March 2019

Dr. Ryan C. Fortenberry (University of Mississippi): The Alien Molecules of Space.

Molecules float around everywhere even in the “vacuum” of space. These same little tiny pieces of everything that make up our bodies, our planet, and the air we breathe are actually also floating around between planets, around stars, and even are spread in between galaxies. Some of these molecules are familiar to us like water, methanol, and carbon dioxide. However, some are strange like protonated N2, the wing-shaped C3H2, individual salt molecules, and even one with a noble gas atom in ArH+. Some even might be the building blocks of molecules which could go on to make up our muscles, cells, and DNA. These molecules both foreign and familiar are lurking in the depths of space even when we think nothing is there.

This talk will describe what molecules are present in space, how they have been detected, and what that means for us here on Earth.


 

Dr. Nikki Reinemann (on behalf of Mississippi State University): Molecular Motors — Driving Life at the Nanoscale

Molecules and their actions are the basis of life. Even our seemingly large-scale movements, such as walking or breathing, are powered by tiny protein machines known as molecular motors. Motor proteins are powered by a chemical fuel called ATP, just as our cars are powered by gasoline. The fuel allows the motor to make structural changes that facilitate movement within the cell and the body. The motors can transport essential cargo in the body, power cell translocation, drive cell division, and when combined together, allow organisms to move. Defects in these proteins are the basis of many diseases. At the same time, due to their essential nature, molecular motors are also drug targets to stop cancerous cell growth. Research in the Reinemann lab focuses on understanding the behavior of motor proteins at the single molecule and cellular system level using a method called optical trapping. This talk will describe specific functions of molecular motor proteins in life and disease, their behavior on the nanoscale, and methods to study them as single molecules.

March 19, 2019, 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Uptown Coffee, 265 North Lamar Blvd, Oxford