Cheri Ackerman is a PhD student in the Chemical Biology
Graduate Program at UC Berkeley. Her decision to pursue a PhD was born and
raised in her undergraduate research on systems biology and protein trafficking
as a Beckman and Goldwater Scholar at Calvin College, Michigan. Cheri graduated
from Calvin, with honors, in biochemistry, a second major in Spanish, and a
fascination for the complexity of biology.
Her current work explores the role of redox-active metal
ions in biological systems. Specifically, she is developing proteomic methods
for discovering new metal-binding proteins. This is particularly challenging
because metals do not bind to proteins covalently, but rather coordinate to
proteins; thus, metal-protein complexes fall apart during analysis. Cheri’s
work has been to implement small molecules that bind covalently to proteins
based on the presence or absence of the metal of interest, creating a permanent
memory of the metalation state of the protein, which can later be analyzed by
mass spectrometry. Additionally, Cheri creates and analyzes transgenic
zebrafish with altered metal metabolism.