Contact: Wendel Sloan at 575.562.2253
Reporter: Erin Griffith
PORTALES—The science department at Eastern New Mexico University has a new piece of equipment which determines the structure of molecules. The Single Crystal X-ray Diffractometer is a rare opportunity for a teaching school.
“We got the equipment from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Texas Tech. They decommissioned it and transferred it to Eastern in order to build collaboration,” said Newton Hilliard, associate professor of chemistry.
The equipment, which is about 10 years old and would have cost Eastern approximately
$400,000, allows faculty and
students to determine the actual structure of molecules. Currently, it can be used for small molecules, 30-50 atoms, but the department is hoping to increase its capabilities to also look at small proteins.
“Dr. (Robert) Long and Dr. (Juchao) Yan were already doing this kind of work at Eastern, but had to leave campus to do the research. Now they can work here. The research is not something that you do overnight. It takes weeks and months,” Hilliard said.
The equipment will broaden scientific research capabilities at Eastern, including more hands-on experience for students.
“Dr. Long and Dr. Yan’s research synthesizes new molecules. They are making things that have not been made before and will be able to take the molecule and look at the structure to see if they made what they thought. For protein work, we can look at the three-dimensional structure and gain a better understanding of what it is doing within the cells,” he said.
According to Hilliard, the equipment will allow for a better collaboration between Eastern and fellow schools.
“We will be able to work better with our friends at Texas Tech, at UNM and down in Las Cruces; it will allow us to work with them in a way we hadn’t been able to previously,” Hilliard said.