Ilsa Cooke, Assistant Professor
Department of Chemistry
The University of British Columbia
Aromatic chemistry in the interstellar molecular cloud TMC-1
Molecules are not limited to our solar system but exist in the extreme environments found in interstellar space. Astrochemistry is the study of this rich and diverse chemistry that occurs throughout the universe. Our picture of the molecular universe is becoming increasingly complex with around 250 molecules identified in the interstellar medium, and the rate of new detections still growing.
Dense molecular clouds are the earliest stage of star formation and provide the molecular material that will make up new planets and solar systems. I will present our recent observations of a particular molecular cloud in Taurus, TMC-1, including the detection of the first interstellar polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In order to understand how these molecules can form in TMC-1, laboratory experiments can be used to simulate interstellar reactions and quantify their kinetics. I will discuss how we implement laboratory astrophysics tools to unravel interstellar pathways to aromatic molecules.
Dr. Katie Wilson (she/her), Assistant Professor
Department of Biochemistry
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Investigating the biomolecular interactions that drive membrane protein function through multiscale molecular dynamics simulations
The integrity of cells, function of organelles and existence of life is depended on the presence of cell membranes. The essential core of these membranes is the lipid bilayer, which contains incredible diversity in the chemi r, cell membranes contain a large variety of embedded proteins. These proteins underpin the pathways involved in the regulation of metabolites, signalling molecules, hormones, nutrients and trace elements. Recent work has highlighted that the lipid bilayer can affect the structure and function of proteins that are embedded in the membrane. Nevertheless, our current understanding of how each of these components affects the properties of the cell membrane and the functioning of membrane protein remains elusive; in part due to the difficulties in studying the dynamics of membranes at high spatiotemporal resolution. As membrane proteins account for ~70% of all drug targets gaining a wholistic understanding of membrane proteins is critical for future drug development. Through using multiscale molecular dynamics simulations insights into the behaviour of membranes and membrane proteins can be obtained. This talk will highlight recent research that focuses on the complex interplay between the lipid environment of the structure and function of membrane proteins, and the role of the membrane lipids in the design of novel drugs for the treatment of chronic pain.