ChemSem blog 6
Ben Brandsen was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received his biochemistry BS degree from Calvin College. He is now a graduate student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in the Department of Chemistry. He worked with several professors, focusing on topics such as, the conformational effects of intermolecular hydrogen bonding, the identification and development of DNA catalysts to cleave peptide bonds and his most recent study using DNA as a catalyst for chemical reactions.
He was well prepared for the presentation, and attributed to a very relaxed environment through the way he carried himself. He wasn’t dressed in a suit and tie, but neither was his wardrobe in appropriate. It allowed him to connect with the audience more, creating the environment that his just like us. He also relayed the topic in a very understandable way, which was really impressive seeing that DNA catalyst behavior is a very complex topic, which makes it even harder to explain in simple terms. Due to his enthusiasm for his work he was bale to capture our attention and keep us interested, intriguing but never totally confusing.
His main focus was determining DNA’S ability to behave as a catalyst in reactions that cleave a protein. I learned a lot of new things about DNA, and its capabilities. The first being DNAzymes, which is the term used in his presentation to describe the catalytic DNA molecules that have the ability to transform a molecule. That’s interesting because DNA is usually just known for providing the your genetic code. I learned that DNAzymes are not produced in the body, but only in the laboratory, so this is something that has to be manually synthesized. I also learned that through this DNA catalytic behavior we are allowing DNA to do another job or operate in a separate way.