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Iota Sigma Pi Sponsors a #BlackInChem Travel Award

This past summer the National Council adopted a Statement on Racism [in Science] and looked for ways to implement it. When ACS announced the #BlackInChem week, we decided to participate by offering a travel grant to a Black woman chemistry student. The recipient was Arielle Dallas, a second-year graduate student working on a PhD in biochemistry at Auburn University. Arielle does not know which conference she will attend, but she said, “I am very excited to learn from my peers and present my research.”

Arielle is a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department and is conducting research in Dr. Eduardus Duin’s group. She says, “My research is based on an enzyme in the methanogenesis process called heterodisulfide reductase (Hdr). Hdr is a part of the final steps in the methanogenesis process and is known for constructing the products coenzyme M (HS-CoM) and coenzyme B (HS-CoB). Hdr catalyzes CoBS-S-CoM (HDS) by using electrons to reduce ferredoxin and regenerate HS-CoM and HS-CoB from their previous state in the process. Hdr is capable of bifurcation, producing a low potential electron to reduce ferrodoxin, and using the high potential electron to regenerate. In order to better understand Hdr I am investigating its subunit B, which is usually studied in E. coli, but from previous studies we have learned that E. coli may not be a good host to produce properly folded protein, so to test this I will be growing this protein in a more similar organism which is M. maripaludis. My goal is to better understand HdrB characteristics and compare cluster content when HdrB is grown from both E. coli and M. maripaludis.

Arielle is from Conley, GA, and has a younger sister who is 15. She received a B.S. in Forensic Science with a concentration in Chemistry in spring of 2019 at Savannah State University. She formed a bond with a professor, Dr. Karla-Sue Marriott, and was involved in research all four years. She started with natural products research and synthesized new selective ligands for sigma-I receptors. Arielle has a few words of wisdom she always tells her undergraduate students: “Be Confident, You’re not sitting where you are because of luck, YOU have earned this, and YOU belong here!”

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