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Outreach & Education

Advanced Chemical Biology Lab (CHEM 5750)

This lab is formatted as a course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) in which students have the opportunity to carry out experiments aimed at contributing new knowledge to the scientific field.  Experiments thus far have focused on bioorthogonal reactions and biomolecular labeling, but the research topics explored by the class will continue to evolve to address new opportunities in the field of chemical biology.  Students who complete the course have the opportunity to continue the research project as members of the Heemstra lab.  As an end goal of each year’s lab, we seek to published the accumulated data in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. 

This project is graciously funded by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement Cottrell Scholars Program, the National Science Foundation, and the University of Utah.

Chemical Biology of Proteins and Nucleic Acids (CHEM 7430)

The field of chemical biology has produced a number of transformative technologies in which the tools of chemistry are used to manipulate, engineer, and study biomolecules and biological systems.  This course allows students to learn about these technologies by diving into the primary research literature.  At the end of the course, each student delivers an oral presentation in which they critically analyze one paper from the recent chemical biology literature.

Honors Organic Chemistry blog project 

As part of Honors Organic Chemistry (CHEM 2311), students complete an independent project in which they identify a peer-reviewed research article that relates to their own interests, then compose a blog entry that outlines how they found the article, how they went about reading and understanding the article, and their analysis of the research presented in the article.  This assignment provides each student with the opportunity to learn about chemistry research as it relates to their individual interests.  The blog entries are publicly available at 

University of Utah ACCESS Program

The College of Science ACCESS program targets academically talented women who have an interest in pursuing STEM careers, and provides them with an integrated classroom and research experience to jump-start their college careers. My group and I annually teach a 1-week summer laboratory module for this program that is focused on “Urban legends of drug testing.” This curriculum allows students to explore the chemistry and biology behind antibody-based diagnostics, specifically focusing on the chemical interactions of antibodies that give rise to false positive or false negative results. As the capstone of this week-long curriculum, each team of students is paired with a mentor from the Heemstra group and given the opportunity to design an experiment of their own using the available materials. 

Last Updated: 6/3/21