Senior Award Winner
Erica Flapan, Pomona College
The Reflective Essay discusses the author’s research “at one of the many intersections of biochemistry and mathematics” and the value to that research of the Library’s staff and resources, both online and in hard copy. The author’s abstract of her thesis: For DNA molecules, topological complexity occurs exclusively as the result of knotting or linking of the polynucleotide backbone. By contrast, while a few knots and links have been found within the polypeptide backbones of some protein structures, non-planarity can also result from the connectivity between a polypeptide chain and attached metal structures. In this thesis, we survey the known types of knots, links, and non-planar graphs in protein structures with and without including such bonds between proteins and metals. Then we present new examples of protein structures containing Mobius ladders and other non-planar graphs as a result of these bound metal atoms. Finally, we propose hypothetical structures illustrating specific disulfide connectivities that would result in the key ring link, the Whitehead link and the 51 knot, the latter two of which have thus far not been identified within protein structures.
The author's research product , her senior thesis, is currently under embargo.
Heller, Gabriella, "Topological Complexity in Protein Structures" (2014). 2014 Claremont Colleges Library Undergraduate Research Award.
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