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Nelson Knudsen '12
2011-2012 Honors Student

Nelson KnudsenName: Nelson Knudsen '12
Honors in: Biochemistry
Hometown: Charlestown, RI
Major: Biochemistry

Title of project: Identification of base preferences of DNA-binding by a novel anti-tumor active dirhodium compound

Project advisors: Drs. Stephen and Shari Dunham

Abstract or brief description: The aim of my project is to identify and characterize the structure of adducts formed between DNA bases (A,C,G,T) and a dirhodium compound. Insight into the binding preferences of this compound will help to improve the structure of the compound and understand its anti-tumor properties.

How did you get interested in your topic? I am very interested in studying the interactions of environmental chemicals/nutrients and signaling pathways. This project interested me simply because I would be able to learn new techniques and learn more about biological interactions of exogenous molecules.

Do you intend to research your topic further? If so, how? I will likely not continue studying rhodium compounds specifically, but I do intend to continue using mass spectrometry techniques that I have learned.

How did you benefit academically by conducting research/participating in honors? I got experience researching and thinking about experiments analytically and this has helped me to better understand concepts in many of my courses.

How has the department (or faculty advisor) prepared you for the future? Aside from many of the techniques that have given me a great basis to study biochemistry and molecular biology, I have also learned to think critically about experiments and the concepts behind science. This will be a very valuable tool in the future.

What advice do you have for other students interested in Honors? Understand that everyone has experiments or assumptions that do not turn out as planned, especially in the sciences. I would also recommend learning to take very accurate notes about your experiments and project.

My future plans: I will be enrolling in a Ph.D. program this fall studying the molecular mechanisms of obesity and metabolic diseases.