Sciencegeist: Guest Writer: Mark Peczuh

Originally posted June 5, 2013

Over the next several weeks, I am going to be hosting posts written by Mark Peczuh (pronounced PEEzee – thanks to some brilliant translation of Hungarian at Ellis Island). Mark is an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Connecticut. His research group synthesizes molecules that are used to better understand how proteins interact with sugars. In order to do this, they make sugar molecules with seven-membered rings (instead of the natural six-membered – as in glucose – or five-membered – as in fructose). Some of you may know Mark from Twitter.

Mark Peczuh (Photo Credit: UConn Chemistry)

Mark is currently on a Fulbright Fellowship in Barcelona. He is working with Toni Planas of the Institute of Chemistry of Sarria at the University of Ramon Llull. Toni is an expert in (and one of the founders of) a field that develops proteins called glycosynthases (proteins that synthesize sugars). Mark and Toni are hoping that they can coax some of the proteins (that Toni works with) to synthesize some sugars with seven-membered rings (that Mark studies).

Mark contacted me recently to see if I would host some interviews he is conducting with scientists in and around Barcelona. Mark is interested in exploring how the practice of research relates to the context of the place in which the research is being done. Of course, I jumped at the chance. I am really looking forward to seeing what Mark and his interviewees have to say! The first interview, which will be posted later this evening, is with Xavier Salvatella, and I know you’ll all enjoy it!

Also … A big congrats to Mark on being awarded (read: earning) this Fulbright Fellowship. The Fulbright is a very prestigious, and highly competitive award, meant to foster academic relationships between scholars in the U.S. and scholars in Europe. While some Fulbright’s involve both research and teaching, Mark is on a full research scholarship. This is a very exciting time for Mark, though I know he is missing his family like crazy! I wish him all the best during his fellowship!