Jun 6, 2018
Teacher Scholar News
In July 2018 we will welcome two alumni as our new 2018-2021 Postdoctoral Teacher-Scholars and we will bid farewell to one of our 2016-2019 Postdoctoral Teacher-Scholars. 
 
Paul D. Boyer Teacher-Scholar Dr. Agape Awad (B.S. ’13, M.S. ’14, Ph.D. '18) and William F. Libby Teacher-Scholar Dr. Christian Beren (Ph.D. ’17) will join our Postdoctoral Teacher-Scholar instructional faculty. They were chosen from a competitive pool of many applicants. Our Postdoctoral Teacher-Scholar program allows postdoctoral scholars to experience research and teaching at the same time as a way to prepare them for future faculty positions. Awad will be mentored by Department Chair Professor Catherine F. Clarke and Beren will be co-mentored by Professors Chuck Knobler and William Gelbart. 
 
Department Chair Professor Catherine Clarke, Agape Awad, Christian Beren, and Chuck Knobler.  Not pictured is Beren’s co-mentor, William Gelbart.
 
We will soon bid farewell to Dr. Jacquelin Kammeyer (pictured left), our first 2016-2019 Boyer Teacher-Scholar, who will start a visiting lectureship position at Wellesley College in the Fall. In addition to teaching CHEM 30BL: Organic Chemistry Laboratory I with Prof. Neil Garg, Jacquelin has beem conducting research in Professor Heather Maynard's group where she has been working on the development of protein polymer conjugates for the stabilization of therapeutic proteins. 
 
Our 2016-2019 Teacher-Scholars, Dr. Shuming Chen (Cram Teacher-Scholar, Houk Group) and Dr. Zhao Li (Libby Teacher-Scholar, Lin Group) and our 2017-2020 Teacher-Scholars, Dr. Rachel Prado (Cram Teacher-Scholar, Bouchard group) and Dr. Roshini Ramachandran (Boyer Teacher Scholar, Spokoyny Group) will continue to teach undergraduate chemistry and biochemistry courses and conduct research in the 2018-2019 academic year.  
 
The Teacher-Scholar positions honor UCLA Chemistry and Biochemistry Department Nobel Laureates Paul D. Boyer, Donald J. Cram, and Willard F. Libby and recognize their many contributions to the advancement of chemistry and biochemistry. Boyer/Cram/Libby Postdoctoral Teacher-Scholars are expected to serve for three years, with the initial appointment for one year, plus the possibility of renewal annually. They are expected to teach three one-quarter undergraduate chemistry or biochemistry courses during a given academic year and will also conduct postdoctoral research with a sponsoring faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.  
 

Teacher-Scholars (front row) and their faculty mentors (back row) – (Front row) Drs. Roshini Ramachandran, Agape Awad, Christian Beren, Rachel Prado, Shuming Chen, and Zhao Li. (Back row, from left) Professors Alex Spokoyny, Catherine Clarke, Chuck Knobler, Ken Houk, Yung-Ya Li.  Not pictured are Jacqueline Kammeyer and her mentor Prof. Heather Maynard, co-mentor of Christian Beren, Prof. William Gelbart, and Prof. Louis Bouchard, mentor of Rachel Prado.
 
Agape Awad (B.S. ’13, M.S. ’14, Ph.D. '18) (Paul D. Boyer Teacher-Scholar)
Agape was born and raised in Orange County, California, where her favorite pastimes were playing basketball, teaching Sunday School, enjoying the beach, and going to nearby Disneyland as often as possible. Agape received her Bachelor’s degree from UCLA, where she studied Biochemistry and conducted undergraduate research in the laboratory of Professor Catherine F. Clarke. Her research included elucidating the effects of Deuterated Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in mitigating lipid peroxidation, as well as studies related to Huntington’s Disease and potential treatment of disease phenotypes. Agape also completed two summer internships at Edwards Lifesciences, a leading medical device and heart valve company. During her time at Edwards, Agape worked in the Quality Chemistry and Quality Biology divisions, completing quality control testing on artificial heart valves that would be used in patients, as well as completing FDA regulatory projects to validate the safety of several medical devices developed by Edwards. 
 
Agape joined the UCLA Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate program in 2013 to pursue her Ph.D., studying the Coenzyme Q biosynthetic pathway in the lab of Professor Catherine F. Clarke. During this time, Agape was involved in the discovery of a novel Coenzyme Q biosynthetic protein, later to be renamed the 11th Coenzyme Q-related polypeptide, Coq11.  In collaboration with the lab of Professor Tracy L. Johnson at UCLA, Agape investigated the effects of alternative splicing in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, especially as it relates to the regulation by phosphorylation of the high-molecular weight Coenzyme Q biosynthetic complex, termed the ‘CoQ-Synthome’. 
 
In addition to research, Agape served as a Teaching Assistant in many biochemistry and research ethics courses, instructing both undergraduate and graduate students.  Additionally, Agape mentored students in the laboratory on novel projects and served as a workshop leader and instructor for incoming freshman taking General Chemistry courses, as part of a Howard Hughes Medical Institute funded initiative led by Professor Johnson. Agape received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in June 2018.  
 
As a Paul D. Boyer Teacher-Scholar, Agape will continue her post-doctoral research in the laboratory of Professor Clarke, studying RNA, splicing, Coenzyme Q biosynthetic regulation and post-translational modification, while continuing and expanding many valuable collaborations essential for the advancement of these novel projects. She will also serve as a Professor for Introductory Biochemistry, instructing undergraduate students studying upper-division biochemistry. 
 
The UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry has established the Paul D. Boyer Teacher-Scholar Fund to honor Professor Boyer's contributions to science, UCLA, and the world. Donations to this fund will support postdoctoral research of the Boyer Teacher-Scholar and will also allow opportunities for scientific travel (e.g. conferences). To learn how to contribute, click here
 
Christian Beren (Ph.D. ’17) (William F. Libby Teacher-Scholar)
Christian grew up in Philadelphia and in his free time enjoys ice hockey, skiing and hiking. He received a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Lehigh University, and while at Lehigh he pursued research under Professor Dmitri Vezenov studying self-assembling DNA monolayers using Atomic Force Microscopy. As an undergraduate, he also spent a summer at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany, exploiting plasmonic coupling in thin metallic films to enhance their optical properties, particularly for application as molecular sensors.
 
Christian came to UCLA to pursue his Ph.D. studying the self-assembly of virus particles in the lab of Professors William Gelbart and Charles Knobler. While serving as a Teacher-Scholar, Christian will continue his work in the field of Physical Virology. In particular, Christian investigates how basic physical properties of RNA affect both the assembly and disassembly of single-stranded RNA viruses. In addition to research, Christian is involved with the CNSI outreach program at UCLA, a program that brings nanoscience experiments to Los Angeles area high schools.