Robert C. Anderson Memorial Award 2011
Yuchen Liu, postdoctoral candidate, Yale University, has made major contributions to scientists’ understanding of methanogenic Archaea. She investigated a regulatory histone-like protein in the methanogenic archaeon, Methanococcus maripaludis, which required her to develop new methods and modify others specifically for the project. The project involved a wide variety of measurements, including real-time PCR, proteomic analysis, enzyme assays, DNA foot-printing, and gel mobility shift assays on knock-out mutants with wild type organisms. Liu identified the DNA-binding motif of this protein, which suggests that the protein function in mesophilic methanogens is greatly diverged from homologs in thermophiles. She also solved a major problem involving the metabolism of sulfur in methanoccoci, demonstrating an unexpected pathway. Both of these projects resulted in first-author publications in major journals.