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A Message from our New Director

Earlier this year, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at ASU became the School of Molecular Sciences. This is a reflection of the fact that modern chemical science now has profound impact well beyond the traditional disciplinary boundaries of chemistry and biochemistry. Scientific discovery in the 21st century is inescapably contextual; we live in an age where sophisticated technology is a necessary part of everyday life, and increasingly our society looks to science and technology to provide solutions to its most pressing problems in areas such as medicine, energy and the environment. At the heart of these new technologies are the structures of the molecules and materials that make them up and the chemical functionalities that emerge from those structures. Our School’s mission is to extend the limits of our fundamental understanding in molecular and materials science, pass that understanding and passion for discovery on to a new generation of scientists and translate what we learn into meaningful applications of relevance to the community.

Already this year our faculty have made headlines in multiple ways. Assistant professor Nick Stephanopoulos received a prestigious Air Force Young Investigator Award to merge peptide chemistry with DNA nanotechnology and build molecules with designed function. Professor Petra Fromme was given the highest scholastic honor possible at ASU and named a Regents Professor. This recognizes her pioneering work in the area of structural biology. Last year she initiated the Center for Applied Structural Discovery in the Biodesign Institute, where they are elucidating the atomic resolution structures of complex biological molecules from tiny crystals with only a countable number of molecules in them. In addition, they are involved in the purchase and installation of a new state-of-the-art CryoEM, an electron microscope capable of determining the structure of individual molecules with angstrom resolution. The Milton Glick chair, Professor Hao Yan, has continued his revolutionary use of DNA nanostructures and shown that it is possible to make enzymes, the catalysts of all life processes, dramatically more stable and more active by encompassing them in a DNA cage. This has the potential to allow enzymes, often considered too fragile for industrial processes, to be used in a much wider range of applications. Finally, Professors Peter Buseck and Ariel Anbar have won a very prestigious grant from the Keck Foundation to explore the origin of water and hydrogen on Earth.

These are only a sampling of the many exciting projects our faculty and students are involved in. We invite you to look at our new web page, https://sms.asu.edu, and explore the activities in the school in more detail.

With best regards,
Neal Woodbury
Professor and Director
School of Molecular Sciences
Arizona State University

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