Assistant Professor Shanen Sherrer and Colleagues Awarded St. Mary’s College’s First NSF MRI Grant

By: Michael Bruckler, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

St. Mary’s College of Maryland was awarded its first National Science Foundation (NSF) Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI) grant using lead investigator Assistant Professor of Biochemistry Shanen Sherrer’s expertise on circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy.

Geoffrey M. Bowers, assistant professor of chemistry; Randolph K. Larsen, professor of chemistry; Jessica L. Malisch, assistant professor of physiology; and Pamela S. Mertz, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, are co-PIs, with assistance from Laboratory Coordinator Doug Hovland as senior staff and collaboration with Lindsay Jamieson, associate professor of computer science, on this project.

The NSF grant provides funding for the acquisition of a CD spectrometer and accompanying equipment for faculty research and student training opportunities. The $121,819 grant started on October 1, 2019.

The acquired CD spectrometer will monitor rotational change in circularly polarized light as it passes through a sample with chirality (molecules with non-superimposable bonds like a mirror image). Most biomolecules and metal-containing complexes have at least one chiral center and thus are favored for CD spectroscopic studies in biochemistry, biology, biophysics, inorganic chemistry, materials science, and geochemistry.

The CD spectrometer will be used by faculty and undergraduate researchers for probing macromolecular structures or changes to chemical properties under specific experimental conditions to yield information on structural composition, stability, changes, and thermodynamics of targeted molecules.

The CD spectrometer planned for purchase is a high performing model with a wide range of accessories for maximum flexibility in both research and teaching applications.

The acquisition of a CD spectrometer by St. Mary’s College will significantly advance several critical research projects in the areas of biology, biochemistry, geochemistry, and environmental studies.

The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community. While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a “pay-wall” style news site.

To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether it’s a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at

Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. — David M. Higgins II

© 2019 The Southern Maryland Chronicle. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.