Chemistry Department Seminars

Chemistry Department Seminars will take place online until further notice. In order to attend a department seminar, please contact the chemistry department at to request the Zoom meeting information.

The department strives to offer a diverse and vibrant seminar program. Each year leading researchers from outside the department, as well as faculty and graduate students from Western, present and discuss their cutting-edge research. This is an excellent opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and visitors to actively participate in the scientific community. In addition, many outside seminar speakers are recruiting graduate students for their respective programs and are eager to discuss their program. All are welcome and encouraged to attend! 

Photo Credit Roisin Cowan-Kuist, 2019

Current Seminar Schedule 

Seminars will be hosted mostly on Zoom throughout Spring Quarter 2022. If you are interested in attending a seminar, please email to request the seminar zoom attendance information.

Seminars typically take place on Friday from 3:15-4:15pm

Seminar topics and titles will be posted as we receive additional information from speakers.

Recordings of select seminars will be available on the Chemistry Department Canvas page. If you wish to watch a previously recorded seminar please reach out to

Spring Quarter 2022 Seminars

April 8, 2022 - Dr. Steven Emory 

College to Career Panel


April 15, 2022 - David Vacadlo, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Chemical biology tools for probing and perturbing carbohydrate processing enzymes in mammalian systems

Abstract:  In this presentation I will discuss work focused on the major research theme of the Laboratory of Chemical Biology, which is centered on the design and use of chemical biology tools to probe and perturb glycans and carbohydrate processing enzymes in cells and in vivo. Topics to be discussed will include our studies on the function of the enzymes that regulate levels of the intracellular O-GlcNAc modification, the creation and characterization of inhibitors of these enzymes, and how these have led to industrial efforts that have advanced such compounds into human clinical trials. I will also describe recent work on the creation and optimization of live cell fluorescence imaging agents that allow quantitative measurement of the activity of glycosidases in live mammalian cells by microscopy or flow cytometry. Examples on the use of these discovery-focused chemical probes to advance fundamental research will be presented. These examples will include studies on examining the roles of O-GlcNAc in nutrient sensing and cellular proteostasis, as well as developing high throughput screening methods to identify modulators of carbohydrate processing enzymes implicated in various diseases ranging from cancer to neurodegeneration.

April 22, 2022 - Mike Harms, Associate Professor, Institute of Molecular Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Oregon

Ensembles, epistasis, and evolution: how biophysics shapes evolutionary outcomes

Abstract:Macromolecules exist as ensembles of interchanging conformations. Such dynamics are important for molecular function and regulation. I hope to convince you these ensembles also shape evolution. I will discuss several lines of ongoing work. 1) Using theoretical and computational approaches, we found that changes in ensemble composition can profoundly alter the effects of mutations. 2) Using experiments on the lac repressor and an RNA riboswitch, we revealed that these predicted effects are detectable both in vitro and in vivo. 3) Using phylogenetic reconstructions and experimental studies of the innate immune protein S100A9, we revealed that molecular ensembles have indeed shaped the historical evolution of natural proteins. Together, this work is revealing an intimate connection between molecular ensembles—an inescapable biophysical feature of macromolecules—and how these molecules evolve

April 29, 2022 - Jacob Brockerman, Associate Scientist, AGC Biologics

Characterizing Protein Electrostatics by NMR Spectroscopy

Abstract: Charged and polar amino acids serve key functions in proteins. They act as catalytic residues in enzymes and provide contributions to protein stability. The labile hydrogens on these amino acids undergo exchange with water and thus are typically difficult to characterize by current techniques in structural biology. Their properties are often inferred from biophysical arguments rather than direct experimental determination. In this talk, I will discuss tools used to probe protein electrostatics. I will show their implementation on model systems and discuss what was learned about protein structure & enzymatic catalysis of these model systems.  


May 6, 2022 - Slesnik Simposium


May 13, 2022 - Steve Reichow Associate Professor  of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Department of Chemistry Portland State University

Mechanistic Insights into Gap Junction Communication Pathways Visualized by Cryo-EM

Abstract: A major aim in the Reichow Lab is to understand how the cells in our body organize complex mechanisms of cell-to-cell communication, through the use of specialized proteins called gap junctions. These large pore-forming membrane channels directly couple neighboring cells, enabling direct passage to an array of electrical and chemical information. In this way, gap junctions dynamically coordinate the synchronous contraction of our heart, facilitate the instantaneous response of electrical synapses in our brain, and regulate long-range signaling and metabolic coupling in nearly every tissue in our bodies. Due to these diverse physiological roles, aberrant function of the gap junctions is associated with a variety of human disease, such as blindness, deafness, heart attack, stroke and cancers. Yet, the field still lacks a fundamental understanding for how these channels work at the molecular level. Our lab is harnessing emerging technologies of Cryo-EM, coupled with molecular dynamics simulations, biophysical analyses, and functional studies to elucidate the complex properties of gap junction channels involved in human health and disease.

May 20, 2022 - Scholars Week


May 27, 2022 - Parisa Hosseinzadeh, Assistant Professor, Knight Campus University of Oregon

Designer proteins for biomedical applications


Abstract: The recent advances in protein structure prediction and design has opened the door to many exciting new opportunities in generating designer proteins for a number of biomedical appliactions. In this talk I will talk about how my lab uses these methods to generate proteins and peptides that bind to other proteins selectively as biosensors, drug delivery vehicles, or pharmaceutics.



WWU Chemistry Research Publications