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  • Professor Catherine L. Drennan

    Professor Catherine Drennan presents Kolthoff Lectureship, Feb. 10-12

Professor Catherine L. Drennan from the Department of Chemistry and Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will present the Kolthoff Lectureship in Chemistry, February 10-12. Her lectures include:

Professor Drennan

Catherine Drennan is a professor of chemistry and biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a professor and investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Professor Drennan’s primary research interest is the use of X–ray crystallography to study the structure and mechanism of metalloproteins. The primary targets of research in the Drennan lab are enzymes that contain metals or metallocofactors. These metalloenzymes use the enhanced reactivity of transition metals to catalyze challenging chemical reactions including radical-based chemistry and manipulation of organometallic bonds. The lab is also interested in metalloproteins that sense changes in the cellular environment and act as gene regulators. The Drennan lab also combines X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy with other techniques from biochemistry and biophysics to understand enzyme mechanisms—an approach called “structural metalloenzymology.”

Professor Drennen's educational initiatives include creating free resources for educators that help students recognize the underlying chemical principles in biology and medicine, and that train graduate student teaching assistants and mentors to be effective teacher–scholars.

Kolthoff Lectureship in Chemistry

Izaak Maurits Kolthoff was born on February 11, 1894, in Almelo, Holland. He died on March 4, 1993, in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1911, he entered the University of Utrecht, Holland. He published his first paper on acid titrations in 1915. On the basis of his world-renowned reputation, he was invited to join the faculty of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Chemistry in 1927. By the time of his retirement from the University in 1962, he had published approximately 800 papers. He continued to publish approximately 150 more papers until his health failed. His research, covering approximately a dozen areas of chemistry, was recognized by many medals and memberships in learned societies throughout the world, including the National Academy of Sciences and the Nichols Medal of the American Chemical Society. Best known to the general public is his work on synthetic rubber. During World War II, the government established a comprehensive research program at major industrial companies and several universities, including Minnesota. Kolthoff quickly assembled a large research group and made major contributions to the program. Many of Kolthoff’s graduate students went on to successful careers in industry and academic life and, in turn, trained many more. In 1982, it was estimated that approximately 1,100 Ph.D. holders could trace their scientific roots to Kolthoff. When the American Chemical Society inaugurated an award for excellence in 1983, he was the first recipient.