Dr. Godwin will create a program at Northwestern University to recruit and retain students in the sciences, including underrepresented minorities; this program will provide them with positive experiences in science. A central feature of the program is the summer workshop, which will target entering freshmen who plan to enroll in general chemistry. The workshop will focus on building skills that will allow students to excel in general chemistry and subsequent science courses. Students will participate in collaborative research projects that focus on assessing lead levels in soil. Dr. Godwin and a postdoctoral fellow will mentor students on this research. In addition, workshop participants will be encouraged to enroll in a freshman seminar on science and society to promote good scientific writing and analytical skills. Students who wish to continue in the program after the workshop will be involved in conducting in-depth research projects, participating in community outreach activities, and mentoring incoming students in subsequent years.
By providing students with the tools and environment they need to succeed, the program will prepare them for graduate school and give them the positive experience required for them to want to seek careers in academia. Program assessment will involve tracking the performance and retention of students in general chemistry and the sciences and comparing their success with that of control groups. The program will also develop educational materials, which will be disseminated to other educators so that it can serve as a model for similar programs at other institutions.
The primary focus of the research in Dr. Godwin's laboratory is to study the basic chemical and biological mechanisms by which toxic metal ions, such as lead, affect neurological signaling and development. In addition, because lead targets proteins that naturally bind calcium and zinc, her lab is investigating the roles these native metal ions play in signal transduction. To shed light on the molecular basis for lead’s toxicity, her lab has developed methodologies for studying how lead binds to proteins and alters their activities.
Because Dr. Godwin’s research interests lie at the interface of inorganic chemistry and biology, the approach she takes to her studies on the role of metal ions in signal transduction is quantitative and molecular. She uses tools from chemistry and biophysics to study the thermodynamics and kinetics of metal-protein interactions and to elucidate how metal ions affect the structure and dynamics of the proteins to which they bind. In addition, she uses the insights gained from her biological studies to rationally design fluorescent sensors and chelating agents for lead, with the goals of developing improved methods for detecting and treating lead poisoning. New studies in her laboratory focus on elucidating how lead affects gene transcription and hormonal signaling in bacteria and mammalian cells.
Last updated October 2002