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Dr. Robert Dewald, professor of chemistry

During his 48-year tenure at Tufts, Chemistry Professor Robert Dewald taught nearly 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students and served as a pillar for training undergraduates in Chem 1 and Chem 2, in addition to more advanced chemistry courses.

Professor Dewald's willingness to involve his students in research, mentor undergraduates in the sciences, or lend a helping hand to those seeking his counsel made a significant impact to the Tufts education of countless alumni.

To honor Dr. Dewald's legacy in chemistry and at the university, an endowed student research fund has been established in his name: the Robert R. Dewald Summer Scholarship Fund. This fund will provide summer stipends to students who are pursuing full-time research opportunities during the summer. Many of his students participated in such research opportunities during their years at Tufts, and today, student research has become a top priority of the president and provost.

The Robert R. Dewald Summer Scholarship Fund will make a significant impact on today's undergraduates pursuing research in chemistry and, most importantly, it will honor Dr. Dewald for generations to come. This year's recipients of the fund are Stacey Berkowitz, A14, "Chemical Analysis of Martian Meteorite Samples," and David Bass, A14 (advised by Joshua Kritzer), "Use of Combinatorial Libraries in the Development of a Sortase A Inhibitor."

Please make a gift by following the link to the Dewald Summer Scholarship Fund in the sidebar. To make sure your gift supports the fund, select "Arts and Sciences" under the "Select a School" dropdown menu, "Other" under "Select an Area", and type Dewald Summer Scholarship Fund followed by the amount of your gift.

For more information or for other methods of making a gift to the Dewald Summer Scholarship Fund, please contact Kosta Alexis in University Advancement at 617-627-4978.

The Work of the 2013 Dewald Summer Scholars

Stacey Berkowitz, A14
"Chemical Analysis of Martian Meteorite Samples"

Over the summer, Stacey closely examined meteorites from Mars that were recovered in Antarctica and Morocco, hoping to gain insight into the composition of Martian soil. Her analysis comes on the heels of a 2008 discovery by the Phoenix Mars Lander that the planet’s soil contains approximately 1% perchlorate, a substance that can create salts that lower the freezing point of water, potentially acting like an antifreeze that enables water to exist in a liquid state in subfreezing temperatures.

Stacey’s research required her to conduct ion chromatographic analysis, which involves separating ions based on their charges. Through her analysis, Stacey aimed to determine how much perchlorate was in each sample, thus gaining a greater understanding of what the soil on Mars consists of and how it came to have its present composition.

David Bass, A14
"Use of Combinatorial Libraries in the Development of a Sortase A Inhibitor"

Over the summer, David investigated a potential new method for targeting bacteria with antibiotic drugs. With bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics faster than new drugs can be developed, David aimed to examine the enzyme Sortase A, found in certain bacteria, to see if it might be a suitable target for new antibiotics. Because Sortase A is a protease, and because it is possible to inhibit some proteases with cyclic peptides, David looked at whether there is a cyclic peptide that can inhibit the function of Sortase A, which would be a promising first step in developing new antibiotics.

To do this, David spent the summer making and screening a large library of different peptides by way of a solid phase synthesis technique, assembling peptide beads from molecules in solid rather than liquid states. The method he used to assemble them is called “split and pool synthesis,” which requires splitting each resin of beads at many points in order to couple several different amino acids in the same position, and then pooling the separate pieces back together. Once he assembled his library of peptides in this way, David screened each compound to see if it could bind Sortase A directly. He then isolated those peptides that could in order to determine their sequences.