Queen's University

Scientists awarded for Excellence in Research to present public lectures

 
2012-03-12

Two scientists have received the Queen’s Prize for Excellence in Research for the impact they’ve made in their respective fields.

Zongchao Jia’s (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) research into bacteria helps make drinking water safer and organic chemist Victor Snieckus (Chemistry) has made major discoveries in the area of molecule synthesis, leading to anti-AIDS and anti-inflammatory drugs and grain crop protecting agents.

Dr. Jia is a Killam Research Fellow and the Canada Research Chair in Structural Biology.

His research group has determined that certain bacteria, including E. coli, have evolved by making an enzyme called AceK in order to survive under nutrient-deficient conditions. By revealing, AceK’s three-dimensional structure, Dr. Jia’s group has gained understanding into how this enzyme works and how intervention strategies can be explored to lock AceK in the high-nutrient state, thereby reducing the bacteria’s chance to survive under low-nutrient conditions such as in drinking water.

Dr. Snieckus (Chemistry) holds the Alfred Bader Chair in Organic Chemistry and director, Snieckus Innovations, a new Queen's initiative in its Industrial Park. He is internationally recognized for major technologies in how molecules are assembled and assisting pharmaceutical and agrochemical industry in development of new drugs and crop-yield enhancing agents.

Much of his work is related to boron, which he calls “the chemical element of the 21st century.” Boron compounds, in addition to being useful in synthesis of pharmaceuticals, are used as antifungal agents, detergents, in bulletproof vests, in emergency shutdown systems for nuclear reactors, and are now being developed as light-emitting devices and semi-conductors.

“The highest form of recognition from Queen’s for research conducted at the university is reflected in the Prize for Excellence in Research, where outstanding individuals are recognized by their peers,” says Steven N. Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “This is the opportunity to recognize on an annual basis the outstanding accomplishments of our leading researchers and the work they have conducted at Queen’s that has led to significant discoveries, scholarly achievement  and important innovations.

“The contributions of the 2011 winners, Drs. Jia and Snieckus, to the fields of biochemistry and structural biology, and synthetic organic chemistry, respectively, have far-reaching impact and advance the reputation of Queen’s as a world-class research-intensive university.”

The two scientists are presenting public lectures this month.

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