Chemistry Ph.D. Student Wins Big at Prestigious Gordon Research Conference

Posted On August 25, 2015
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Chemistry Ph.D. student Crystal Smitherman has received the Jeremy Knowles Travel Award at the 2015 Gordon Research Conference on Enzymes, Coenzymes, and Metabolic Pathways.

“The conference is pretty intense,” said Smitherman. “There are attendees at this conference that graduate and postdoctoral students only read about, so we’re able to see the people publishing cutting-edge work. It is a great opportunity to really showcase your newly developed ideas to people that I’m sure would love to take it to the next level.” Unknown

The Gordon Research Conference is a collaboration between industry and academia, featuring a series of seminars covering developments and techniques all related to enzyme mechanisms. The $1,000 Jeremy Knowles Travel Award is awarded annually at the conference to one emerging scientist. Smitherman won the award for her research, “Excited State Proton Transfers in Flavoprotein.”

Smitherman was also nominated and elected as the 2017 chair of the Gordon Research Seminar while attending the conference. The seminar serves as a platform for graduate students, postdoctoral students and young researchers to discuss their current research and contribute to the Gordon Research Conference experience. It features sessions led by graduate and postdoctoral students.

“To receive this award in front of all these people that are the leaders in my field was outstanding. I was shocked,” said Smitherman. “And then to be selected as chair for the seminar blew my mind.”

Smitherman presented her study on excited state reactions in select flavoprotein oxidases at the Gordon Research Seminar. She found that by following the fluorescent spectral changes of the flavin bound to these enzymes, excited state proton transfers and formation of an intermediate in the absence of substrate was detected for the first time.

Smitherman recently accepted a position at Aalto Scientific, where she will work as a research and development chemist. She expects to graduate December 2015.