If you follow my research accomplishments, you will see that I dabble in a variety of subjects and techniques. As a trained chemical biologist, I’d say I’m a jack of all trades (maybe a master of none?). When you talk to my students, they would probably tell you that I’m always adding in a new technique for us to try out. I’m easily excited about any science at the interface of chemistry, biology, and medicine. So when some asks me to collaborate, I always say yes. Sometimes it pulls me thin as I tend to jump head first into the deep end with everything I do, but it also helps me keep growing and learning as a scientist myself.

When I invited my good friend and grad school benchmate, Dr. Meghan Blackledge of High Point University, to give a research seminar at UR in fall 2018, I didn’t know I was signing up for a new collaboration. However, she told an awesome story of antibiotic adjuvants and spoke with some first years in our SMART course. One of those students, Makayla Callender, asked her a number of questions and got very enthusiastic about their work. So when Meghan asked if I wanted collaborate on some protein expression and characterization with her and told me that she had already picked out a student to join the project, how could I say no? Najwa Labban, who was in her senior year at the time, was wrapping up work on our sensors project and was ready to mentor Makayla on protein expression. Well we jumped in to a new project. It involved optimization of multiple kinase assays and evaluation of molecules that just didn’t do what we thought they would do. And then the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020. Research slowed. Makayla’s summer at High Point in 2020 was cancelled. We had to wait for backordered reagents and supplies to come in. But finally we built a beautiful story. 

I like the research project because it really embodies collaboration at its finest: Meghan as a bacterial assay expert, Dr. Heather Miller as a gene expression expert, and me as the protein biochemist. It is a testament that we got the best reviews that I’ve ever experienced.

So congratulations to the HPU and UR undergraduates on their amazing work! You can read the manuscript here in ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, hot off the press today!