Schatz portrait

George Schatz


George C. Schatz

Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison
Professor of Chemistry and of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Northwestern University

Date: Friday, December 9, 2011
Place: Procrastinator Theater
Time: 3:10 p.m.

Title: New Twists on DNA in Materials and Biology

Sponsoring department: Chemistry & Biochemistry


This talk focuses on unusual properties of DNA that arise in two areas: in biology, where it is commonly found in cell nuclei wrapped around histone proteins in structures known as nucleosomes, and in biomaterials, where a new class of crystal structures has been developed using DNA to link nanoparticles. In the biological problem, there has been an important realization in the last ten years that there are important propensities which govern the base-pair compositions that favor nucleosome location, with AA, AT, or TA often found whenever the minor groove points inward towards the histone complex. Dr. Schatz shows how one can use molecular mechanics and dynamics to understand these nucleosome formation propensities, in which certain base-pair compositions favor the highly bent conformations that are required. He also shows how TT photodimerization depends on base-pair composition, and how this is connected to nucleosome structure. In the biomaterials application, he describes unusual structural and thermal properties of DNA that links gold nanoparticles, and how this leads to superlattice crystal structures for these materials that go beyond what one might guess from atomic crystallography.

About the speaker:

George C. Schatz is the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry and of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Northwestern University. He received his undergraduate degree in chemistry at Clarkson University (1971) and a Ph. D. (1976) at Caltech. He was a postdoc at MIT, and has been at Northwestern since 1976. Schatz has published three books and over 600 papers. Schatz is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (2005), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2002), the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Sciences (2001) and he has been Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Physical Chemistry since 2005. Awards include Sloan and Dreyfus Fellowships, the Fresenius Award of Phi Lambda Upsilon, the Max Planck Research Award, the Bourke Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Ver Steeg Fellowship of Northwestern University, the Feynman Prize of the Foresight Institute, the Herschbach Medal, and the Debye Award of the ACS. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Chemical Society and of the AAAS. He was honored in the George C. Schatz Festschrift of the Journal of Physical ChemistryA, Vol 113, 2009. He recently appeared on the Times Higher Education list of Top 100 Chemists of the Past Decade.