Featured Faces of Wake Downtown Full Stories

Maame Addo

Background: I am originally from Ghana, and I came to the US for college. I went to college at Claflin University in South Carolina. From there I applied to a lot of graduate schools for a chemistry PhD, but also a chemical engineering PhD. I ended up focusing on schools for chemistry PhDs, and Wake Forest stood out to me among others including Ohio State University. What pulled me here was the fact that it was a small learning environment. Ohio State is a really big school. In terms of interacting with professors I felt like I would be happier here because five years is a long time. Being here the environment was conducive for learning and bettering myself. 

Research Focus: Our lab in general we focus on Sulfur trafficking, and the biosynthesis of Sulfur containing cofactors. Examples: Biotin, Lipoic Acid, Iron Sulfide clusters. Specifically my research I work with Azotobacter vinelandii so it is a bacterium that is found in soil, and it is able to fix nitrogen because it has a nitrogenase enzyme it is the only known enzyme that can break the triple bond in nitrogen gas to form ammonia. The other method is the Haber Bosch process where you use high energy and pressure in order to break that bond because it is super strong. So how does this enzyme do this! What we know is that for the enzyme to work properly it needs iron sulfur clusters. We are interested in the synthesis of iron sulfur clusters since this enzyme needs them to be active. We wanted to know how do those iron sulfur clusters end up on that protein. There are a lot of proteins in this pathway, and we are interested in the first two NifS and NifU and those make the initial Fe-S building blocks. So we basically want to know what the physiological reducing agent is, and then we also look at the rates of cluster assembly.      

Favorite Thing about Wake Downtown: I really like the fact that it feels open. The windows in Old Salem were not like that. I like the fact that I can look outside my window and see people running, and things to remind me that there is life out there. I just need to finish my research and just go enjoy life like everyone else. You can walk out and go for a drink with your friends, or go for dinner. There are a lot of things to do down here. Sometimes they even have yoga in the park. I have never gone, but it is nice to see people doing that in the park. On campus you see students all the time, here you can see different people because you have the med school and biotech place right here. We really get to mingle with other people.