Theresa P.T. Nguyen
I am a visiting assistant professor in the departments of Chemistry and Biology. In the spring, I am teaching Biochemistry lecture, Research Methods in Biochemistry lab, and a First Year Seminar entitled "God in Biology: Gene, Virus, Adaptation, or Other?"
My introduction to chemistry and biology began through stories: as a kid, I loved hearing and retelling stories about science. Stories that began with the ever-present “why?” evolved into studies in biochemistry and a call to science education. I credit my love of teaching to my undergraduate experience at Loyola Marymount University, and my enjoyment of research to my graduate studies at UCLA in the laboratory of Catherine F. Clarke. As a graduate student, I was also an NSF GK-12 fellow where I had the privilege (and fun!) of teaching and learning alongside elementary and high school students as a scientist-in-residence.
My research examines the biosynthesis of coenzyme Q, an essential lipophilic molecule found within the mitochondria. Also known as “ubiquinone” (or simply “Q”), this small organic compound received the name for its fully substituted quinone head group and its ubiquitous presence in all living organisms. Chemically, Q is composed of a polyisoprenoid “tail” that anchors to the lipid membrane, and a redox-active benzoquinone “head” that enables it to accept and donate electrons and protons in the respiratory chain.
Q/QH2’s reversible redox chemistry also makes it an excellent quencher of free radicals. In fact, it is the only endogenous lipid antioxidant in humans. Though ubiquitously and abundantly present in all human cells, Q is marketed as the dietary supplement CoQ10, and was Amazon.com’s bestselling antioxidant in 2013.
At St. Lawrence, I have begun a project with two undergraduates on the COQ4 gene, one of the eleven yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae genes essential for Q biosynthesis. The project aims to characterize the function of Coq4 by using genetic and biochemical techniques to identify potential suppressor proteins that interact with the Coq4 polypeptide in vivo. Though its function is uncharacterized, Coq4 is known to be a peripheral protein associated with the inner mitochondrial membrane on the matrix side and is required for the stability of the CoQ-synthome, a multi-subunit protein complex involved in yeast Q biosynthesis.
Away from the bench, I am also interested in science education, science and religion, reading, writing, making arts & crafts, and petting dogs.
Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
M.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
B.S. in Biochemistry
- Minor in Theological Studies
- University Honors Program, Magna cum laude