Liza Alexander will join Reuben Peters’ lab as a postdoctoral fellow studying molecules with medicinal applications, thanks to the inaugural Bioscience Innovation Postdoctoral Fellowship.
The fellowship was established through generous support by the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust to contribute to breakthrough science in biomedically focused research.
At Iowa State University, the Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology (BBMB); the Departments of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB); Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology (EEOB); and Chemistry serve as the center of the university’s basic biological sciences and biomedical research.
Alexander was chosen from sixty-nine applicants in these areas. The support from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust will provide a highly competitive stipend, the opportunity to work alongside highly-respected researchers, mentoring, career preparation and professional development support. Alexander will work in the lab of Reuben Peters, professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology. Research in Peters’ lab is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and investigates medicinal uses of diterpenoids, a group of molecules largely produced by plants, which have characteristics that could be used for medicinal purposes, such as antimicrobial properties.
Her work will specifically focus on determining the structures of cytochromes P450 (CYPs), which play key roles in the biosynthesis of diterpenoids. An understanding of this synthesis could lead to advancements in the biosynthesis of medicines based on diterpenoids. This major accomplishment would be a significant increase in the understanding of the structure-function relationships underlying the catalytic activity of this critical enzymatic family.
Alexander is expected to receive her Ph.D. this fall from Iowa State University, where she has been working in the lab of Basil Nikolau, professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology. She has already published three research papers and has two more in preparation. In 2016, she was the Principal Investigator on a project selected to represent the United States in the National Science Foundation’s East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute (NSF-EAPSI) Program in Japan.
Prior to beginning her doctoral work at Iowa State, she received a bachelor of science in Industrial Microbiology from the University of Kerala, Kerala, India and a master of science in Biotechnology from Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala, India.