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SoS Colloquium: Dr. Jeffrey Erickson and Dr. Abby O’Connor

School of Science Colloquium

Date: Tuesday, April 23
Time: 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Location: Science Complex P-101

Dr. Jeffrey Erickson, Department of Biology

“From Genes to Behavior: Knockouts, Neurotransmitters, and the Development of Respiratory Control”

Abstract: All behaviors, even those that are relatively stereotyped such as the simple act of breathing, depend on functional neural circuits that are established during development. Normal development of these circuits is therefore crucial and is guided, in part, by the genetic expression of growth, survival, and transcription factors acting at specific points in time. Loss of gene expression can lead to correlated abnormalities in neural development and behavior, providing a means to explore the role of specific proteins in the genetic basis of behavior. In this talk, using the serotonin-deficient Pet-1 “knockout” mouse as an example, I will show how a loss of function approach can provide valuable insight into the requirements for normal breathing behavior in mammals. In doing so, I will highlight several recent findings from my lab that have paved the way for future studies. 


Dr. Abby O’Connor, Department of Chemistry 

“Progress Towards the Development of New Metal Catalysts for the Preparation of Plastics”

Abstract: The chemical industry is a trillion dollar per year enterprise that produces the world’s supply of polymers, pharmaceuticals, and fertilizers, all of which are important in our everyday lives. A way to lower the energy barrier for a chemical reaction and make the process more economically friendly and better for the environment is to employ a catalyst. A catalyst, typically a metal, is a reagent added in small quantities that speeds up a chemical reaction by lowering the energy barrier for the reaction and is not used up in the process. The production of most chemicals involves the use of a catalyst. One important feature of catalysis is that it adheres to the principles of Green Chemistry, where Green Chemistry is defined as the development and implementation of new chemicals or chemical processes that are safer for the population and the environment. Work in my lab contributes to this area as we search for catalysts that are more efficient. In particular, we are interested in preparing new catalysts to be used in polymerization reactions. Synthesis, characterization, and reactivity of new nickel and palladium complexes will be highlighted in this presentation.