Jacqueline A. Nikles

Associate Professor, Chemical Education/Polymer Chemistry


Department of Chemistry
CHEM 283 - 901 14th Street South
Birmingham Alabama 35294-1240

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B.S., Marietta College, 1977
M.S., Case Western Reserve University, 1980
Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University, 1985
Post-doctoral Fellow, Rutgers University, 9/1983-12/1986
Research Interests:
Nanoscience, chemical education, professional development of high school chemistry teachers.
Nanoscience and technology promise unprecedented control in the design of materials at the atomic, molecular, and supramolecular level. The possibilities for incorporating nanomaterials into the area of medical science, and in particular, disease treatment, are enormous and this has captured the attention of the NIH. Recently, Curiel, et al (Scientific American, October, 68-71, 2003) have developed a method which utilizes adenoviruses to infect and destroy cancer cells. However, it is necessary to track where the viruses go, and this becomes a problem when the cancerous cells are located in deep tissue tumors. If the viruses could be tagged with a magnetic particle, then it may be possible to utilize magnetic resonance imaging to pinpoint the virus location. JN FacPagePic1
A collaboration between faculty at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, David T. Curiel in the School of Medicine at UAB, and myself has been established. My focus is to develop ligands which allow us to attach a magnetic particle to the surface of the adenovirus.
For example, 12-mercaptododecanoic-(8-biotinoylamido-3,6-dioxaoctyl)amide (BAT ligand) which has previously been synthesized in the literature, provides a thiol group, which can attach to magnetic particles, and a biotin group which can attach to the adenovirus. NiklesPagePic 2
The ligand can be modified by varying both the length, n, of the thiol chain and the length of the ethylene glycol groups between the amine links. This allows for a comparison of binding ability versus ligand chain length.

A critical area in undergraduate chemistry education is the research experience. In an effort to implement an undergraduate curriculum that supports research, I have designed an honors organic chemistry lab course. This course introduces students to modern analytical instrumentation, molecular modeling, and multi-step synthesis. Students are required to do a literature search using SciFinder„•. Technical writing skills are developed as well as oral presentation skills. This course is continually under development and refinement.
I have a strong commitment of outreach to local high schools. This is in the form of acting as a visiting lecturer to the AP/IB Chemistry class at the Jefferson County International Baccalaureate high school, mentoring a high school student research project, and designing a Saturday Science Academy for high school students. As a result of No Child Left Behind, teachers are required to become highly qualified in their major field of instruction. With this in mind, I obtained external funding from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) and created a new graduate level course (CH 619), which provided both laboratory exercises and content that is delivered online. Teachers were introduced to modern analytical techniques, materials science, forensic chemistry, and organic chemistry. Inquiry-based learning techniques were incorporated into the course curriculum. The objective of the course is to introduce teachers to current scientific methodology, scientific advances, and new learning techniques, which encourage critical thinking and problem solving.