A BGSU chemist whose work has been described as “providing unprecedented insights into mechanisms of important enzymes and proteins” has been named the 2009 winner of the Olscamp Research Award. Dr. Peter Lu, Ohio Eminent Scholar in chemistry, is an internationally recognized expert in the field of single-molecule spectroscopy—the study of biological and nonbiological processes in real time.
Presented Nov. 5 at the annual research and creative activity conference, the award comes with a $2,000 cash award and a reserved parking space for one year. “Dr. Lu’s many accomplishments reflect positively upon our institution, and we are extremely fortunate to have him as a member of our faculty,” said Dr. Michael Ogawa, chair of the chemistry department, in nominating Lu for the award.
Accepting the award for Lu was Dr. Felix Castellano, who described Lu as an “absolutely fantastic colleague, who is very energetic and cares about our graduate program. He works diligently to help us all succeed as a unit.”
Ogawa noted the chemist’s stature in his field as well as his remarkable productivity. When Lu came to BGSU in 2006, he was described by Dr. Joseph Hupp of Northwestern University as “one of a handful of pioneers in the area of biological applications of single-molecule spectroscopy.”
By being able to track the actions of a molecule as it interacts with other proteins and enzymes, instead of merely looking at static images, researchers can learn much more about metabolism and how to address biological problems.
Since coming to Bowling Green, Lu has also applied his methods of single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy to the study of nonbiological systems relevant to the conversion of solar energy. A grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) supports his collaborative study with a German colleague of electron-transfer reactions on semiconductor surfaces.
The Olscamp award is given to a BGSU faculty member for outstanding scholarly or creative accomplishments during the previous three-year period. The quality of research is evaluated in terms of significance within the discipline, national and international import, artistic or scholarly creativity, and contribution to knowledge, culture or professional practice.
Ogawa wrote, “Dr. Lu’s accomplishments during his three years at Bowling Green have been simply remarkable. After quickly constructing the specialized equipment and infrastructure needed to conduct leading research in his field, Dr. Lu has produced 15 peer-reviewed publications appearing in very prestigious academic journals, has been awarded five separate federal research grants (one each from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the NSF and the Department of Energy and two from the U.S. Army Research Office), and was invited by the Nobel Committee in Stockholm, Sweden, to present his research findings at the 2008 symposium on single-molecule spectroscopy.”
In addition, he has been named senior editor of the journal Nano Reviews and has been an organizer of several international symposia as well as a member of five separate NIH study section review panels.