Keri L Colabroy
My passions include biochemistry for everyone, faculty-mentored student research, writing across the curriculum and educational technology.
I teach at Muhlenberg College because here I can work with students at the bench—teaching and learning by doing real chemistry. In order to engage as many students as possible in the high-impact learning that accompanies faculty-mentored research, I’ve integrated research into my courses and I engage students outside the classroom through independent research in my lab.
Muhlenberg has also supported my efforts to bring chemistry education to non-majors using a familiar context—the kitchen. Learning and using chemistry is for everyone, including the dance, sociology and business majors who cook with chemistry in our cooking lab.
Writing is a core pedagogy of the liberal arts, and I practice the principles of writing to learn in my science and non-science classrooms. Muhlenberg has also made it possible for me to learn and leverage technology to accomplish my goals—for example, to communicate science to non-experts—in the classroom and laboratory.
Research, Scholarship or Creative/Artistic Interests
My research revolves around understanding enzyme function and mechanism within bacterial metabolism. In particular, dioxygenase enzymes are essential protein catalysts for the breakdown of the molecular components found in the infrastructure of woody tissue in plants, but the complex relationship between enzyme structure and function is not well understood. This lack of understanding limits our ability to exploit this powerful chemistry to make new natural products and degrade plant material into biofuels. We collaborate with Larryn Peterson of Rhodes College to study the enzyme-catalyzed reaction in real time using small molecules carefully designed to expose how the enzyme catalyzes this difficult chemistry.
Our work has resulted in peer-reviewed publications, presentations and posters at national meetings as well as external support from the Research Corporation and the National Science Foundation. Instructional videos of the established and emerging technologies and methods used in our research are published to a freely accessible online archive.