The Amherst College Biology Department welcomes our two new faculty members: Professor Sally Kim, Neurobiologist, and Professor Mona Wu Orr, Biochemist.
Professor Sally Kim will be teaching BIOL-191 Molecules, Genes & Cells in the Fall 2020 semester, and BIOL-301/NEUR-301 Molecular Neurobiology in the Spring.
Professor Kim's research statement:
Zinc has emerged as an unexplored new major signaling ion for transmission of information within and between cells. Traditionally considered a metal responsible for catalytic and structural function, recent work suggests that zinc may be central to a better understanding of the fundamental biology and pathology of neurons. As a neuroscientist, cell biologist and biophysicist, I want to understand the basic mechanisms of zinc signaling in neurons and bridge this understanding for potential translational applications for autism and neurodegneration. By focusing on zinc-sensitive protein signaling pathways, my lab currently studies zinc’s role via Shank3 in synaptic transmission using an interdisciplinary approach of molecular, cellular, biochemical, and optical methods.
Outside of lab, I enjoy reading, baking (I like to procrasti-bake) & cooking, growing orchids, playing the violin, knitting, doing anything creative and hanging out with Rachel and Sophia (our mother-daughter Shih Tzu dynamic duo).
I’m thrilled to be joining you at Amherst College, and I can’t wait to meet you virtually and (hopefully) in person sometime soon! Please reach out if you are interested in my research, have any questions, or just want to say hello.
Professor Wu Orr will be teaching BIOL-331/BCBP-331/CHEM-331 Biochemistry in the Fall, and BIOL-191 Molecules, Genes & Cells in the Spring
Professor Orr's research statement:
Small proteins (~50 amino acids or shorter) were previously overlooked in many bioinformatic and biochemical analysis. However, recent work demonstrates that small proteins are encoded across all domains of life and often play critical roles as cellular regulators. I am interested in how bacterial small proteins mediate responses to environmental stresses, particularly antibiotic exposure. My lab uses a combination of biochemistry and genetics techniques to characterize a small protein that regulates an antibiotic efflux pump and to identify novel small proteins from bacterial pathogens. A better understanding of how these small proteins work could let us exploit their regulatory activities for the treatment of bacterial infections. Additionally, the lessons learned from these experiments will be valuable in the study of small proteins in other species.
In my spare time, I enjoy brewing kombucha, fermenting produce, and attempting sourdough bakes. Fermentation is just delicious microbial biochemistry!