Primary research subjects include catalysis and electrocatalysis for sustainable fuel synthesis and use, solar energy conversion to fuels, fundamental gas and condensed phase molecular dynamics, radiation chemistry, and advanced chemical separations for energy applications. Fundamental studies of neutrino properties are also conducted in several international collaborations in nuclear and particle physics.
Biology Department Seminar
"Blueprints for photosynthesis: The genetics and biochemistry of photosystem II assembly"
Presented by Robert Calderon, University of California, Berkley
3 pm, John Dunn Seminar Room, Bldg. 463
Thursday, November 17, 2016, 3:00 pm
Hosted by: ''Ian Blaby''
Photosystem II (PSII) is the protein-pigment complex in oxygenic photosynthesis that uses light energy to catalyze the oxidation of water. How the subunits and cofactors that make up this enzyme are properly assembled into a functional photosystem remains unknown. To uncover new components in this process, I undertook a chlorophyll fluorescence-based mutant screen in the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. One isolated mutant had no detectable PSII activity, whereas other components of the photosynthetic electron transport chain were still functional. This defect was shown to be due specifically to the absence of a gene, RBD1, encoding a thylakoid membrane-bound iron-sulfur protein known as a rubredoxin. Examination of cyanobacterial (Synechocystis) and plant (Arabidopsis) mutants lacking the homolog of RBD1 revealed PSII-specific phenotypes, supporting the hypothesis that this rubredoxin has a conserved role in PSII-containing organisms. The phylogenetic profile of the RBD1 gene led us to hypothesize that other genes involved in PSII assembly or function might show a similar phylogenetic distribution. We devised a computational approach to find these genes and preliminary results indicate that some genes found through this method might indeed be associated with PSII function or assembly.
Advances fundamental knowledge of chemical systems to convert sunlight to viable chemical fuels, inspired by natural photosynthesis, in which green plants convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbohydrates.
Pursues an improved understanding of chemical catalysis for advanced fuels synthesis and energy conversion processes by elucidating catalytically important properties of well-defined surfaces, powders and nanostructures.
Conducts research on both fundamental and applied problems relating to electrochemical energy storage systems and materials including lithium-ion, lithium-air, lithium-sulfur, and sodium-ion rechargeable batteries; electrochemical super-capacitors; and cathode, anode, and electrolyte materials.
Applies both photoexcitation and ionization by short pulses of fast electrons to investigate fundamental chemical problems relevant to the production and efficient use of energy
Develops and applies high resolution spectroscopic and quantum theoretic tools to study the structure, dynamics, and chemical reactivity of molecular species relevant to hydrocarbon combustion.
Participates in international collaborations including Low Energy Neutrino Spectroscopy (LENS), "SNO+", the Daya Bay neutrino experiment, and the long-baseline neutrino experiment (LBNE)
Works to understand the underlying physical processes that determine the products and yield of chemical transformations relevant to energy-related chemistry on catalytic and nanostructured surfaces.
Explores problems of electrocatalysis of fuel cell reactions focusing on platinum monolayer (PtML) electrocatalysts for the O2 reduction reaction, the electrocatalysts for ethanol and methanol oxidation to CO2, H2 evolution and H2 oxidation reactions.
Studies mechanisms of work of advanced functional nanomaterials by elucidating the nature of their active species by situ/operando methods of spectroscopy, scattering and imaging.
The Chemistry Division is part of Brookhaven National Laboratory's Energy & Photon Sciences Directorate.