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Chemist Proulx Receives NSF CAREER Award

Caroline Proulx and a student work in a chemistry lab

Caroline Proulx, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at NC State, has received a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award, also known as the NSF CAREER award, is one of the highest awards the foundation bestows upon young faculty in the sciences.

The five-year award will support Proulx’s research project entitled “Synthesis of Functional Biomolecules From Tunable N-Aryl Peptide Precursors.” The project will pursue fundamental research in bioorganic chemistry, with a focus on developing new methods for the synthesis of peptide and protein mimic libraries.

Peptides play vital roles in modulating biological function. Their ability to bind to their targets with high affinity and selectivity depends on both their chemical composition and conformation. As such, tools to rapidly modify and control both are required to streamline drug discovery efforts. This project will develop novel methods to achieve these goals. In the longer term, this work seeks to lay the groundwork for the establishment of structure-folding-function rules for this new class of peptide and protein mimics for chemical biology and medicinal chemistry applications.

Broader impacts of the project will include continued mentoring and training of American Chemical Society Project SEED high school students and NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates students during the summer, as well as educational presentations in high schools across North Carolina. Proulx’s team will produce virtual lab tours and other videos in collaboration with the Science House at NC State.

Proulx received her B.Sc. in biopharmaceutical sciences and medicinal chemistry from the University of Ottawa in 2007 and her Ph.D. in chemistry from the Université de Montréal in 2012. She joined the NC State faculty in 2016.

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