Sheila Browne Research

Professor; Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, 1974; Mount Holyoke College, 1976-present.

Sheila E. Browne is a physical organic chemist whose research program has expanded into polymer chemistry by collaboration with colleagues in the University of Massachusetts Polymer Science Department. Her current research involves monitoring the biosynthesis and biodegradation of bacterial polyesters in vivo using 13C NMR. These polymers are both biodegradable and biocompatible. Professor Browne has successfully used natural abundance 13C NMR to obtain the first spectra of poly(?-hydroxyoctanoate) (PHO) and several functionalized PHO's in vivo in P. oleovorans. The effect of temperature variation shows the PHO to be predominantly "mobile" and amorphous within the granules in living cells as well as in isolated granules. Carbon-13NMR has proven to be a useful and fast technique for following polymer concentration and co-polymer content in living bacteria in the process of polymerization or degradation. She intends to extend the use of 13C NMR to investigate three new facets of the formation and degradation of poly(?-hydroxyalkanoates) (PHA's) by bacteria: (1) The biosynthetic pathway and the mechanism of cometabolism; (2) the in vivo dynamic properties of functionalized PHA's, including degrees of crystallinity; (3) changes in polymerization and degradation in bacteria with environmental changes.

Selected Relevant Publications

  • Curley JM, Lenz RW, Fuller RC, Browne SE, Gabriel CB, Panday S (1997) C-13 NMR spectroscopy in living cells of Pseudomonas oleovorans. Polymer 38 (21): 5313-5319.