Dr. Karplus 2

The MRF Discovery Award recognized P. Andrew Karplus, Ph.D., whose contributions to biomedical research include landmark discoveries about the structure-function relationship of a diverse array of proteins, many of which are important to the understanding of problems in human health and agriculture.

Guided by the view that we can better understand what we can see, Dr. Karplus has focused his career on determining the three-dimensional structures of proteins, which he then weaves together with chemical and evolutionary considerations to determine how proteins carry out their functions.

He has made a number of seminal contributions to his field.  A landmark discovery was the 2003 “floodgate signaling” hypothesis he developed with Leslie Poole, Ph.D., that certain peroxide-degrading enzymes known as peroxiredoxins serve as switches that control cell signaling.  This hypothesis has strongly influenced research on aging, cancer and obesity-related diseases.

Dr. Karplus was Assistant and then Associate Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology at Cornell University.  He was a visiting professor at Oregon State University in the mid 1990s before joining the faculty full-time as an Associate Professor and then Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics.  He served as department chair from 2007-2010.

Ahern Hall of Fame

Dr. Kevin Ahern holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Oregon State University and is currently the Director for Undergraduate Research and a Senior Instructor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

Kevin’s immensely popular Biochemistry courses are well known at OSU and his students clearly benefit from his passion for and dedication to – the subject.  It’s not only OSU students, though, who are benefitting from his passion and dedication.

Kevin recorded his lectures along with his more than 100 biochemistry-related songs set to popular music and made them openly available to the World through his own YouTube channel.

In addition, he co-authored, with Indira Rajagopal, the textbook, “Biochemistry Free and Easy,” which he also made Open Access.  The open textbook now has more than fifty thousand downloads and the videos are closing in on the two million views mark.

We’re thrilled Dr. Ahern agreed to also make this work Open Access via the OSU Libraries and Press digital repository, Scholars Archive@OSU. View Library Page.

Anantnoor (Ana) Brar tiny

Ana, a senior in Biochemistry and Biophysics, is a member of the University Honors College.  An outstanding student, Ana has carried out undergraduate research in the laboratory of Dr. John Hays since early in her freshman year.  She won the top presenter award at OSU’s Celebrating Undergraduate Excellence event in 2012.  At the national level, Ana has won the prestigious McKnight Prize, for outstanding undergraduate researchers in biological chemistry.

In addition to her academic accomplishments, Ana has an exceptional record of service to OSU.  She has been active in the Honors Activities and Advisory Council of the UHC and in the UHC Council.  Ana serves as Vice President for Service in the Mortar Board Senior Honor Society at OSU, and is a member of the Board of Directors for the OSU Alumni Association.  She is also an Ambassador for the College of Science.

Deepthika Ennamuri tiny

Deepthika is a junior majoring in Biochemistry and Biophysics, with minors in Chemistry and Psychology.  An Honors student with an excellent academic record, Deepthika’s achievements are not limited to the classroom. Early in her college career, Deepthika carried out a bioinformatics project on the reannotation of Phytophthora genomes.  She subsequently moved on to do research on the neuroprotective effects of vitamin E and its role in recovery from spinal cord injuries. She serves as an ambassador for both the College of Science and for the Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and the Arts program.  She is an INTO Conversant Program Volunteer and an International Classroom Teaching Assistant. Deepthika has also, for the past two years, served as the lead editor for the undergraduate research journal, The Catalyst. This year, she is President of the OSU chapter of the Mortar Board Senior Honor Society.  She also serves as vice president of Phi Kappa Phi, and of the Biochemistry undergraduate club.


Linus Pauling won the 1954 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his description of the chemical bond that holds protein molecules together.  Now an undergraduate researcher at Oregon State University where Pauling did his own undergrad work, is prompting scientists to take a hard look at that model.  Pauling described the connection between protein building blocks, known as the peptide bond, as an arrangement of six atoms that essentially are all on the same plane.  It was ground breaking insight that helped launch the field of molecular biology and has shaped scientific understanding of protein structure for the past six decades.

But Justin Biel, working with professor Andy Karplus, analyzed information from a databank of protein structures and found a large number of proteins that deviated from Pauling’s planar model. (Read more)


Lanelle Connolly was recently honored with the 2013 College of Science Outstanding Faculty Research Assistant Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize outstanding job performance and contributions by those in the College who have chosen a career as a Faculty Research Assistant or Associate. The criteria used by the selection committee include exceptional job performance innovativeness in work, scholarly publications, and evidence of continued professional growth.

Lanelle was honored for her exemplary work in research and for her role as an outstanding ambassador for the University. In particular, Lanelle has pioneered work with a new organism in the lab, the fungus Fusarium graminearum, which serves as a model for human stem cell or cancer biology. Because of her work, the Freitag lab can now use this genetic system to aid mechanistic work in human cells.

Beckman High Res Photo 2Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, affects motor neuron cells in the spinal cord.

At Oregon State University’s Environmental Health Sciences Center, ALS is an item of interest for student and faculty researchers.


“It’s a progressive, paralytic disease,” said 2013 Distinguished Professor Joe Beckman.


Beckman talked about the importance of research yesterday in his lecture: “Why study ALS at OSU?”


“Imagine six months from now I’m in a wheelchair and I can only blink with one eye and I now weigh 90 pounds with my shoulder dislocated because I won’t have enough muscle mass left,” Beckman said.


Motor neurons start to die at a very rapid rate, gradually weakening muscles and causing individuals to lose control of voluntary muscle movements.


The progressive degeneration of motor neurons eventually leads to death, according to the ALS Association.


Around 3,000 new cases of ALS are diagnosed every year in the United States.  (read more)



Maria Nguyen tiny

Maria Nguyen is a senior in Biochemistry and Biophysics.  She has been continuously involved in research since her first term in college.  At the end of her sophomore year, she won a competitive national award, the HHMI EXROP fellowship, that took her to the University of California at San Diego for the summer.  Her work there was so impressive that she was given the fellowship for an unprecedented second time. Maria’s research has earned her co-authorship on a paper submitted to Nature Medicine.  She will also be an author on a second publication, currently in preparation.  Maria has been actively involved in the Biochemistry undergraduate club and Sigma Delta Omega, a science sorority, and serves as an Ambassador for both the College of Science and the Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and the Arts program.  She was also the 2012 President of the Mortar Board Senior Honor Society.

Kevin & Indira

Congratulations are in order for BB Professors Kevin Ahern and Indira Rajagopal.  Ahern and Rajagopal have been selected to receive the Outreach & Engagement Vice Provost Award for Excellence – Innovation Award for Open Educational Resources for their “Biochemistry Free and Easy” and other online textbooks.

The Vice Provost Awards for Excellence recognize outstanding contributions by faculty and staff that significantly advance the mission of outreach and engagement. Award winners will be recognized for their outstanding work and presented with a plaque and a team award of $1,000 at the O&E Awards for Excellence Luncheon, Wednesday, April 16, 12 – 2pm, at the CH2M Hill Alumni Center.