Volume 6, Issue 6 | July/August 2020
Dear Alumni, Friends and Members of CBC,
I have agreed to serve as CBC Interim Department Head effective August 10, 2020 until a new Head can be selected. The leadership team will continue with the efforts to move the department in a positive direction. To do so, we must all work together and continue to adhere to our core values to achieve excellence and inclusivity in all areas within the Department. In order to achieve these goals, the leadership team will continue to build on and expand the initiatives started this summer. Through the combined efforts and dedication of the CBC community, we are in a position to continue delivering the highest quality educational experience for our students, in spite of the significant challenges that lie ahead, to continue enhancing our sense of community and to advance our research and outreach missions.
I look forward to working with you all to ensure that we achieve our goals as a Department.
Best regards,
Craig Aspinwall
Interim Department Head, CBC
President Robbins Visits CBC Undergraduate Teaching Labs
Story by Hamish Christie | Photo by Mark Yanagihashi

Friday, July 31st. Braving 110 degree afternoon heat, President Robert Robbins (front right), Provost Liesl Folks (front left), and Dean Elliott Cheu (back middle) converged on the Koffler building (formerly known as CBS) for the purpose of visiting our undergraduate teaching labs to learn about the classes we teach and how we plan to run the labs as safely as we practically can during the pandemic. The Instructional Laboratory Support Group, Lab Coordinators, and CBC Machine Shop have been working to implement engineering controls and modification of tasks in addition to PPE requirements to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. Lab modifications include sneeze guards for the quad support rooms, removing seating in the classroom, restricting occupancy, changing lab curricula to achieve social distancing, and developing remote learning lab opportunities.

After taking the stairs up to the third floor of Koffler, as the group was too large to maintain distance in the elevators, the crew donned lab coats and goggles with their face coverings and got to work in one of the organic labs. As part of experiencing the lab conditions from the students’ perspective, they each initiated the noticeably exothermic crystallization of a sample of super-saturated sodium acetate and also collected pleasant-smelling vanillin recrystallized from water. Dr. Robbins recorded a proton NMR spectrum of some vanillin using one of our benchtop NMR spectrometers. Up some more stairs, the group journeyed to the fifth floor for a tour through the labs associated with our quantitative version of general chemistry. There they saw an impressive collection of glassware and instrumentation. After descending the stairs back down to ground level, they sat down in our largest lecture hall, Koffler 204, and listened to a brief presentation elaborating on the safety and pedagogical concerns that are shaping the evolution of our plans for the various types of chemistry laboratories. After some comments and discussion, our guests were treated to an entertaining demonstration involving nitrocellulose. Leaving with a favorable impression of the Department and our teaching labs, they went on their separate ways to return to their busy schedules.
Matheo Herrera Recipient of
Miriam H. Klaiman Memorial Endowment Scholarship
from the College of Science

Congratulations to Matheo Herrera, an international student from Ecuador majoring in both Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology while minoring in Mathematics. This summer Matheo was faced with a very difficult situation that was brought upon his family due to the global pandemic. Matheo decided to stay away from his home country for the first time, because he was researching in the May Khanna lab at the Center for Innovation in Brain Science. While working in the lab every day, Matheo was doing everything in his power to find funding for his studies here until graduation. He was able to accomplish this with the help of College of Science Assistant Director of Academic Advising Raini Wijeweera, who suggested he apply for the Miriam H. Klaiman Memorial Endowment Scholarship. This scholarship will allow Matheo to complete his undergraduate degree, for which he is incredibly grateful. After graduation, he plans to apply to medical school, as his ultimate goal is to become a pediatric surgeon. Matheo is looking forward to all of the things he will accomplish in the next two years at UArizona, as well as beyond.
Wolfgang Peti and Rebecca Page
Detangle Protein Interaction Implicated in
Down Syndrome and Alzheimer's

New findings by chemists Wolfgang Peti and Rebecca Page provide a foundation to better understand and treat these neurological disorders.

Story by Brittany Uhlorn, BIO5 Institute

From the movement of a finger to the creation of a memory, actions of the human body require the harmonious concert of protein interactions. A system of checks and balances ensures proper coordination of biomolecules, but when the scale is tipped, lopsided molecular relationships can lead to disorders and diseases. Discovering how proteins interact with one another under ideal conditions is critical to understand what goes awry in disease states, and to inform novel prevention and treatment strategies.

Wolfgang Peti (pictured left), a University of Arizona professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has been investigating the interaction between two proteins implicated in Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease for nearly 10 years. Past technological limitations have prevented researchers from determining the precise physical relationship between the two proteins. Peti teamed up with Rebecca Page (pictured right), professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, to address the research question through a new approach.

Cosulich and Weed Chairs Selected

Congratulations to Elisa Tomat (pictured left), who has been selected to receive the Cosulich Faculty Fellow Award for her outstanding contributions to research and education in chemistry. This award was established by the late Dr. Donna B. Cosulich, who graduated from UArizona with a BS and MS in chemistry and earned a PhD in organic chemistry at Stanford University.

Congratulations also go to Oliver Monti (pictured right), who has been selected as the Homer C. and Emily Davis Weed Endowed Chair in Chemistry, awarded for his leadership and excellence in research and education. The late Dr. Homer C. Weed received his undergraduate education at UArizona and completed a PhD in Physical Chemistry at Ohio State University. His wife, Dr. Emily Davis Weed, held a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry.
Minying Cai Elected as National Academy of Inventors
Senior Member

Congratulations to Minying Cai, who has been elected to be a National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Senior Member. The NAI Senior Member Advisory Committee has elected Dr. Cai for “success in patents, licensing, and commercialization” and for producing “technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society. Click here to see the complete list of inventors from various institutions who have been elected.
Join the College of Science and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences for an online series on the past, present, and future of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The series, titled “Science + Society: Transformation during COVID-19,” provides an interdisciplinary perspective on a pandemic that has upended the health and economy of the world, worsened systemic inequality, and challenged our interpersonal ties and personal well-being. Drawing on a range of fields, the series examines the ways the pandemic has changed our lives.

The three conversations pair experts from the two colleges, and their discussions are moderated by award-winning reporter Nancy Montoya. The lectures are available now on the series YouTube page.

The series is supported by Mike and Beth Kasser and the Holualoa Companies.
The Alumni Association invites you to attend a virtual block party:

Events include:
  • Online activities to connect recent grads
  • Information about recent alumni programs and resources
  • A look at the Bear Down Network

Sign up today by clicking on the link above for your region. You will receive the Zoom link and more information in your reservation confirmation email. Questions? Contact Rebecca Determan at rebecca.determan@al.arizona.edu.
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