Next science symposium to feature FMU graduate

Pratik Patel, Staff Writer

Dr. Leslie Lovelace, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of South Carolina, will be presenting “Asymmetric Inhibition of Human Thymidylate Synthase” at the Science Symposium held on Thursday, Sept. 29 in LSF L102 at 4 p.m.

“I will be talking about enzyme kinetics, DNA synthesis pathways, and protein crystallography,” Lovelace said.

Lovelace explained that protein crystallography is “crystallization of proteins followed by subjection to a synchrotron X-ray source and subsequent structure determination.”

Lovelace, whose primary interests lie in drug design, earned an undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry from Francis Marion in 1990 and 1994, respectively. Lovelace earned a master’s degree in analytical chemistry in 1997 and a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 2005 from the University of South Carolina.

“I am interested mainly in structure-based drug design using protein crystallography as the main tool and kinetic assays as a supplemental tool,” Lovelace said. “Based on the three-dimensional structure of the proteins, we design lead compounds that go on to become drugs.”

Lovelace said that physics is essential to the research.

“We rely a lot on physics, but the computers handle it all,” Lovelace said.

Lovelace gathers data through enzyme kinetic assays measured using UV-VIS spectroscopy and protein crystallography. The Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Ill. is used to gather the protein crystallography data.

Lovelace said that her talk is geared towards  scientists who are familiar with research, as well as those who are not, namely, students.

“Students will be introduced to an area of research that may not be well known to them already,” Lovelace said. “This would broaden their knowledge of research possibilities.”

Lovelace said that whenever she asked whether or not an experiment was worth doing or not, Lukasz Lebioda, her research advisor would respond, “The only bad experiment is the one you do not do.”

Dr. Jennifer Kelley, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, encourages science students to attend the symposium.  She said that she believes students will realize how the sciences coincide.

“Her talk will be about biochemistry and it’s fairly specific, but it is a good way for students to see how chemistry and biology overlap in a research arena,” Kelley said.

“She is an alum from both biology and chemistry,” Kelley said. “She will be able to speak both ‘languages’ and might have insights for individuals about what they might want to do with a degree in those areas.”

Lovelace’s abstract for the talk and a list of upcoming speakers is available on the Science Symposium’s web site.