Research Interests


Anderson, Mary, PhD, Associate Professor

Recent Publications

Primary Teaching Area: Biochemistry

Research Interests: Our research focuses on the important antioxidant glutathione (GSH; gamma-L-glutamyl-L-cysteinylglycine). GSH is involved in many aspects of cellular defense and protection from disease; for example GSH levels are low in many disease states. We focus on the enzymology, structure-function, and regulation of the dimeric mammalian enzymes GSH biosynthesis: γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase (GCS) and GSH synthetase (GS). GS is a homodimer and GCS is a heterodimer, and the interactions of these subunits play a role in regulation. We use a variety of techniques (site-directed mutant enzymes and assess effects using activity, kinetics, circular dichroism, differential scanning calorimetry, molecular dynamics and isothermal calorimetry) to study the effects of changes on activity and function of GS and GCS on the substrate binding site and catalytic mechanism, role of several loop structures of GS, the molecular nature of the patient GS deficiencies and the dimer interface residues, especially as they affect regulation of enzyme activity. We also use molecular modeling studies to help explain our experimental findings and help guide our future studies. A better understanding of these dimer enzymes of GSH metabolism will increase our understanding of enzyme regulation in GSH biosynthesis and in enzyme regulation of biochemical pathways.

Beatty, John, PhD, Assistant Professor

Research Interests: Our group research is concentrated in areas of environmental, analytical, and physical chemistry. Our current project, conversion of carbon dioxide to reusable organic compounds, is to study plasma produced directly from carbon dioxide and utilize the plasma to react it with other gases such as hydrogen, methane, and water vapor. The need to reduce and reuse carbon dioxide produced from human activity has been in the forefront of science and public interest as way to mitigate climate change, and recycling of carbon dioxide will reduce its negative effect on the global climate. Another focus is developing methods to improve the detection of environmental contaminates at lower levels, so mitigation and process changes can occur to reduce or eliminate them. One specific area our group is interested in is to study the chlorhexidine molecule and its breakdown products, and its implication in water conservation and environmental contamination, as chlorhexidine is a highly prescribed compound. Also, our group is interested in studying the leakage of dyes and pigments from plastics. Finally, we are interested in using introduced fauna, such as the Asian Clam, as indicators of pollution in local waterways. Our group will use their combined knowledge from multiple chemical disciplines to solve issues of importance in the field of chemistry.

Britt, Mark, PhD, Professor

Recent Publications

Primary Teaching Area: Physical Biochemistry

Research Interests: Our research investigates the role played by the bulk enzyme structure in the enzyme catalytic event. Specifically, we are testing a hypothesis, the Shifting Specificity Model, to explain enzyme catalysis generally. Our experiments involve kinetic and thermodynamic measurements of interactions of enzymes with catalytically relevant ligands.

Gill, Jack T., PhD, Professor Emeritus

Primary Teaching Area: General Chemistry

Research Interests: Chemical Education

Jones, Richard C., PhD, Associate Professor Emeritus

Primary Teaching Area: Science and Science Education

Research Interests: Science Education

Li, Yunxiang, PhD, Lecturer

Research Interests: ATP synthase plays a vital role in the cellular energy metabolism. ATP synthase is the smallest nanomotor discovered. The structure and function of this enzyme are similar to a hydroelectric generator, consisting of a rotor and a stator complex. Our research aims to two aspects: (a) uncovering the unique rotary mechanism of substrate binding and product releasing and (b) illustrating the energy transmission between the rotor and stator complexes. We adopt both experimental and computational approaches, such as gene clone, mutagenesis, enzymatic assays and molecular dynamics, etc. In the recent publications, we have mapped the nucleotide binding affinity pattern along with the rotational angle alternation of the rotor complex and have identified two important locations for the energy transmission in ATP synthase. In addition to its energetic function, ATP synthase is also related to human neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. We expect to further demonstrate the mechanism of ATP synthase in the development of human diseases and the possible functions of this enzyme as a drug target.

Maguire, Cynthia, Senior Lecturer Emeritus

Recent Publications

Primary Teaching Area: Science core courses and general chemistry.

Research Interests: Science education and sustainability issues, particularly water. I want to know more about how TWU science core courses can improve science learning among non-science majors. Several of our SCI prefix courses follow the SENCER guidelines, which are designed to generate better retention of science knowledge. Our work is partially supported by grants from the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement.

Mirsaleh-Kohan, Nasrin, PhD, Division Lead; Associate Professor of Physics

Primary Teaching Area: Physics

Research Interests: Our research focuses on the interaction of currently used anticancer drugs with DNA by employing various spectroscopy techniques. The main aim of our research is to develop analytical techniques that can systematically elucidate how DNA and anticancer drugs interact and the consequences of the interactions. Such understanding is paramount to designing new anticancer drugs. Understanding the factors involved in the binding of DNA to drugs is the overall question of our research. There are many variables that impact the effectiveness of a drug, such as dosage which is a component of our work. In addition to this research, Kohan is also interested in understanding teaching pedagogy and student learning, particularly in science classes.

Peebles, Lynda, PhD, Senior Lecturer

Primary Teaching Area: Introductory Chemistry, Introduction to Organic and Physiological Chemistry, Physical Chemistry

Research Interests: Chemical Education

Petros, Robby, PhD, Assistant Professor

Research Interests: Petros’ research is currently focused on the synthesis of a doxorubicin-albumin conjugate via cobalt crosslinking chemistry developed by his laboratory. These conjugates hold potential for finding new treatments for diseases such as cancer. The conjugation technique can be used to crosslink any two amine-containing (bio)molecules and represents a new platform for performing bioconjugation reactions. His group is currently working on characterizing of the conjugates that have been synthesized and in examining drug release profiles. Characterization techniques include UV/Vis, dynamic light scattering, HPLC, and differential scanning calorimetry.

Rawashdeh-Omary, Manal, PhD, Professor

Recent Publications

Primary Teaching Area: Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry

Research Interests: 

Our group focuses on the design, syntheses and characterization of various metal-containing molecular materials, including small molecular complexes, metal-organic coordination oligomers and polymers (including metal-organic frameworks or MOFs), for their potential role as environmental sensors, electronic devices, and medicinal reagents. The material design is guided by fundamental chemical phenomena such as metal-metal bonding, acid-base chemistry, and energy and/or electron transfer. one project pertained to the design of phosphorescent complexes based on copper halide clusters and coordination polymers thereof upon changing the ligating ligand from mono- to di-imine, leading to brightly phosphorescent complexes with remarkable fine- and coarse-tuning of their photophysical properties such as luminescence colors, lifetimes, and/or quantum yields. Another project has focused on developing a variety of metal-containing drugs based on copper-polyimine monomeric and oligomeric complexes; some such complexes proved its efficacy for CO capture from the atmosphere. This class of complexes entailed transformation between Cu(I), Cu(II), and mixed valence Cu(I)Cu(II) species.

A third project we have started to explore solvent-free transformations (mechanochemical and sublimation) versus the conventional solvent-mediated approach for the synthesis of the new molecular materials we are pursuing. We evaluated “solventless chemistry” in which vapors of various organometallic complexes intercalated macrocyclic complexes possessing the opposite electrostatic behavior and resulted in formation of new binary supramolecular adducts with remarkably different optical and thermal properties. In addition, Rawashdeh-Omary incorporates research into the educational curriculum of her upper-level classes and labs, the latter include “discovery experiments” whereby new research ideas are pursued. Students from such labs who attain promising results have been participating in scientific symposia and conferences to present their research discoveries.

Riggs, Charles, PhD, Professor

Salazar, Gustavo A., PhD, Assistant Professor

Research Interests: Our first project focuses on the microwave-assisted alcoholysis of polycarbonates, PC, found in electronic waste (e-waste). The rapid accumulation of e-waste in landfills worldwide is causing adverse effects to the environment; consequently, there is an urgent need to repurpose e-waste, especially its plastic components. In our lab, we research the microwave-assisted de-polymerization of PC under controlled temperatures and irradiation intensities with continuous cooling. Furthermore, technics such as IR, 13C- and 1H-NMR, TGA, and DSC allow us to characterize the recovered di-alcohols and organic carbonates along with any by-products. Our second project addresses the concomitant pollution of plastics called microplastics. Currently, microplastics are defined as plastic particles of less than 5 mm to about 1 µm in size; recently, their studies and characterization have gotten a larger attention, especially those found in oceanic and fresh waters. However, less attention has been placed on microplastics found in soil; thus, we are interested in understanding fundamental chemical and thermodynamic interactions of microplastics with soil and soil components such as clay minerals.

Sheardy, Richard, PhD, Associate Director, TWU School of the Sciences; Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry

Recent Publications

Primary Teaching Area: Biochemistry

Research Interests: We have been investigating the physical properties of the DNA quadruplex formed from (TTAGGG)4 in K+ solutions as well as the physical properties of Gemini surfactants of general composition RR’2N+(CH2)nN+RR’2 2Br-, where R is –(CH2)11CH3, R’ is –CH3 and n = 2, 3 or 4 and which form micelles in water at concentrations greater than 1.0 mM. The DNA quadruplex will have a high negative charge density due to the phosphates being close together while the micelles will have a high positive charge density due to the close proximity of the ammonium moieties. We have been investigating the potential interactions between the quadruplex and other DNA sequences and the surfactants at different concentrations of surfactant using dynamic light scattering, conductivity and circular dichroism approaches. 

Taylor, Alana Presley, Visiting Lecturer

Page last updated 10:31 AM, April 1, 2022