Alanna Schepartz, newly appointed as a Sterling Professor of Chemistry, is known for the creative application of chemical synthesis and principles to understand and control biological recognition and function.
A Sterling Professorship is one of the university’s highest faculty honors.
Schepartz’s research has contributed to and shaped thinking in multiple areas, including the molecular mechanisms of protein-DNA recognition and transcriptional activation; protein design and engineering and their application to synthetic biology; and the mechanisms by which both molecules and molecular information are trafficked between biological compartments. She is also widely recognized for her design of β-peptide bundles, the first and only example of a protein-like architecture that lacks even a single α-amino acid.
After earning her undergraduate degree in chemistry from the State University of New York-Albany, Schepartz carried out graduate studies at Columbia University. Following postdoctoral work at the California Institute of Technology, she joined the Yale faculty in 1988. She was named the Milton Harris ’29 Ph.D. Professor of Chemistry in 2000 and holds an additional appointment as professor of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. Her other appointments have included a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professorship (2002-2007) and the inaugural directorship of the Yale Chemical Biology Institute (2011-2014).
At Yale, Schepartz has played a leading role in promoting science education and women in science. In 2002, she received a $1 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to enrich undergraduate education in chemistry by creating courses that expose students to the excitement and creativity of cutting-edge research earlier in their college careers. She was also an organizer of a conference in 2003 that highlighted the impact of women scientists historically and addressed scientific challenges for the 21st century.
The Yale professor has been honored with numerous awards for her work, including a David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellowship, a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship. She has received the Dylan Hixon ’88 Award for Teaching Excellence in the Natural Sciences, the Frank H. Westheimer Prize Medal, the A.C.S. Ronald Breslow Award for Achievement in Biomimetic Chemistry, the Wheland Medal, and the ACS Chemical Biology Prize & Prize Lecture, for which she was the inaugural recipient. In 2010, Schepartz was elected as a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the American Chemical Society. From 2005 to 2016, she served the chemical biology community as an associate editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. In 2014, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. In 2016, Schepartz was named editor-in-chief of Biochemistry.