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Crystallography Facility Beams in on New Lines of Research

Jeanette Krause, director of the UC Crystallography Facility, conducts research in one of UC's "hidden gems."

Date: 9/1/2007
By: Britt Kennerly
Phone: (513) 556-8577
Photos By: Melanie Cannon
A junior-high science class and a "wonderfully dedicated teacher" turned Jeanette Krause on to the idea of a career in chemistry.
Now, the 17-year University of Cincinnati veteran and research associate pursues those possibilities in Crosley Tower, in a fascinating facility she considers one of UC's "hidden gems."

She is the director of the Crystallography Facility, housed in the Department of Chemistry. Completely rebuilt in 2003, as a result of an National Science Foundation-MRI grant, it is outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment to do single crystal analyses. And tucked away in a corner – the bottle that held the celebratory wine shared when work on the facility was completed, back in April 2003.

Jeanette Krause
Jeanette Krause is director of the UC Crystallography Facility.

In technical terms, Krause explains, crystallography is the "ultimate structural method that allows one to obtain very accurate and precise interatomic distance and angle information as well as three-dimensional spatial details of molecules."

"The crystallographic experiment can best be compared to medical imaging techniques," she states. "Namely, using X-ray diffraction images and contouring methods, we can distinguish atom types and determine bonding patterns in molecules that make up the materials around us. This process can be equated to tissue identification and skeletal connectivity determination used in hospitals and other medical facilities."

What does this mean for researchers?

"We are able to analyze a crystalline sample and a) determine what it is made of at the atomic level and b) visualize the size and shape of the components of the material," Krause says. "As you can imagine, this is very beneficial in many areas of research. Two examples that readily come to mind – the pharmaceutical industry uses the technique to study potential drug candidates and how they might interact with proteins in the body. Being able to correlate the structure of molecules with physical properties of a material is very important in such fields as energy, engineering and nanotechnology."

Earlier this year, Krause’s beamline proposal to Advanced Light Source (ALS), Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, was the highest scored submission, allowing for experiments to be performed from February through December 2007 at the synchrotron source.

"The beamline access has given me the chance to expand the research avenues for faculty and students at UC," she says. "It has also given me the opportunity to provide access to technology that smaller institutions we collaborate with would never be able to use. Thus, the scientific and educational impact extends well beyond the borders of our campus."

Born in Cleveland and raised in Utica, Mich., Krause remembers her first forays into science. "In those days, science courses were the realm of high schools and took on the form of a lecture," she recalls. "However, in the school I attended they tried something new – introduction of a science course with hands-on experiments performed by the students."

The second and most important factor in her career choice: her family’s philosophy that "an education is the most important thing that a person can have," she adds. "Although highly business-oriented, my family always encouraged my love of science and my desire to study chemistry."

The Crystallography Facility was updated in 2003.

A member of the American Crystallographic Association, Pittsburgh Diffraction Society and American Chemical Society, Krause finds professional society involvement essential to remain current in one's career field.

"Additionally, it is a good networking and social mechanism – bringing together people with a common interest and goal," she says.

To sum it all up? "The best and most rewarding aspect of my job as the departmental crystallographer is the interaction with the students, both graduates and undergraduates," Krause says. "I really enjoy making a contribution to the various research and educational projects that members of the chemistry department are involved in."


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