REU Site: Catalysis and Motion

Project: Research project

Project Details


This Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site award to The Pennsylvania State University, located in University Park, PA, supports the training of 10 undergraduate students for 10 weeks during the summer months of 2021-2023. The motivation for this program, funded by the Division of Chemistry, is the recognition that hands-on research experience at an early stage has an enduring impact on students' careers and the development of their science identities. Students will be recruited nationwide, with a strong emphasis on students from underrepresented and underserved groups. Each student is supervised by a faculty mentor, and the program structure provides opportunities for cross-collaboration with students and faculty in other research groups in the department and across the university. Students will work daily on their research projects, attend weekly research seminars, participate in professional development workshops and outreach events, and deliver research presentations at a cross-campus symposium. Interactions with professional industrial chemists are planned, including site visits to companies and seminars from industrial scientist to give students career information and inspiration. Formative and summative assessment is conducted, and students' careers are tracked during and after their participation. The goal is to help, inspire, and retain undergraduate students in scientific careers by providing them with a strong educational, mentoring, and research training experience.

Many of the leading global scientific challenges require a deeper understanding both in biological and in chemical catalysis, and the subsequent or parallel ability to evolve new and better catalysts. Moreover, the ability to manipulate or regulate biological catalysts within human cells is the foundation of current therapeutics for a multitude of diseases. Students are recruited to work in the following areas: (1) Understanding Macromolecular Catalysis, which focuses on understanding how protein enzymes, protein metalloenzymes, and RNA enzymes catalyze reactions; (2) Dynamics of Biological Processes, which focuses on (a) understanding how protein movement or 'dynamics' relates to enzyme catalysis, (b) molecular motors, and (c) the movement or 'trafficking' of various types of macromolecules and small molecules within the cell and (3) New Insights into Chemical Catalysis, which involves the synthesis and characterization of chemical catalysts for a variety of processes. Coupling frontline research with professional development activities, this site aims to prepare a diverse pipeline of students ready to tackle pressing and relevant scientific problems.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date6/1/215/31/24


  • National Science Foundation: $376,275.00


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