The Analytical and Surface Chemistry Program in the Division of Chemistry makes this Career award to Smith College to investigate the role of polysaccharides in biofilm formation. With this award, Professor Kate Queeney will use surface sensitive in situ techniques, such as infrared and Raman spectroscopy, to probe molecular-level interactions that govern the complex adsorption behavior of polysaccharides. Studies will initially center on adsorption of the bacterial polysaccharide xanthan to flat silicon-based substrates tailored to provide a range of microscopic and macroscopic properties. The approach will be extended to other polysaccharides chosen to highlight specific structural properties that influence adsorption and to high surface area materials which more closely mimic environmentally-relevant porous media. An eventual aim is to investigate interactions of polysaccharides with proteinaceous conditioning films active in biofilm formation. Professor Queeney will also implement programs aimed at increasing the participation, retention and success of underrepresented students in chemistry. She will address issues related to inclusiveness and mathematics preparedness using a three tiered approach carried out through both classroom teaching and laboratory research.
Surface analytical techniques, primarily surface vibrational spectroscopy, will be applied to study of the role of polysaccharide adsorption in biofilm formation. Professor Queeney's work will draw links between adsorption on idealized, flat substrates and on high surface area materials important in filtration applications. The project will enhance understanding of the intermolecular forces that influence macromolecular adsorption. The education plan will provide learning and mentoring opportunities to enhance the involvement and preparedness of young women students in the physical sciences with attention to the retention and success of underrepresented minority women.