Professor Herbst’s major research field lies in the interdisciplinary area of molecular astronomy, which is the study of molecules throughout the universe, especially in regions in between stars known as interstellar clouds. These objects eventually collapse to form new generations of stars and planetary systems, so the molecules found in interstellar clouds are related to the molecules found in planets such as our own.


For decades, the dearomatization of arenes has been recognized as a chemical transformation of fundamental importance. It provides the connection between this robust and abundant source of hydrocarbons and the alicyclic frameworks common to many biologically active products. Thus, dearomatization methods have become powerful tools for organic synthesis.


Astrochemistry concerns the behavior of atoms and molecules in astrophysical environments, which can include star-forming clouds and cores, and circumstellar and interstellar regions. The varied gas-phase chemical compositions of these environments are revealed by radio-telescope observations of molecular spectral-line emission and absorption, primarily in the mm and sub-mm bands. Infrared observations also indicate significant solid-phase abundances of simple hydrides, in the form of ices, which coat the sub-micron sized dust grains that permeate interstellar space.


One key area in understanding bacterial cell biology is spatiotemporal phenomena: Wherewhen, and how do individual biomolecules act and interact to govern the overall physiology of the cell?  To answer this question, we develop new high-resolution imaging methods for 3D single-molecule localization in intact bacterial cells.  In particular, we combine the resolving power of the electron microscope with the single-molecule sensitivity and specificity of fluorescence-based methods.  With these tools, we can localize single biomolecules in 3D space with a precision


Research in the Fraser Lab is concerned with materials chemistry—synthesis, properties, and applications, along with environmental, health and societal impacts. While developing routes to polymeric metal complexes—well-defined hybrid inorganic-organic materials inspired by metalloproteins, combining coordination chemistry and controlled polymerization—we made two important discoveries involving luminescent boron complexes.  Difluoroboron β-diketonate dyes show intense fluorescence, 2-photon absorption, and environment sensitive emission.


The design of self-assembling nanomaterials stands as one of the great challenges in modern molecular science. The DuBay group employs theoretical and computational tools to address this challenge through investigations that lie at the intersection of soft condensed matter physics, polymer chemistry, biophysics, and nanomaterials.


Membrane proteins facilitate the transfer of information across lipid bilayers, comprise approximately 25% of a typical proteome, and represent over half of all drug targets. The membrane proteins that mediate interactions between bacterial pathogens and hosts are of particular interest to our laboratory. Invasive bacterial pathogens are responsible for many lethal diseases and epidemics, including plague and meningitis. Although these bacteria have diverse mechanisms of cellular invasion, all of the pathways rely upon interactions between host and bacterial membrane proteins.


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