I am an environmental bioinorganic chemist. My lab focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of reactions involving metals in biology and in the environment. The lab is currently engaged in three projects. One project seeks to understand the relationships between structure and function in metalloenzymes that catalyze the oxidation of alkanes. These metalloenzymes, expressed by bacteria that live on alkanes as their sole source of carbon and energy (alkanotrophs), offer interesting insights into C-H bond activation. Another project focuses on determining if lead ions bind to metallothionein-3 (MT-3) and if they do, with what affinity. Lead exposure in children leads to irreversible developmental effects and this work can potentially provide insight into whether MT-3 might mediate some of the nueorchemistry associated with the pathological effects of lead exposure. This project has also lead to the development of a course focused on urban lead pollution in which course participants measured the lead levels in soils in Lewiston. Finally, in collaboration with partners at the University of Maine at Orono, we are developing new technologies for converting wood waste into transportation fuels and value added chemicals. Our lab is in charge of the noble metal heterogeneous catalysis effort in which we are designing, synthesizing, and characterizing catalysts for the hydrodeoxygenation of phenolic compounds.
"You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I'm not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don't know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we're here .... I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell. It doesn't frighten me." - Richard Feynman