“I was really surprised!” says Professor Alanna Schepartz in regards to her recent selection to present two notable lectures. In October of last year, both the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the Gordon Research Conferences Organization (GRCO) contacted Schepartz.
The ACS awarded Schepartz the inaugural Chemical Biology Lectureship to be delivered at its annual meeting, and the GRCO awarded her the Alexander M. Cruickshank Lectureship to be presented at its Biopolymers Conference. Both lectures reflect excellence in research.
A member of Yale’s Chemistry Department, Schepartz is a leader in the field of chemical biology, a subject bridging organic chemistry and biology. Specifically, according to Schepartz, “chemical biology is comprised of two types of investigation” – one allowing organic chemists to design chemicals to address biological functions and the other drawing upon examination of natural biological processes to inspire chemists.
Schepartz herself has taken diverse approaches to chemical biology, as evidenced by her major research interests: miniature proteins, beta-peptides, and fluorescent probes. As Schepartz explains, an underlying theme unifies this eclectic set of research paths: “to discover new classes of molecules that have unique functions” not designed by nature.
To Schepartz, the two lectureships bring with them several opportunities. Primarily, she says that these lectures are a chance for Yale to attract graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, expanding the department. In addition, she thinks the lectureships are “fun for all involved, especially the students who get to hear about their research,” as well as for herself and the other scientists in the audience.
Finally, aside from chances to engage in scientific discussion, both lectureships reflect the chemical and biophysical communities’ recognition of Schepartz and the interdisciplinary nature of her field of expertise: chemical biology.