ECU chemist's grant provides undergraduate assistance
(May 31, 2004)
An East Carolina University chemist received a $35,000 grant to research how proteins bind with some help from a nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and an undergraduate assistant.
Kwang Hun Lim, a professor in the Department of Chemistry, was among 51 scientists from across the nation who received the Cottrell College Science Award this month from the Research Corporation. The corporation, founded in 1912, awards more than $1.8 million annually to support research in astronomy, chemistry and physics at institutions that predominantly serve undergraduates.
ECU sophomore Jake Vestal, a chemistry, biochemistry and physics major, has worked with Lim on this project since the fall semester. He prepares and cleans protein samples for the NMR spectroscopy. The half-million dollar instrument, housed in ECU's chemistry department in the new Science and Technology building, enables Lim to investigate how proteins can sense their binding partners from one cell to another. The grant, which will be formally awarded in September, provides stipends for both Lim and Vestal and funds a centrifuge and special chemicals needed to use the NMR spectroscopy.
Lim, who completed his post-doctoral studies at University of California at Berkeley in 2003 before coming to ECU, also conducts research on the so-called "misfolding" of proteins which are suspected of playing a role in the development of Mad Cow and Alzheimer's diseases.
Lim said he was pleased to receive the award, but added that the true success of the project will come through in the results he hopes to produce.