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Source: Carleton University

Carleton Chemistry Professor To Receive Prestigious Polanyi Research Award

October 26, 2006

This evening, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Carleton University, Maria DeRosa, will be awarded a John Charles Polanyi Research Award. The Government of Ontario established these awards 20 years ago to honour up to five outstanding researchers a year who are in the early stages of their career at an Ontario university. These $20,000 awards are named in honor of University of Toronto chemistry superstar and 1986 Nobel Laureate John Polanyi.

Dr. DeRosa will be presented with this award at a special ceremony for all of the recipients that takes place this evening, Wednesday October 25 at 6:45 p.m. at the Munk Centre at the University of Toronto followed by a High Table Dinner at Massey College. Their Majesties The King and Queen of Sweden will be in attendance.

Dr. DeRosa is the first Carleton professor to receive this award.

"On behalf of all members of our Faculty of Science at Carleton, I congratulate Maria on receiving this prestigious award from the Government of Ontario," says Dean of Science, Jean-Guy Godin. "She exemplifies excellence in teaching, research, student mentoring and institutional citizenship. She is part of a group of recently-hired chemists at Carleton who are working in the emerging field of nanoscience and nanotechnology. These faculty members are all doing innovative research which will likely lead to exciting new discoveries and to societal benefits in the future."

Dr. DeRosa’s research examines a type of nucleic acid called ‘aptamers’ that can bind tightly to a specific molecule. ‘Aptamers’ come from the greek ‘aptus’ meaning to fit. She is using chemistry tools to understand how these pieces of DNA or RNA can fold into certain shapes that make pockets for these targets. This information can then be used to design useful devices out of these nucleic acids, like biosensors or smart therapeutics. Given increasing concerns about infectious diseases, bioterrorism agents, and environmental contaminants, there is an urgent need to develop these kinds of innovative sensing tools for the rapid and accurate detection of these substances. For example, faster and more accurate biosensors could have an impact on medicine by allowing for earlier disease diagnosis and therapy. More sensitive biosensors could also help us protect our food and water supply by detecting contaminants, even when they are at very low levels.

After finishing her undergraduate work in chemistry at Carleton University, Dr. DeRosa was awarded the University’s most prestigious medal-the Governor General's Silver Medal. She pursued her graduate studies at Carleton under the guidance of Prof. Robert Crutchley with whom she published several papers in top journals including the Journal of the American Chemical Society. In 1993, upon successful completion of her Ph.D., she was presented with a Senate Medal. She has received several scholarships including an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship that allowed her to do research at the California Institute of Technology from 2004-2005 with Prof. Jackie Barton, a world-leader in DNA sensor research. In 2005, she joined the chemistry Department at Carleton as an Assistant Professor. She has also been awarded an NSERC discovery grant, an NSERC Research Tools and Instruments grant and a CFI Leaders Opportunity grant.


For more information:

Maria DeRosa, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Chemistry
613-520-2600 x. 3844

Cell: 613-240-4748

Lin Moody

Media Relations

Carleton University

613-520-2600 ext. 8705



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