calmodulin's interaction with the IQ motif. Certain known mutations that occur in the amino acid sequence constituting the IQ motif peptide are known to be involved in specific types of cardiac arrhythmias. Studying the Ca2+CaM-IQ complex in both the absence and presence of said IQ motif peptide mutations can contribute to better understanding of the molecular basis of such life-threatening arrhythmias. In addition to research and academia, Jennifer enjoys photography, graphic design, and illustration.


VU Beckman Scholar Mentor: Walter Chazin, Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry

Walter J. Chazin earned his B.Sc. in Chemistry from McGill University in 1975. Four years later began his Ph.D. thesis work with Laurance Colebrook at Concordia University in Montréal, where he was supported by NSERC, FQAQ and University graduate fellowships. He earned his Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry in 1983 and then traveled to Switzerland for postdoctoral studies in the lab of Kurt Wüthrich (2002 Nobel laureate in Chemistry) at the E.T.H. as a Province of Quebec postdoctoral fellow. In 1986 he moved to The Scripps Research Institute, where after a brief postdoctoral stint with Peter E. Wright, he was appointed to the faculty in the Department of Molecular Biology. After 13 years at Scripps, he was recruited to Vanderbilt as the Chancellor’s Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry and Physics, and to design and direct a new program in Structural Biology. He was appointed as a Professor in the Department of Chemistry in 2006. His research has been funded continually by NIGMS since 1988 and he has published ~165 peer reviewed papers and ~40 book chapters and reviews. His honors include American Cancer Society Junior Faculty and Faculty Research Awards, the Chancellor’s Award for Research and the Stanley Cohen Award at Vanderbilt, service as a National Academy of Science International Travel Fellow and as a NAS Teaching Fellow, and appointments as Regents Visiting Professor at the University of Naples in Italy, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the NIH College of Reviewers. Research in the Chazin laboratory focuses on answering fundamental questions in medicine and biology. We use a multi-technique approach to Structural Biology with an emphasis on NMR spectroscopy and collaborate extensive with colleagues at Vanderbilt and throughout the world. We have investigated the structural basis for the transduction of calcium signals by EF-hand proteins and activation of downstream target proteins in signaling cascades; current emphasis is on regulation of the function of human cardiac voltage-gated sodium channels. The lab has also extended this work to calprotectin, which is an integral factor in the innate immune response to the invasion of pathogenic organisms. An additional research program has been developed on understanding signaling through protein ubiquitination. A third major research effort involves the action of multi-domain proteins and multi-protein complexes as they function in DNA replication, damage response, and repair.

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