School of Humanities and Sciences
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Laura M.K. Dassama
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
BioThe Dassama laboratory at Stanford performs research directed at understanding and mitigating bacterial multidrug resistance (MDR). Described as an emerging crisis, MDR often results from the misuse of antibiotics and the genetic transfer of resistance mechanisms by microbes. Efforts to combat MDR involve two broad strategies: understanding how resistance is acquired in hopes of mitigating it, and identifying new compounds that could serve as potent antibiotics. The successful implementation of both strategies relies heavily on an interdisciplinary approach, as resistance mechanisms must be elucidated on a molecular level, and formation of new drugs must be developed with precision before they can be used. The laboratory uses both strategies to contribute to current MDR mitigation efforts.
One area of research involves integral membrane proteins called multidrug and toxin efflux (MATE) pumps that have emerged as key players in MDR because their presence enables bacteria to secrete multiple drugs.The genes encoding these proteins are present in many bacterial genomes. However, the broad substrate range and challenges associated with membrane protein handling have hindered efforts to elucidate and exploit transport mechanisms of MATE proteins. To date, substrates identified for MATE proteins are small and ionic drugs, but recent reports have implicated these proteins in efflux of novel natural product substrates. The group’s approach will focus on identifying the natural product substrates of some of these new MATE proteins, as well as obtaining static and dynamic structures of the proteins during efflux. These efforts will define the range of molecules that can be recognized and effluxed by MATE proteins and reveal how their transport mechanisms can be exploited to curtail drug efflux.
Another research direction involves the biosynthesis of biologically active natural products. Natural products are known for their therapeutic potential, and those that derive from modified ribosomal peptides are an important emerging class. These ribosomally produced and post-translationally modified peptidic (RiPP) natural products have the potential to substantially diversify the chemical composition of known molecules because the peptides they derive from can tolerate sequence variance, and modifying enzymes can be selected to install specific functional groups. With an interest in producing new antimicrobial and anticancer compounds, the laboratory will exploit the versatility of RiPP natural product biosynthesis. Specifically, efforts in the laboratory will revolve around elucidating the reaction mechanisms of particular biosynthetic enzymes and leveraging that understanding to design and engineer new natural products with desired biological activities.
Professor of German Studies and of Comparative Literature
BioMy research focuses on the long nineteenth century, in particular the intersection of literature, music and philosophy. My first book, "Zwillingshafte Gebärden": Zur kulturellen Wahrnehmung des vierhändigen Klavierspiels im neunzehnten Jahrhundert (Königshausen & Neumann, 2009), traces four-hand piano playing as both a cultural practice and a motif in literature, art and philosophy (an English edition of the book recently appeared as Four-Handed Monsters: Four-Hand Piano Playing and Nineteenth-Century Culture (Oxford University Press, 2014)). My second book Uncivil Unions - The Metaphysics of Marriage in German Idealism and Romanticism (University of Chicago Press, 2012), explored German philosophical theories of marriage from Kant to Nietzsche. My book Tristan's Shadow - Sexuality and the Total Work of Art (University of Chicago Press, 2013) deals with eroticism in German opera after Wagner. In 2015 I published The James Bond Songs: Pop Anthems of late Capitalism (Oxford University Press), which I co-wrote with Charles Kronengold. In 2016 I published a German-language book of essays entitled Pop-Up Nation (Hanser). I am a frequent contributor to periodicals and newspapers in the United States, Germany and Switzerland. My current book project will trace the fate of the dynasty in the age of the nuclear family. In addition, I have published articles on topics such as fin-de-siècle German opera, the films of Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, literature and scandal, the cultural use of ballads in the nineteenth century, and writers like Novalis, Stefan George, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno and W.G. Sebald.
Associate Professor of History and, by courtesy, of French and Italian
BioI am an historian of modern Europe and European imperialism with a particular interest in political, cultural, and social history, as well as the history of humanitarianism.
My first book, An Empire Divided: Religion, Republicanism, and the Making of French Colonialism, 1880-1914 (Oxford University Press, 2006) tells the story of how troubled relations between Catholic missionaries and a host of republican critics shaped colonial policies, Catholic perspectives, and domestic French politics in the decades before the First World War. Based on archival research from four continents, the book challenges the long-held view that French colonizing and “civilizing” goals were the product of a distinctly secular republican ideology built on Enlightenment ideals. By exploring the experiences of religious workers, one of the largest groups of French men and women working abroad, the book argues that many “civilizing” policies were wrought in the fires of discord between missionaries and anti-clerical republicans – discord that indigenous communities exploited in responding to colonial rule.
My current project, entitled Humanity So Far Away: Violence, Suffering, and Humanitarianism in the Modern French Empire, places the successes and failures of colonial “civilizing” projects within the broader context of the development of European sensibilities regarding violence, global suffering, and human rights. Based on research in archives on five continents, Humanity So Far Away explores the central role human suffering played as an experience, a moral concept, and a political force in the rise and fall of French imperialism from the late 1800s to the 1960s. The book also considers how colonial practices increasingly intersected with efforts to establish norms of humane behavior – efforts most often led by non-state and international bodies, especially the League of Nations and the International Labor Organization. Drawing on the methods of political, cultural, and intellectual history, my research ultimately aims to explore concretely the extent to which notions about empathy and humanitarianism spread (or failed to spread) from Europe to the outermost reaches of the globe in the twentieth century.
Associate Professor of Political Science
BioLauren Davenport is an Associate Professor of Political Science. Her general research interests include American politics, public opinion, and race and ethnicity.
Current Role at StanfordAssociate Director, Symbolic Systems Program
Lecturer, Symbolic Systems Program
Researcher, Center for the Study of Language and Information
Faculty in Residence, Bing Overseas Studies Program - Oxford (Winter 2019-2020)
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsProfessor Davis’ research and teaching deals broadly with the role that water and sanitation services play in promoting public health and economic development, with particular emphasis on low- and middle-income countries. Her group conducts applied research that utilizes theory and analytical methods from public and environmental health, engineering, microeconomics, and planning. They have conducted field research in more than 20 countries, most recently including Zambia, Bangladesh, and Kenya.
Giulio De Leo
Professor of Biology and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsI am a theoretical ecologist mostly interested in investigating factors and processes driving the dynamics of natural and harvested populations and on how to use this knowledge to inform practical management. I have worked broadly on life histories analysis, fishery management, dynamics and control of infectious diseases and environmental impact assessment.