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Sarah Cooper Receives National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

Sarah Cooper, a Genome Science and Technology (GST) graduate student at the University of Tennessee, working with Jerry Parks in the Center for Molecular Biophysics in the Biosciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), has received a 2017 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship for three years.

Sarah’s research project involves using computer simulations to study the mechanisms of β-lactamase enzymes.  She is also working on a project to identify the “rules of permeability” for antibiotics in Gram-negative bacteria and the permeability of mercury complexes through bacterial membranes. 

Her research uses the Compute and Data Environment for Science (CADES) cluster at ORNL to perform computer simulations and involves collaboration with Dr. Leighton Coates at the Spallation Neutron Source for β-lactamase neutron structures.

In the future, Sarah would like to continue working on interdisciplinary and collaborative research projects while increasing the promotion of diversity in STEM.

The NSF 2017 Graduate Research Fellowship Program received over 13,000 applications and made 2,000 award offers.  The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.