NSF CAREER Award, 2018
Steffen Lindert, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has received a five-year National Science Foundation's (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for his work on extending the capabilities of mass spectrometry, an analytical technique used to characterize the composition of molecules in pure samples and complex mixtures.
The NSF CAREER Program offers the Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.
With support from the Chemical Measurement and Imaging Program in the Division of Chemistry, Lindert and his group at are working to significantly extend the capabilities of mass spectrometry (MS) from simply characterizing the composition of molecules (e.g. metabolites, proteins, small chemical molecules) to helping predict detailed structures (especially of proteins). This is achieved by chemically reacting accessible sites on a protein with specific chemical labels and subsequently using MS to discover which sites on the protein were labeled.
Given the importance of proteins in regulating the chemistry of life, better tools for probing protein structure supports better understanding of that chemistry in both healthy and diseased organisms. To help convey these principles to a general audience, the Lindert group is also developing an MS-Fold version of the popular scientific video game Foldit. This work aims to increase public scientific literacy, and to expand interest and engagement in STEM science and technology-related disciplines. The ultimate goal is to increase STEM participation, particularly of underrepresented groups, and to improve STEM education at the undergraduate and graduate level.