Dr. Chris Bender
email@example.com Phone (718) 817 - 4460, Fax (718) 817 - 4432
JMH 636 (office), 602 and 640 (labs)
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)
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.