AMES LABORATORY YOUNG CHEMIST HONORED

For release: July 3, 2008

Contacts: 
Mei Hong, 515-294-3521
Kerry Gibson, 515-294-1405

AMES LABORATORY YOUNG CHEMIST HONORED

Mei Hong recognized by Iota Sigma Pi Chemistry Honor Society

AMES, Iowa – Mei Hong, a chemist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory was honored as a recipient of the Agnes Fay Morgan Award by Iota Sigma Pi Honor Society for Women in Chemistry during the Society’s 29th Triennial Convention June 26-29 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Morgan Award is presented annually to a woman age 40 or under in the field of chemistry or biochemisty and consists of $500, a certificate, and membership in Iota Sigma Pi with a waiver of dues for one year. Hong was chosen for the award in 2006, but because the Society formally meets only every third year, she was among the three award recipients recognized at this year’s convention.

Hong grew up in China and attended Fudan University in Shanghai for two years before completing her undergraduate study at Mount Holyoke College, graduating summa cum laude in Chemistry in 1992. She pursued graduate work at UC Berkeley, working in the laboratory of Professor Alexander Pines to study the dynamic conformation of phospholipids and liquid crystals using solid-state NMR. After obtaining her Ph.D. in 1996, she spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at MIT, working with Professor Robert Griffin to develop new NMR techniques to determine protein conformation.

In 1997 Hong joined the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst as a Research Assistant Professor, where she combined new multidimensional solid-state NMR techniques and biosynthetic labeling of proteins to achieve resonance assignment and measure multiple torsion angles in highly isotopically labeled solid proteins.

In 1999 Hong joined the faculty of Iowa State University, where she is now a professor of chemistry. Her research centers on the application and development of solid-state NMR spectroscopy to the investigation of the three-dimensional structure and dynamics of membrane proteins and fibrous protein polymers. Various antibiotic and antimicrobial membrane proteins are studied to determine their membrane-binding topology, their oligomeric state, and their dynamic conformational changes, with the goal of designing better antibiotic drugs with tailored selectivity and potency. The conformational distribution of elastin-mimetic proteins is also investigated to understand the structural basis for elasticity.

Hong has won a number of awards for her innovative biophysical NMR research, including the National Science Foundation POWRE and CAREER awards, the BeckmanYoung Investigator Award, the American Chemical Society Award for Pure Chemistry, a Research Innovation Award from the Research Corporation, a Sloan Foundation Fellowship, the Mary Lyon Award from the Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College, and an Early Achievement in Research from Iowa State University. She serves as an excellent role model for students by teaching a wide variety of undergraduate courses, juggling family responsibilities with a successful career, and serving as the faculty advisor for the Society for Chemistry Undergraduate Majors.

Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory operated for the DOE by Iowa State University. The Lab conducts research into various areas of national concern, including the synthesis and study of new materials, energy resources, high-speed computer design, and environmental cleanup and restoration .

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