Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., Analytical Chemistry, Vanderbilt University; B.A., Chemistry, Hanover College
Office hours: By appointment
Office: Wilkens Science Center, Room 309-K
Phone: (617) 735-9769
Chemistry is everywhere! Chemistry and chemicals make the paper (or screen) this is printed on brilliant white and the ink (or type) a deep black. It makes combustion engines run and chemical reactions are required in each step of our very complex digestive process. These molecular interactions have continually amazed me from the first time that I really learned about chemistry in high school. I believe that these exciting notions and my own excitement can get students in the door and on board with science. Understanding the principles behind everyday life is important, though there are other crucial skills that can be learned through chemistry. The most important skills that I have developed in my years as a chemistry student, laboratory researcher, and chemistry teacher are the abilities to think critically about all areas of science and to approach problem solving effectively. These skills have served me well in many aspects of life, from advanced laboratory research to understanding world issues. My philosophy is that chemists and all liberal arts students should be educated using real world examples that place an emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving. I believe that an undergraduate liberal arts education focusing in chemistry offers an ideal medium for the development of these skills and that critical thinking, not fact memorization, should be the focus of science education.
My research interests fall into three main areas: bioanalytical chemistry, biomineralization, and nanotechnology. I am primarily interested in taking analytical and chemical approaches to addressing challenges in these areas. I believe that these are three areas where significant challenges lay and where significant improvements can be made. Current projects in these areas are outlined below:
Templates for Improved Biomineralization of Hydroxyapatite. Biomaterials have been widely developed for use in a variety of healthcare applications, including biological implants and bone regeneration, though few have achieved clinical success due to the stringency of stability, toxicity, and bioactivity required. Hydroxyapatite (Ca10(PO4)(OH)2;HAP) is one biomaterial that has promise for success in this area and is therefore of great research interest. This is due to its close resemblance to the mineral phase of bone, its porosity, and excellent biocompatibility. In order to improve the success of HAP in biological devices, a fundamental understanding of biomineralization, including templated nucleation, quantitative kinetic analysis of precipitation, and control of crystallinity is required. New templates will be studied to improve the rate of biomineralization and sample crystallinity of hydroxyapatite. Reaction kinetics will be assessed quantitatively using quartz crystal microbalance (QCM). Research in this area of chemistry will expose students to kinetics, quantitative analysis, and bioinorganic concepts as well as require multidisciplinary work in biology and materials science.
Matrix Protein Regulation of Enamal Mineral Formation. This project is designed to study the structure and mechanism of formation of higher order assemblies of enamal matrix proteins and their influence on biomineralization in vivo. One protein of interest, related to enamal formation, is amelogenin. We will study the interaction of amelogenin with hydroxyapatite using Quartz Crystal Microbalance technology. This project is in collaboration with Henry Margolis at the Forsyth Institute in Boston, MA and is currently funded by the National Institute of Health.
Metal Nanoparticle Synthesis, Characterization, and Application. The promise of nanotechnology continues to be touted and explored throughout the scientific community. One important material to emerge from this research is noble metal particles covered in a protective organic shell, known as monolayer protected clusters or MPCs. These nanoparticles, with diameters ranging from 0.5 to 50 nm, have been studied for their unique optical and electronic properties and have been used in applications ranging from batteries to vaccine development. In the realm of biochemistry, MPCs offer a unique scaffold on which to build biologically-relevant surfaces that have the potential to interface with the immune system, cellular systems, or other biomaterials. Our research will first focus on the synthesis, purification, and characterization of the particles. A particular challenge with MPCs is the size distribution that is common to the Brust synthetic approach. Once particles of appropriate diameter and quality are obtained we will look to study MPC affect on biomineralization and also to utilize MPCs as scaffolds for the design of protein mimics.
Visit our Gerdon Research Group page!
- Principles of Chemistry I, CHEM 1101
- Principles of Chemistry II, CHEM 1102
- Chemistry Perspectives, CHEM 1103
- The Chemistry of Fire and Explosives, CHEM 1xxx - Coming Soon!
- Fundamentals of Chemical Analysis, CHEM 2104
- Instrumental Methods of Analysis, CHEM 2108
- Senior Seminar, CHEM 4160
- ecEDGE Faculty Mentor, Emmanuel College, 2010 - Present
- Science Living Learning Community Coordinator, Emmanuel College, 2009 - Present
- Instructor for Talent Identification Program (TIP) at Duke University, teaching Nanotechnology to gifted high school students, 2005-2006
- Team Leader for Vanderbilt Students Volunteering for Science (VSVS), teaching science lessons to 5th and 6th grade students, 2002-2006
- American Chemical Society, National Member, 2003 - Present
- Materials Research Society, National Member, 2008 - Present
- NIH Chemical Biology Training Grant Recipient, 2003-2005
- Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology Fellow, 2002-2004
4. Lou, X.: Qian, J.; Xiao, Y.; Viel, L.; Gerdon, A.; Lagally, E.; Atzberger, P.; Tarasow, T.; Heeger, A.; Soh, H. "Micromagnetic Selection of Aptamers in Microfluidic Channels" Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2009, 106, 2989-2994.
5. Deravi, L.F.; Gerdon, A.E.; Cliffel, D.E.; Wright, D.W.; Sumerel, J.L. "Output Analysis of Materials Inject Printer" Appl. Phys. Lett. 2007, 91, 113114.
6. Gies, A.P.; Hercules, D.M.; Gerdon, A.E.; Cliffel, D.E. "Electrospray Mass Spectrometry Study of Tiopronin Monolayer-Protected Gold Nanoclusters" J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2007, 129, 1095-1104.
7. Sumerel, J.; Lewis, J.; Doraiswamy, A.; Deravi, L.F.; Sewell, S.L.; Gerdon, A.E.; Wright, D.W.; Narayan, R.J. "Piezoelectric ink jet processing of materials for medical and biological applications" Biotechnol. J. 2006, 1, 976-987.
8. Yu, S-J.; Liao, H-X.; Gerdon, A.E.; Huffman, B.J.; Scearce, R.M.; McAdams, M.; Alam, S.M.; Popernack, P.; Sullivan, N.; Wright, D.W.; Cliffel, D.E.; Nabel, G.; Haynes, B.F. "Detection of Human and Non-human Primate Ebola Virus Envelope Using Monoclonal and Polyclonal Antibodies in ELISA, Surface Plasmon Resonance, and a Quartz Crystal Microbalance Immunosensor" J. Vir. Methods 2006, 137, 219-228.
9. Gerdon, A.E.; Wright, D.W.; Cliffel, D.E. "Epitope Mapping of the Protective Antigen of B. Anthracis Using Nanoclusters Presenting Conformational Peptide Epitopes." Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2006, 45, 594-598.
10. Gerdon, A.E.; Wright, D.W.; Cliffel, D.E. "Hemagglutinin Linear Epitope Presentation on Monolayer-Protected Nanoclusters Elicits Strong Antibody Binding." Biomacromolecules 2005, 6, 3419-3424.
11. Gerdon, A.E.; Wright, D.W.; Cliffel, D.E. "Quartz Crystal Microbalance Characterization of Nanostructure Assemblies in Biosensing" in Characterization Tools for Nanosystems in Life Sciences, 1st Ed, Kumar, C. Ed, Wiley-VCH: New York, 2005, 109-144.
12. Gerdon, A.E.; Wright, D.W.; Cliffel, D.E. "Quartz Crystal Microbalance Detection of Glutathione-Protected Nanoclusters Using Antibody Recognition." Anal. Chem. 2005, 77, 304-310.