Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York
 


Dr. Chris Bender

Assistant Professor

Department of Chemistry

Fordham University

Bronx, NY 10458

Dr. Chris Bender

bender@fordham.edu   Phone (718) 817 - 4460, Fax (718) 817 - 4432

JMH 636 (office), 602 and 640 (labs)

EDUCATION       

PhD ­ Chemistry, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY. 1984

BS ­ Chemistry & Biology, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg VA. 1979

VITA         Assistant Professor, Fordham University                                          1999-present.

                       Adjunct Professor, New York City Technical College (CUNY)       1998-1999.

                       Microwave Engineer, Albert Einstein College of Medicine              1989-1997.

                       Postdoctoral Research Associate, Michigan State University        1985-1989.

COURSE INFORMATION & SYLLAB

Environmental Chemistry (CHRU 1109)

Quantitative Analysis (CHRU 3721)       Instrumental Analysis (CHRU 3722)

Biochemistry I (CHRU 4221)                 Biomimetic Chemistry (CHRU 4241)

RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES

Loosely defined, my research interests concern the molecular basis of biological processes. Biological systems can, from the standpoint of a chemist, be regarded as (highly efficient) molecular machines or devices, and it is an attractive notion that chemist try to reproduce these ‘machines’ synthetically by understanding those attributes of the biological system that are salient to the chemistry of interest. The emphasis of my interests is on energy conversion, and a long-term aim is to apply the information obtained from basic physical chemistry studies to the design of so-called molecular devices. The kinds of questions asked in such a research program tend to be broad and span the conventional subdisciplines of chemistry, and therefore ongoing projects range from analytical technique development to syntheses of model compounds and novel devices to molecular physics. Relevant areas suitable for a research project:

Chemical & Molecular Evolution ­ The molecules found in biochemical systems clearly had to evolve from organic precursors and, ultimately, inorganic materials. This research program evolved from my course Biomimetic Chemistry, and it involves syntheses of organic precursor molecules and ‘primitive’ biomaterials subject to constraints imposed by geochemistry. The synthetic products of these biomimetic reactions are chemically and physically characterized and compared to biomaterials. It is hoped that by examining simple reactions of biologically relevant ‘synthons’ we can shed some light on the kinetic and thermodynamic driving forces that lead to so-called ‘motifs’ found in proteins.

Biopolymer Degradation ­ Polymeric materials, in general, degrade with time, leading to the alteration of their physical properties. In biology, enzymes degrade and must be replaced, and structural polymers (e.g. collagens) degrade in some cases in a pathological manner dystrophy. This project is in the early stages of development and its aim is to devise non-invasive spectroscopic methods of analyzing the rheology of biopolymers. Current work is focused on a comparative study of polymer fluidity using traditional methods (e.g. viscosity) and nuclear magnetic resonance. An immediate problem of interest is the rheology of corneal collagen, which in certain dystrophic disease seems to undergo distortions reminiscent of classic polymer ‘creep’. Here we are searching for evidence (e.g. increased fluidity of the polymer matrix) as to why the dystrophic cornea is prone to distortion.   

Structural Biology ­ The magnetic properties of matter reflect the electronic structure, and so measurement of magnetic spectroscopic parameters provides a picture of molecular electronic structure. Spectroscopy using frequencies extending from the far-infrared through the microwave region is being applied to enzymes and synthetic models in order to determine what types of electronic structures are optimal for so-called ‘elementary reactions’ (e.g. electron transfers) associated with energy conversion. Here classic spectroscopy is being developed as a tool for molecular design, including genetic engineering.

Environmental Chemistry ­ Projects related to the above research areas are under development for those interested in Fordham’s Environmental Studies program. Comparative biochemistry and environmental analyses are two broad areas for research. Regarding the former, a prospective   research topic in the theme of structural biology is the metabolic response of organisms to environmental stress; for example, how are the metalloproteins of the photosynthetic apparatus affected by the mineral content of the medium in which a plant grows.


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