Physical Chemistry Seminar (Adam Smith, University of Akron)

March 30, 2017 - 01:00 PM - 02:00 PM

Biography Adam W. Smith was born in Texas and grew up in Utah. He was an undergraduate at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where he did in research on the gas phase electronic spectroscopy of diatomic metal carbides with Michael Morse. He then entered the chemistry PhD program at MIT and joined the lab of Andrei Tokmakoff. His thesis research was to investigate the structure and dynamics of proteins and peptides with femtosecond 2D IR spectroscopy. After graduating in 2008, Adam moved to UC Berkeley to do postdoctoral work with Jay T Groves. There he focused on problems in membrane biophysics and cell signaling using a wide range of advanced fluorescence microscopy methods including two-photon imaging, patterned photoactivation, single molecule imaging, photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM), and pulsed interleaved excitation fluorescence cross-correlation spectroscopy (PIE-FCCS). After his postdoc, Adam was a visiting scientist at the National University of Singapore and then briefly employed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In 2012 he started his own lab at the University of Akron, where he is currently an Assistant Professor of Chemistry.


 The plasma membrane is the boundary between a cell and its surroundings. At the membrane, cells present an array of protein receptors that process environmental cues. The spatial and temporal arrangement of these receptors is critical to function, but the chemical forces driving this organization are not well understood. Membrane protein dimerization, for example, is a key regulator of many receptor pathways, but its role in others is still controversial or completely unknown. Assembly of receptor complexes upon ligand stimulation is central to many signaling pathways, but the kinetics and thermodynamics of the assembly process are still poorly understood. Lipids in the membrane have been hypothesized to play many structural and regulatory roles in receptor activation, but the details of the lipid-protein interface are still largely unexplored because of experimental difficulties. I will describe two ongoing projects in my group. In the first project we investigate membrane protein interactions in live cells using PIE-FCCS and related methods. These efforts have led to several key insights into the organization and activation mechanism of receptors like plexins, growth factor receptors, and visual photoreceptors. The second project is to resolve the details of lipid-protein coupling in model membranes to build a more complete picture of the chemical landscape that governs cell communication.


Lynch Lecture Hall Chemistry Complex


inquires please contact Rosa M. Vargas

Department of Chemistry

231 S. 34 Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6323

215.898.8317 voice | 215.573.2112 fax |