Structural Science: New Ways to Teach the Next Generation (Part 1)

Conference: 2020: 70th ACA Annual Meeting
08/05/2020: 12:00 PM  - 3:00 PM 


Opening Remarks

12:00 PM - 12:10 PM 

Macromolecular X-ray Crystallography in the Undergraduate Curriculum

12:10 PM - 12:35 PM 
Though macromolecular x-ray crystallography has long been the primary method for protein and nucleic acid structure solution, the technique is often first introduced at the graduate level. However, macromolecular structures are encountered frequently throughout the undergraduate biological sciences curriculum, but their meaning and utility are not fully realized by students. Here I will discuss strategies to integrate macromolecular x-ray crystallography at the undergraduate level. Activities to introduce students to protein x-ray crystallography utilizing freely available resources such as the RCSB Protein Data Bank and COOT will be described. Design and implementation of a semester long biochemistry lab CURE (Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience) using protein structure as the driving theme will also be discussed. 

View Abstract 140


Krystle McLaughlin Poughkeepsie, NY 

Crystallography in the High School Classroom.

12:35 PM - 1:00 PM 
Scientific research is a journey, a passionate journey of exploration and discovery. The spark that ignites this journey is different for each scientist, but often is started by a teacher or professor. Protein crystallography is a difficult, long journey – from crystallization reactions through resolving a structure –and it requires remarkable passion for exploration and discovery. Training the next generation is problematic as crystallography is a difficult field to break into, and even harder to achieve success in. The SPARK program (Student Partnerships for Advanced Research and Knowledge), a collaboration of several Long Island high schools and Brookhaven National Laboratory, is a student-led crystallography program, which provides a unique opportunity to spark that passion for discovery; and it provides a realistic expectation of success, failure, and the work involved. To inspire the next generation, we have students design scientifically accurate projects, interpret results, and look beyond easy answers to think critically about their research. Everything is hands-on experimentation, in contrast to ineffectual rote memorization. Students perform every step, from crystallization and fishing to x-ray diffraction and data analysis. More importantly, student results spark scientific curiosity and an appreciation for the exciting fields of crystallography and structural biology. 

View Abstract 196


Daniel Williams, Shelter island Union Free School District Shelter Island, NY 

Coffee Break

1:00 PM - 1:20 PM 

X-ray Lite: A 1-Credit Pass/Fail Crystallography Course

1:20 PM - 1:45 PM 
Single-crystal X-ray structure determination is a critical component to research programs in many science and engineering fields. Unlike other chemical characterization techniques that are commonly presented in considerable depth in undergraduate degree programs, most students receive, at best, a cursory overview of the theory of X-ray crystallography and usually zero practical experience. Whereas X-ray crystallography remains the "gold standard" of chemical structural characterization, students preparing to enter sub-disciplines where crystallography is used are at a disadvantage without at least some exposure to its underlying theory and practical methodology. X-ray Lite provides this exposure in a manner that includes hands-on "cradle-to-grave" analysis of crystalline samples, which may have originated in their own research laboratories or may be provided by the instructor. The target audience is students who use crystallography as a tool in their research and who submit samples to the Virginia Tech X-ray Service Center for analysis but are not interested in performing their own data collection and structure analysis. We thank the support of the National Science Foundation under CHE-1726077 for purchase of the diffractometer used in the hands-on portion of this course. 

View Abstract 220


Carla Slebodnick, Dept of Chemistry, Virginia Tech Blacksburg, VA 

Summer schools for magnetic crystallography and neutron diffraction

1:45 PM - 2:10 PM 
Since it is not typically part of the syllabus for crystallagraphy courses, the topic of neutron diffraction can nicely be supplemented through summer schools. Even less discussed is a special application of neutron diffraction in the area of magnetism. I will discuss the summer schools that I have participated in aimed at graduate students and even post-doctoral research associates. The audience can be diverse including chemists, materials scientists and physicists, and this variety in background can pose a particular challenge for selecting the right level of background material. I will discuss the two different methods for teaching how to solve magnetic structures using neutron diffraction. 

View Abstract 315


Efrain Rodriguez, University of Maryland College Park, MD 

Molecular Storytelling for Structural Biology Outreach and Education

2:10 PM - 2:35 PM 
Knowledge about the structure and function of biomolecules continues to grow exponentially, enabling us to "see" structural snapshots of biomolecular interactions and functional assemblies. At PDB-101, the educational portal of the RCSB Protein Data Bank, we have taken a storytelling approach to make this body of knowledge accessible and comprehensible to a wide community of students, educators and the general public. For 20 years, the Molecule of the Month series has utilized a traditional illustrated storytelling approach that is regularly adapted for classroom instruction. Similar visual and interactive storytelling approaches are used to present topical subjects at PDB-101, and full curricular materials for building a detailed narrative around topics of particular interest. This emphasis on storytelling led to the Video Challenge for High School students, now in its 7th year. In this workshop, I will present some of the lessons we have learned for teaching and communicating structural biology using the PDB archive of biomolecular structures. PDB-101 and the RCSB PDB are funded by the National Science Foundation (DBI-1832184), the US Department of Energy (DE-SC0019749), and the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under grant R01GM133198. 

View Abstract 130


David Goodsell, The Scripps Research Institute La Jolla, CA 

Additional Author(s)

Shuchismita Dutta, RCSB Protein Data Bank Piscataway, NJ 
Maria Voigt, RCSB Protein Data Bank Piscataway, NJ 
Christine Zardecki, Rutgers Proteomics, RCSB Protein Data Bank Piscataway, NJ 
Stephen Burley, RCSB Protein Data Bank, Rutgers University Piscataway, NJ 


2:35 PM - 3:00 PM