Accomplishments: Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

April 22, 2021
Gary Kleiger (Chemistry and Biochemistry) was awarded a four-year, $1.5 million R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health titled "How Ubiquitin-carrying Enzymes Contribute to Ubiquitin Ligase Specificity." He is the sole principal investigator on the grant. The funding will be used to explore how targeted protein degradation may lead to novel cancer therapies. 
April 12, 2021
Alexander Barzilov (Mechanical Engineering), Artem Gelis (Chemistry), and Zaijing Sun (Health Physics and Diagnostic Sciences) gave recruitment presentations and answered questions about corresponding nuclear-related programs at the 2021 ANS Virtual Student Conference last week. UNLV is among the 11 top-tier universities invited to have university recruitment sessions at the conference and is the only university with three virtual booths in the full scope of nuclear-related fields, including...
March 25, 2021
Sarah York (Chemistry & Biochemistry) has accepted a 2021 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. York's research is in chemistry education. Her dissertation research will focus on the use of systems thinking approaches to improve chemistry teaching and learning. Her advisor, MaryKay Orgill, found the following line from her offer letter to be particularly relevant: "Your selection as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow is a highly significant national accomplishment and...
March 12, 2021
Jun Yong Kang (Chemistry and Biochemistry) has been awarded a patent (10,927,135) granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the invention “Metal-free Direct Arylation of Dialkyl Phosphonates for the Synthesis of Mixed Alkyl Aryl Phosphonates” Mixed phosphonates show a wide range of biological applications including phosphonate prodrugs, antibacterial agents, and enzyme inhibitors. This invention affords efficient synthesis of functionalized mixed phosphonates under toxic metal-free...
February 4, 2021
Gary Kleiger (Chemistry) participated in an international collaboration with Brenda Schulman, director of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry. Published this week in Nature, their article describes at atomic structural resolution how enzymes called ubiquitin ligases function in human cells. How these enzymes work is also of considerable importance to a blossoming, new drug discovery area in biotechnology called targeted protein degration. 
January 27, 2021
James Louis-Jean (Chemistry) recently was published in the Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry for his work on isotope analysis of nuclear materials with collaborators at Los Alamos National Lab. His other accomplishments include receiving the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Fellowship in fall 2020, the African American Partnership Program at Los Alamos National Laboratory (2019), and the Seaborg Research Fellowship (2018). Additionally, he was the recipient of a first-place...
December 14, 2020
Ashkan Salamat's (Physics and Astronomy) recent research about room-temperature superconductivity with colleague Ranga Dias from the University of Rochester was announced as one of 10 finalists in Physics World magazine's Breakthrough of the Year for 2020.  The announcement of the Breakthrough of the Year will be made Dec. 17. This year’s Top 10 Breakthroughs were selected by a crack team of five Physics World editors, who have sifted through hundreds of research updates published on the...
December 10, 2020
Gary Kleiger (Chemistry and Biochemistry) is a co-corresponding author on a paper titled "Linkage-Specific Ubiquitin Chain Formation Depends on a Lysine Hydrocarbon Ruler" that was in the journal Nature Chemical Biology. Alums Nicholas Purser, '19 BS Biology; Nicole Burton, '20 BS Chemistry; and Daniel Houston, '09 BA Psychology and BS Biology, played important roles in the study and are also co-authors. Purser will join the Kleiger lab as a PhD student in the spring.
December 7, 2020
Mary Blankenship (Economics, Chemistry, Brookings Mountain West, The Liny Institute, Honors), was awarded the 2020 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award during the fall 2020 Virtual Undergraduate Research Symposium, sponsored by the office of undergraduate research (OUR). This award recognizes one outstanding UNLV undergraduate student for excellence in research. In addition to her award, Blankenship also was selected to be a keynote speaker for the research symposium. An active...
December 3, 2020
Mary Blankenship (Economics, Chemistry, Brookings Mountain West, Honors) recently was featured in the Global News article "‘Playing with Fire’: How Politicians Can Perpetuate Baseless Conspiracy Theories" where she discusses steps individuals can take to stop the spread of misinformation on Twitter.
December 2, 2020
Hui Zhang and Hong Sun (both Chemistry and Biochemistry) received an RO1 grant, “Regulation of SOX Proteins by Methylation-dependent Proteolysis in Stem Cells and Development,” from the National Institutes of Health for four years for a total of $1,238,360. The objective of this RO1 grant is to investigate how the pluripotency and self-renewal of embryonic stem cells and neurogenesis during the development of the central nervous system are controlled by novel lysine methylation-dependent...
November 24, 2020
The office of undergraduate research (OUR) recently held its Fall 2020 Undergraduate Research Symposium and the College of Sciences brought home several honors, including: The School of Life Sciences earned the Champions of Undergraduate Research Award for its commitment to excellence in research education. The school's leadership and faculty were commended for their contributions to elevating the role of experiential and discovery learning at UNLV and to advancing OUR’s mission. The College...