Dr. Joan Broderick
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Montana State University
Cleaning scintillation vials is hardly glamorous, but it was Joan Broderick’s first laboratory job as an undergraduate at Washington State University and it crystallized her interest in laboratory research. Although that job was short-lived, Joan went on to work for a plant molecular biologist purifying and characterizing wheat invertase, and did her undergraduate honors thesis on magnetostructural correlations in binuclear copper complexes. This diverse research background in both biochemistry and inorganic chemistry, and Joan’s strong interest in both research areas, led her to combine these interests to pursue graduate research in bioinorganic chemistry.
Broderick was a National Science Foundation graduate fellow at Northwestern University, where she used a combination of molecular biology, biochemistry, and spectroscopy to provide mechanistic insight into chlorocatechol dioxygenase, a non-heme iron enzyme capable of degrading chlorinated organics. After receiving her PhD in 1992, she moved to MIT as an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow to pursue studies of a B12-dependent ribonucleotide reductase. It was at MIT that Broderick became fascinated with biological radical reactions, and particularly by a group of enzymes that utilized iron and S-adenosylmethionine to initiate radical transformations. Her first independent academic position was as an Assistant Professor at Amherst College, a small liberal arts college with a strong tradition of undergraduate research, and this is where she began her research on enzymes in the superfamily that would ultimately be named Radical SAM. Broderick ultimately decided she wanted to work in a more research-intensive environment, and moved in 1998 to Michigan State University, followed by her move in 2005 to Montana State University.
Broderick’s research today focuses on developing biochemical and mechanistic understanding of radical SAM enzymes, which utilize iron-sulfur clusters to initiate diverse biological radical reactions. She is excited about applying the fundamental principles of chemistry to elucidating biochemical reactions, and enjoys teasing out an understanding of the diverse roles of radical SAM enzymes in areas such as the antiviral response, the repair of DNA damage, and the synthesis of complex metal clusters in biology
Eric M. Shepard
Hometown: Flathead Valley, MT
· Postdoctoral researcher in biochemistry
· Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Rocky Mountain College
Eric M. Shepard has a strong desire to gain a deeper level of understanding about the natural world. He credits the guidance he received from teachers during his undergraduate and graduate education, along with his love for the outdoors, for sparking his love of science.
Shepard received a B.S. degree in chemistry from Rocky Mountain College and a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from Montana State University. While getting his Ph.D., he was supported by an NSF IGERT fellowship on Complex Biological Systems. According to Shepard, science is a very powerful tool and scientific research is essential to gain knowledge about our lives, our environment, and how the world we live in operates. He is currently a postdoctoral research associate under Dr. Joan B. Broderick. His research interests are copper and iron-containing enzyme systems.
He is an avid outdoorsman with a true passion for the mountains and wildlife of Montana. Shepard enjoys camping, hiking, fly fishing and hunting. Most weekends you can find him with his wife exploring the Gallatin mountain range or taking trips to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.