Susan A. White

Chemistry Department

Research Opportunities

My research program focuses on understanding an RNA-protein interaction. In yeast, ribosomal protein L30, called L32 until 1998, binds to its own transcript or to its own mature message to prevent splicing or translation. The structure (Nature password needed) of the L30 RNA complex has recently been solved and shows an intimate RNA-protein interface where the protein "invades" the RNA internal loop and RNA bases jut into the protein. Hydrophobic, stacking, and electrostatic interactions all appear to be important contributors. Techniques used in the laboratory involve preparation of RNA and protein samples and a wide variety of molecular biological and biophysical methods.

Research projects currently underway or contemplated involve

The Keck Fellow would carry out an independent project as well as playing a role in mentoring undergraduate and graduate research students. There are currently two graduate students and two seniors conducting L30-related research.


Introduction to Research

Research, publications, and photo.

Teaching Opportunities

In General Chemistry a variety of methods are used to encourage students to actively participate in their own chemical education. Chemical writing assignments, group work, course web pages, e-mail and the internet are all designed to stimulate students' creativity and problem-solving abilities. In the Fall semester I am participating in Bryn Mawr's College Seminar program and am studying Primo Levi's Periodic Table with a group of sophomores. I hope to incorporate this book into the General Chemistry syllabus when I return to teaching General Chemistry.

In Biochemistry I introduce students to the major biochemical themes of evolution, macromolecular structure, regulation, and energetics. The labs are meant to introduce the students to a research-type setting and are often derived from topics of interest to Bryn Mawr research groups and have included acetylcholinesterase kinetics, investigations of nucleic acids, and designing and making protein mutants. The Keck Fellow may contribute a new teaching laboratory exercise based on prior research. Incorporating the results of various genome projects into the biochemical curriculum is a particular challenge of interest to me.

Advanced courses in biochemistry are intended for seniors and graduate students. In these courses, I try to convince students to view science as a process (and not as the done deal it was in their introductory courses) in which they are participants. One course introduces students to biophysical and biochemical experimental methods and the primary literature by discussing various components of the HIV virus. Seminars have focused on nucleic acid chemistry and on protein folding.

The Keck Fellow would participate in a variety of teaching settings, from introductory to advanced levels during their three years. The fellow may lead a seminar in their specialty field, collaborate with other chemists or biologists in teaching an existing course, or teach portions of the courses described above.


Chemistry Faculty and Teaching Interests

General Chemistry Home Page

International Teaching Interests

Contact information

610-526-5107 (ph)

610-526-5086 (fax)