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Inorganic chemistry Seminar Series: Melissa Zastrow (University of Houston)
December 1, 2022 | 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
About the Speaker:
Melissa Zastrow was born and raised in East Haven, Connecticut. She earned her B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Connecticut. As an undergraduate, she worked with Prof. Isabelle Lagadic from 2005-2007, preparing silicate materials for encapsulating pharmaceuticals. She was then accepted to an NSF-REU program for the summer of 2007 and carried out microbiology and biochemistry research with Prof. Ming Tien at The Pennsylvania State University in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Following that, she joined the lab of Prof. Christian Brückner at UConn where she prepared meso-tetraaryl porphyrins as potential compounds for photodynamic cancer therapy. In 2008, she enrolled in the graduate program in inorganic chemistry at the University of Michigan and joined the lab of Prof. Vincent Pecoraro. Her doctoral research focused on designing a family of dual-site metallopeptides containing two separate metals in different sites with distinct functions, one of which was a hydrolytic zinc site with catalytic activity rivaling that of a highly efficient enzyme. As part of the NIH Chemistry Biology Interface Training Program, she took a brief research sabbatical with Prof. Fraser Armstrong at Oxford University where she carried out electrochemical studies on copper-binding peptides. She received her Ph.D. in 2013, and then pursued postdoctoral research from 2013-2017 as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow with Prof. Stephen Lippard at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There she developed fluorescent zinc sensors, including reaction-based acetylated sensors for high zinc sensitivity and novel small molecule-protein hybrid sensors for subcellular targeting and ratiometric imaging. In August 2017, Melissa moved to Houston, Texas and joined the faculty in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Houston.
The Zastrow group uses biological and chemical approaches to uncover and examine the roles of essential metals in the gut microbiota. Our research techniques span a range of areas centered around bioinorganic chemistry and chemical biology, including protein biochemistry and protein design, molecular biology, synthesis, cell imaging, and absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy.
Projects in the group focus on: 1) elucidating essential metal utilization in gut bacteria, 2) imaging metal ion dynamics in gut bacteria, and 3) modulating bacterial cell-to-cell communication. We are interested in understanding how metals in gut microbes affect host health, disease, and immune response and hope to foster the development of novel therapeutics.
For more info, check out the Zastrow group website.