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Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor in Natural Science and Professor, by courtesy, of Physics
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsMy research group is exploring a variety of topics that range from the basic understanding of chemical reaction dynamics to the nature of the chemical contents of single cells.
Under thermal conditions nature seems to hide the details of how elementary reactions occur through a series of averages over reagent velocity, internal energy, impact parameter, and orientation. To discover the effects of these variables on reactivity, it is necessary to carry out studies of chemical reactions far from equilibrium in which the states of the reactants are more sharply restricted and can be varied in a controlled manner. My research group is attempting to meet this tough experimental challenge through a number of laser techniques that prepare reactants in specific quantum states and probe the quantum state distributions of the resulting products. It is our belief that such state-to-state information gives the deepest insight into the forces that operate in the breaking of old bonds and the making of new ones.
Space does not permit a full description of these projects, and I earnestly invite correspondence. The following examples are representative:
The simplest of all neutral bimolecular reactions is the exchange reaction H H2 -> H2 H. We are studying this system and various isotopic cousins using a tunable UV laser pulse to photodissociate HBr (DBr) and hence create fast H (D) atoms of known translational energy in the presence of H2 and/or D2 and using a laser multiphoton ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometer to detect the nascent molecular products in a quantum-state-specific manner by means of an imaging technique. It is expected that these product state distributions will provide a key test of the adequacy of various advanced theoretical schemes for modeling this reaction.
Analytical efforts involve the use of capillary zone electrophoresis, two-step laser desorption laser multiphoton ionization mass spectrometry, cavity ring-down spectroscopy, and Hadamard transform time-of-flight mass spectrometry. We believe these methods can revolutionize trace analysis, particularly of biomolecules in cells.
Brad Zuchero, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsGlia are a frontier of neuroscience, and overwhelming evidence from the last decade shows that they are essential regulators of all aspects of the nervous system. The Zuchero Lab aims to uncover how glial cells regulate neural development and how their dysfunction contributes to diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS) and in injuries like stroke.
Although glia represent more than half of the cells in the human brain, fundamental questions remain to be answered. How do glia develop their highly specialized morphologies and interact with neurons to powerfully control form and function of the nervous system? How is this disrupted in neurodegenerative diseases and after injury? By bringing cutting-edge cell biology techniques to the study of glia, we aim to uncover how glia help sculpt and regulate the nervous system and test their potential as novel, untapped therapeutic targets for disease and injury.
We are particularly interested in myelin, the insulating sheath around neuronal axons that is lost in diseases like MS. How do oligodendrocytes- the glial cell that produces myelin in the central nervous system- form and remodel myelin, and why do they fail to regenerate myelin in disease? Our current projects aim to use cell biology and neuroscience approaches to answer these fundamental questions. Ultimately we hope our work will lead to much-needed therapies to promote remyelination in patients.