Study finds particles, molecules prefer not to mix

In the world of small things, shape, order and orientation are surprisingly important, according to findings from a new study by chemists at Washington University in St. Louis. Lev Gelb, WUSTL associate professor of chemistry, his graduate student Brian Barnes, and postdoctoral researcher Daniel Siderius, used computer simulations to study a very simple model of molecules on surfaces, which looks a lot like the computer game “Tetris.” They have found that the shapes in this model (and in the game) do a number of surprising things.

NIH grants enable energy studies

David Kilper/WUSTL Photo(Left to right) Cindy Richard-Fogal, Ph.D., research scientist in biology in Arts & Sciences, Elaine Frawley, graduate research assistant, and Robert Kranz, Ph.D., professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, examine an *E. coli* culture.Robert G. Kranz, Ph.D., professor of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has been awarded two grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study pathways in bioenergy conversion. The first, for $1,203,250, is a long-term NIH R01 renewal that began Aug. 1 titled “Cytochrome c Biogenesis.” The renewal award means that NIH has funded Kranz continuously for 22 years.

Researchers discover pathway to cell size, division

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have discovered through genetic analyses a metabolic pathway in bacteria comprised of just three genes, all known to be players in metabolism. This pathway was previously shown to be involved in synthesizing modified membrane lipids but data from Petra Levin’s lab indicate that it also has a major role in cell division. This is the first identification of a pathway responsible for regulating bacterial cell size.

Technique monitors thousands of molecules simultaneously

David Kilper/WUSTL PhotoKevin Moeller’s group is pioneering new methods for building libraries of small molecules on addressable electrode arrays.A chemist at Washington University in St. Louis is making molecules the new-fashioned way — selectively harnessing thousands of minuscule electrodes on a tiny computer chip that do chemical reactions and yield molecules that bind to receptor sites. Kevin Moeller, Ph.D., Washington University professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences, is doing this so that the electrodes on the chip can be used to monitor the biological behavior of up to 12,000 molecules at the same time.

Hydrogen as fuel

Storing hydrogen is problematic. A WUSTL chemist and his colleagues are exploring different approaches to help make hydrogen fuel more practical.A chemist at Washington University in St. Louis hopes to find the right stuff to put the element hydrogen in a sticky situation. Lev Gelb is exploring several different ways to store hydrogen and prepares theoretical models of molecules that could enable storage and transport of hydrogen gas. One process would involve materials that hydrogen would stick to.