Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Los Angeles, CA, UNITED STATES
Seaver College of Science and Engineering
Ph.D., Organic Chemistry
This award recognizes his ability to effectively engage students in course material, as well as his distinct interest in the academic well-being of the students and active participation in their advisement.2011-04-21
Involving undergraduate students in my research projects has been an important priority of mine. I have always felt that a key component of my profession is to not only conduct meaningful research, but to do so with undergraduate students. Our research group’s current active projects are described below:
G-quadruplexes are secondary structures formed in guanine-rich sequences of nucleic acids. G-quartets, formed from the association of four guanine bases through Hoogsteen base pairing, coordinate with cations and stack on top of each other to form the quadruplex structure. These structures can assemble from guanine derivatives or nucleic acid strands, forming a variety of quadruplex topologies. The G-quadruplex structure can occur naturally in G-rich sequences and have been identified in telomeres and gene promoter regions. As these structures are linked to such diverse functions, the need exists for understanding the self-assembly of G-quadruplexes. As such, our group is interested in synthesizing guanine derivatives and investigating their self-assembly into the quadruplex structure. Telomerase inhibition is an additional interest to our group. As the G-quadruplex structure has been shown to decrease telomerase activity, small molecule stabilization of quadruplex formation in telomeric DNA is a logical target for anticancer therapies. Recent work in our lab has focused on the synthesis of new compounds that can serve to stabilize quadruplex DNA.
Aggregation of the pancreatic protein Islet Amyloid Polypeptide (IAPP or amylin) into soluble toxic oligomers and insoluble amyloid appears to play a direct role in the progression of type 2 diabetes. While it remains unclear whether the formation of toxic oligomers and amyloid is a direct cause of this disease or merely a symptom, evidence is mounting that suggests that inhibiting this aggregation may be a key step toward slowing or preventing the progression of this disease. Our group has recently begun a collaboration with Dr. David Moffet (LMU), synthesizing small libraries of novel polyphenol analogs based on the structures of known amyloid inhibitors. We are currently synthesizing our second iteration of compounds and investigating their ability to inhibit amyloid formation
The Problemsolving Examples with Narration for Students (PENS) project created and assessed instructional materials that target one of the central skills required for success in the STEM fields: problemsolving. Instead of focusing solely on the refined end product of problemsolving or written solutions, students were instructed on how to focus explicitly on the problem-solving process, with particular attention paid to selfregulation. To make what is essentially an internal thought process explicit, students and instructors recorded thinkalouds that were included in mathematics, chemistry, physics and teacher preparation courses to support teaching STEM problemsolving. Through this project, our overarching goals were to understand and measure how students and experts’ problem solve and to assist students in actively learning how to problem solve through the analysis and interpretation of recordings. We are currently in the process of creating better tools for students to learn problem-solving and analyzing student work, focusing on identifying and categorizing key monitoring events important to the problem-solving process.
Atomic theory; chemical nomenclature; chemical equations and reactions; stoichiometry; properties of gases, solids, and liquids; electronic structure of atoms and periodic properties of the elements; covalent bonding and molecular geometry.
Solutions, chemical kinetics, thermodynamics, acids and bases, equilibria, electrochemistry, nuclear reactions, and selected additional topics.
Introduction to the fundamentals of organic chemistry: chemical properties, synthesis and nomenclature of alkanes, alkenes, cycloalkanes, aromatic hydrocarbons, and alkyl halides.
Introduction to the fundamental lab techniques used in organic chemistry.
Introduction to the chemistry of alcohols, ethers, carbonyl compounds, amines, and carbohydrates.
Laboratory experience in synthesis and analysis of organic compounds.
An introduction to the forensic sciences with an emphasis on chemistry. This course gives students an appreciation for the activities of a real forensic laboratory. Topics covered include basic analytical techniques, arson investigation, and fingerprint, drug, blood, and DNA analyses.
Modern synthetic reactions, mechanisms and study of organic synthesis.
Laboratory techniques for multi-step synthesis and spectroscopic analysis of organic compounds.