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CSTEM College of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics


Seminar Series

Leading chemistry and biochemistry researchers present their new discoveries in an hour-long seminar. These events are free to the public. Students from all disciplines are highly recommended to attend and participate.  

Spring 2024 Seminar Series

Mondays, 5:30-6:20PM PST
Zoom Meeting ID: 854 7212 1986

  • February 5: Dr. Bercem Dutagaci, UC Merced

    Title:  Computational studies of the structure, dynamics and function of RNA polymerase II

    Website: Dutagaci Lab

  • February 19: Dr. Jeffrey Raker, University of South Florida

    Title: Making Sense of Mechanisms: Studies on Learning Organic Chemistry

    Website:  Raker Reserach Group

  • March 4: De. Elias Picazo, University of Southern California

    Title: New Reactivity to Solve Chemical Challenges

    Abstract: Synthetic challenges inspire the development of new reactivity. Our group is focused on discovering new reactions that can be applied to solve long-standing chemical problems. In 2 short years, our philosophy has resulted in a new platform of iron catalysis and on the discovery of a new aromaticity-breaking rearrangement. These contributions have been applied in cross-electrophile coupling reactions and on the synthesis of new materials. In this talk, we will discuss the approach, optimization details, and synthetic applications.

    Website:  Picazo Laboratory

  • March 25: Dr. Ozcan Gulacar, University of California at Davis

    Title:  Contradicting a World Devoid of Chemistry and Science Courses Lacking Strong Real-World Connections

    Abstract:  The world faces numerous environmental and social challenges that demand new approaches and expectations for science education. It is only possible to overcome these challenges if every person, regardless of their socio-economic status, feels responsible for all the harm has been done to the nature and learns what needs to be done to protect the environment. Educators, particularly science educators, have a tremendous obligation to ensure that their students are well-equipped and determined to achieve these crucial objectives before it is too late. Despite the scientific community's recognition of the importance of this mission, many chemistry students have lost interest in attempting to fully comprehend the topics presented, as the classroom emphasis has shifted from investigating global and local socio-scientific issues to covering abstract principles and from investigating real-life mysteries to conducting cookbook-style experiments.

    This talk aims to shed light on the challenges of developing and implementing relevant, rich, and contextualized curricula by underlining the perspectives and efforts of chemistry educators primarily from North American universities. In addition, the talk will highlight the positive effects of incorporating socio-scientific issues such as phosphate sustainability into the General Chemistry curriculum on students’ self-efficacy and motivation. Finally, the talk strives to emphasize the important role that chemistry educators play in fostering social responsibility in students and empowering them to address the greatest global challenges facing humanity in order to build a brighter and more sustainable future.

    Bio: Ozcan Gulacar is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Davis. He holds a master's degree in Physical Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Science Education. In his current position, he teaches primarily General Chemistry and first-year seminars to introduce undergraduates to chemistry education research and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. His primary research interests include investigating interactions between cognitive and affective domains in the context of socio-scientific issues, sustainability, problem-solving, and knowledge structures. In addition to teaching and conducting research, he has designed and organized workshops for high school teachers and professors on the implementation of social constructivist methods and the effective use of technological tools in science classrooms.

    Website:  UC Davis Department of Chemistry

  • April 15: Dr. Carlos D. Garcia, Clemson University

    Title:  Out of the Furnace: Transforming Paper into Electrochemical Sensors

    Carbon-based materials are particularly well-suited for electroanalytical applications due to their distinct properties, such as high chemical stability, large electroactive areas, wide electrochemical potential window in aqueous solutions, low electrical resistance, rich surface chemistry, and activity towards a variety of redox reactions. While carbon electrodes can be produced via thermal decomposition of gaseous hydrocarbons followed by their surface-induced recombination, this method is not cost-effective and suffers from both low efficiency (~20%) and limited selectivity towards graphitic forms. Alternatively, carbon electrodes can be developed via pyrolytic treatment of non-volatile substrates. This approach yields carbon materials that are rich in graphitic phases and provides researchers a much richer selection of starting materials and source-to-product efficiencies ~70%. Our team has applied this approach to develop several optically transparent carbon electrodes and has described a method for fabricating carbon electrodes by pyrolysis of paper, using a tube furnace and under a mild reducing atmosphere. The resulting electrodes not only feature the properties of traditional carbon materials but also preserve the 3D structure of the starting material, are mildly hydrophobic, and offer a wide electrochemical window and can be patterned using laser engraving. Moreover, the process also enables the incorporation of metallic nanoparticles within the structure of the material (by pyrolyzing paper pre-soaked in a solution containing the selected cation), significantly improving the conductivity of the material. Considering these findings, this presentation will provide a brief summary of the reactions leading to the fabrication of these substrates as well as discuss the most recent applications towards their use as sensors in microfluidic devices. Special emphasis will be placed on the use of these electrodes for the detection of bacteria as well as the hardware required to control them.

    Website: Microanalytical Chemistry Lab

  • April 29: Dr. Anand Bala Subramaniam, University of California at Merced

    Title: Using giant vesicles to decipher the effects of intracellular noise and membrane binding on cellular circadian rhythms.

    Biological cells show cell-to-cell variability in the concentration of proteins and nucleic acids even when they have identical genotypes. This variability arises from stochastic variations in gene expression and translation and in the rate of protein maturation and degradation. Over many cells, the variation in concentration can be described by a Gamma probability distribution with a well-defined mean and variance. In this talk, I will go over my lab’s work of understanding quantitatively the process of assembly of cell-like giant vesicles from purified lipids. I will then describe our ongoing work that shows that diffusive loading of proteins into giant vesicle buds assembled through the PAPYRUS technique results in GUV-to-GUV variation in protein concentration that follows a Gamma distribution. We find that the variance of the distribution decreased with time while the median concentration in the population matched the intended loading concentration. We use this system to functionally reconstitute the post-translational biochemical oscillator from the circadian clock of the cyanobacteria Synechococcus elongatus. We find that in vesicles the clock reaction fails in a concentration and container size dependent manner. Maximum fidelity of the clock in populations of vesicles occurs at the cell mimetic concentration.  Modeling of our data shows that the Gamma distributed variation in protein concentration and binding of components of the clock reaction to membranes fully explains our results. Membrane binding results in a surface area dependent effect that requires higher concentration than what is needed to overcome intracellular variation in small vesicles, solving the puzzle of why cyanobacteria express proteins at a much higher concentrations than is needed to overcome Poisson noise. These results show that in vitro reconstitution can be used to inform in vivo observations and opens new avenues for performing clock-controlled reactions in biomimetic giant vesicles. 

    Website: Subramaniam Lab

Student Research Showcase

Hosted in May, prior to Commencement, the Research Poster Showcase and Award Recognition Ceremony is an opportunity for the Chemistry & Biochemistry students showcase their research and celebrate the accomplishments of our graduating seniors.


Southern California Conferences for Undergraduate Research (SCCUR) is an organization of Southern California faculty, administrators, and interested members of the community who share the common goal of improving education for college and university students through hands-on experiences of undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity. SCCUR’s cornerstone program is a one-day conference held each November on the campus of a college or university in Southern California. Its purpose is to provide a forum for the presentation and discussion of the best research, scholarship, and creative work of undergraduates in the region, and thus to encourage excellence in undergraduate achievement.

 Super Stem Saturday

Get involved and volunteer at one of our booths!  Super STEM Saturday is held the second Saturday in the month of March and is part of the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering.  This event is free and open to the public.