Assistant chemistry Professor Jeffrey Bode recently received a$40,000 grant from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Awards Program for his research in the synthesis of organic molecules.
Bode’s research involves the development of small organic molecules that are capable of dramatically changing into many different structures. He also works to develop chemical reactions needed to artificially create proteins’ amino acids. Both these projects, if successful, could provide modern science with tools for the prevention and treatment of disease.
“Drug development starts by getting your hands on the protein and then finding a drug that reacts with that protein or inhibits that protein,” Bode said.
Bode won the award in July but was not awarded the grant money until September. This fall, Bode formed a research team that consists of five UCSB students who are all studying organic chemistry. Four of these are graduate students and one is a third-year undergraduate. In addition to helping Bode with his work, they also assisted Bode with the creation of his new research lab.
As a first-year faculty member, Bode said he made the decision to teach instead of focusing solely on his research. Bode said he believes that by teaching he is presented with the opportunity to directly contribute to future students’ experience in the field of organic chemistry. He also said he thought it was important to instill an inquisitive nature in students that can help them formulate their own solutions.
“He desires his students to think through a problem. In order to acquire the correct answer he prods one towards it without taking away the student’s opportunity to discover it himself,” said Stephanie Sohn, a Ph.D. graduate student and one of the five students in Bode’s research team.
Bode said he became interested in organic chemistry after working in a research group while he was an undergraduate at Trinity University in San Antonio. At the time he was a literature and philosophy major. Following the completion of an introductory chemistry course, Bode said he was motivated by his experience with a professor, Michael Doyle, to join Doyle’s research group for the summer.
In 1996, Bode began his graduate work at the California Institute of Technology. In 1998, he moved to Zurich, Switzerland to study at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology with his research advisor, Erick Carreira. Once there, he proceeded to complete his doctorate in 2001. That same year, he began his postdoctoral fellowship with Japan Society for the Promotion of Science in Tokyo, Japan.
This is Bode’s first quarter with UCSB in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Dept. and he currently teaches Chemistry 119. Bode said he chose to become a part of the faculty at UCSB because he considered it a school whose reputation was growing academically.
Bode said he is impressed by the Chemistry and Biochemistry Dept. and its students. The graduate students’ projects and research also appealed to him. As a former California resident, his preference for the climate was also a factor, he said.
As a recipient of the Camille Dreyfus New Faculty Award, Bode is awarded the $40,000 during his first year as a professor. Thus far, he has used the money to hire the students in his research group and to pay for basic office supplies. He has also purchased equipment for his laboratory such as chemicals, glassware, vacuum pumps and rotovaps.
“Organic chemistry requires tools specific to the research,” Sohn said. “Unfortunately, research can be quite consuming. A flow of money is essential to assuring that the research will continue.”
It is not an award every new professor in the country wins. Depending on the annual number of applicants, 15 candidates are typically chosen to receive the Camille Dreyfus New Faculty Award. Candidates must be in their first year as full-time faculty members, and, with a few exceptions, they must not have had over three years of postdoctoral experience.
The nomination procedure includes letters of nomination from the institution or department chair of each candidate’s department, a summary of the candidate’s research and a r