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James Keener

James KeenerI am a fourth-year chemistry student in Dr. Marty’s lab at the University of Arizona. I was born and raised in Fresno, California and received my B.S. in Chemistry from the University of California, Merced in 2015. I then moved here to Tucson performing research in the Marty Lab. Outside of lab, I enjoy hiking, games, and ultimate frisbee.

I came to the UA to further my scientific career by attending graduate school for chemistry. I had initially planned to do research in materials science, continuing from previous work I did based on solar cell devices. However, I quickly developed a passion for biochemistry working alongside Dr. Marty during my first summer in the lab. My aspirations are to continue working within exciting areas of analytical chemistry or biochemistry and become a postdoctoral researcher to further develop my skills.

This fellowship will allow me to attend a prestigious Gordon Research Conference, as well as providing me with the opportunity to present my research at the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) Sanibel conference 2021 in Florida. This is a small conference held annually by ASMS to focus on specific topics in mass spectrometry. The meeting in 2021 will be focused on mass spectrometry of membrane proteins, which is perfect for my research. I am excited to network and discuss my work with experts in my field, in addition to learning about cutting-edge research.

I hope to progress my field by contributing my research. I also mentor members of our lab with the hope that they enjoy and develop their scientific career.

My current research project is on membrane proteins, which are involved in many essential biochemical functions and make up the majority of drug targets. However, membrane proteins are difficult to study due to their localization in biological membranes where both bulk membrane properties and diverse lipid interactions can influence their structure and activity. Recently, native or nondenaturing mass spectrometry (MS) has facilitated substantial contributions towards better understanding membrane protein structure and interactions. My research employs native MS and nanodiscs, nanoscale membrane mimetics for solubilizing membrane proteins, to study the mechanism of membrane protein regulation with the long-term goal of advancing the development of therapeutics.