Learning & Teaching
My research interests are interdisciplinary in nature, spanning the traditional boundaries of synthetic organic chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology. I am interested in the chemistry of biological surfaces, particularly those that contain sugars, and the role of the sugars at these surfaces. One project in my group looks to develop a model system for glycosylated surfaces. While cell surfaces are covered in carbohydrates, many of the details concerning interactions with carbohydrates are yet to be uncovered. In particular, we seek to develop a model system that contains sugars fixed in space and orientation to an extended sheet surface that will allow for the probing of sugar-sugar and sugar-conjugate interactions at defined spacings. My larger interest in surfaces containing sugars led me to an interest in bacterial cell walls. These cell walls contain a system of cross-linked sugars and peptides called peptidoglycan whose synthesis is the target of many commonly used antibiotics. A second on-going project studies the proteins that synthesize this peptidoglycan, called penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs), from the bacterial species Burkholderia cenocepacia. This bacterium is an opportunistic pathogen that is of clinical relevance to Cystic Fibrosis patients. It is of particular interest because it is largely resistant to antibiotics, and utilizes many resistance mechanisms. In my lab, we have identified, cloned, expressed, and isolated several PBPs from this bacterium. We have begun studies to characterize these proteins.
I have a strong interest in working with undergraduate students and many students who have worked in my lab have presented their work at national conferences. I am also interested in the research regarding the best pedagogies for teaching chemistry. This has translated into lab development and classroom strategies that explore techniques current in the literature.
- Specht, K.M.; *Sheetz, K.; *Alexander, C.A.; *Lamech, L.T.; *O'Connor, L.H.; *Walker, D.M.; and *Stevenson, H.P. 2010. Expression and Characterization of Penicillin-Binding Proteins in Burkholderia cenocepacia. Current Microbiology. v. 60 no. 4 p. 274-279
- Specht, K.M.; Jackson, M.; *Sunkel, B.; Boucher, M.A. 2010. Synthesis of a functionalized sheet silicate derived from apophyllite and further modification by hydrosilylation. Applied Clay Science. v. 47 p. 212-216
- Boucher, M.A.; Specht, K.M. 2009. A Forensic-Themed Case Study for the Organic Lab . Journal of Chemical Education. v. 86 no. 7 p. 847-848
- Fan, Q.-W.; Specht, K.M.; Zhang, C.; Goldenberg, D.D.; Shokat, K.M.; and Weiss, W.A. 2003. Combinatorial Efficacy Achieved Through Two-Point Blockade within a Signaling Pathway - A Chemical Genetic Approach. Cancer Research. v. 63 p. 8930-8938
- Specht, K.M. and Shokat, K.M. 2002. The Emerging Power of Chemical Genetics. Current Opinion in Cell Biology. v. 14 p. 155-159
- Specht, K.M.; Nam, J.; Ho, D.M.; Berova, N.; Kondru, R.K.; Beratan, D.N.; Wipf, P.; Pascal Jr., R.A. and Kahne, D.. 2001. Determining Absolute Configuration in Flexible Molecules: A Case Study. Journal of the American Chemical Society. v. 123 no. 37 p. 8961-8966
- Specht, K.M.; Harris, C.R.; Molander, G.A.; and Kahne, D. 1999. SmI2 Cleavage of Chromomycin A3 Sugars. Tetrahedron Letters. v. 121 p. 1237-1238
- Domagala, J.M.; Gogliotti, R.; Sanchez, J.P.; Stier, M.A,; Musa, K.; Song, Y.; Loo, J.; Reily, M.; Tummino, P.; Harvey, P.; Hupe, D.; Sharmeen, L.; Mack, D.; Scholten, J.; Saunders, J.; and McQuade, T. 1997. 2,2'-Dithiobisbenzamides and 2-Benzisothiazolones, Two New Classes of Antiretroviral Agents: SAR and Mechanistic Considerations. Drug Design and Discovery. v. 15 p. 49-61
- Toledo, L.M.; Musa, K.; Lauher, J.W.; Fowler, F.W. 1. Development of Strategies for the Preparation of Designed Solids - An Investigation of the 2-Amino-4(1H)-pyrimidone Ring-System for the Molecular Self-Assembly of Hydrogen-Bonded Alpha-Networks. Chemistry of Materials. v. 7 p. 1639-1647
- Specht, K.M. “Investigating the Cell Wall of Burkholderia cenocepacia” Invited seminar speaker at The University of Toledo, Toledo, OH, January, 2012.
- Specht, K.M. “Antibiotics and Onion Rot: Investigating the Cell Wall of Burkholderia cenocepacia” Invited seminar speaker at John Carroll University, Cleveland, OH, November 2011.
- Specht, K.M. “A Guided Research Project for the Organic Chemistry Lab.” Presented at the American Chemical Society 240th National Meeting in Boston, MA, August 2010.
- Boucher, M.A.; Specht, K.M. “Was it murder? Introducing FT-IR through a case study from organic chemistry.” Presented at the 20th Biennial Conference on Chemical Education in Bloomington, IN, July 2008.
- Specht, K.M. “Exploring Antibiotic Resistance: Identification and Expression of Penicillin-Binding Proteins from Burkholderia cenocepacia” Invited seminar speaker at Colby College, Waterville, ME, April 2008.
- Boucher, M.A.; Specht, K.M. “Was it murder? A case study for an organic laboratory” Poster Presentation at the American Chemical Society 234th National Meeting in Boston, MA, August 2007.
- Specht, K.M. “Adventures in Chemical Biology: Cloning and Expression of Penicillin-Binding Proteins” Invited seminar speaker at Utica College, Utica, NY, April 2007.
- *Miyawaki, T.Y.; Specht, K. “Increasing the Permeability of Burkholderia cenocepacia by Inserting Targeted Genomic Mutations” Poster Presentation at the American Chemical Society 245th National Meeting in New Orleans, LA, April 2013.
- *Weber, L.; Specht, K. “Expression of BCAL0894 in the Outer Membrane of B. cenocepacia and its Linkage to Lipopolysaccharide Presence” Poster Presentation at the American Chemical Society 245th National Meeting in New Orleans, LA, April 2013.
- *Malik, J.; Specht, K. “Elucidating the Role of BCAL2021 in Burkholderia cenocepacia through Suicide Vector-Induced Gene Knockout” Poster Presentation at the American Chemical Society 241st National Meeting in Anaheim, CA, March 2011.
- *Alexander, C.M.; *Lamech, L.T.; Specht, K. “Cloning and overexpression of an E. coli PBP1a homolog from Burkholderia cenocepacia into E. coli” Poster Presentation at the American Chemical Society 234th National Meeting in Boston, MA, August 2007.
- *O’Connor, L.H.; *Lamech, L.T.; Specht, K. “Cloning and overexpression of a putative penicillin-binding protein from Burkholderia cenocepacia in E. coli” Poster Presentation at the American Chemical Society 234th National Meeting in Boston, MA, August 2007.
- *Stevenson, H.; *Hickey, D.; Specht, K. “Bocillin™ PBP Labeling and Detection Studies” Poster Presentation at the American Chemical Society 232nd National Meeting in San Francisco, CA, September 2006.
- *Cobb, K.B.; Specht, K.M. “In vivo Monitoring of PBP1b in E. coli” Poster Presentation at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Annual Meeting and Centennial Celebration in San Francisco, CA, April 2006.
- *Stevenson, H.; Specht, K. “Plasmid design for the fusion of PBP1a with the fluorescent protein GFP” Poster Presentation at the Columbus Section American Chemical Society Meeting in Columbus, OH, November 2005.
* indicates Denison University undergraduate student co-authors