Laura Kiessling receives 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship

Laura Kiessling, Hilldale Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Laurens Anderson Professor of Biochemistry, was one of four UW-Madison professors to receive 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship Awards, which recognize artists, scholars and scientists based on distinguished past achievement and exceptional future promise.

She was among 190 individuals selected by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation of New York from a pool of more than 2,600 applicants. The financial awards to this year’s winners total $8.2 million.

As a Guggenheim Fellow, Kiessling proposes to expand the scope of a type of chemical synthesis, called alkene metathesis, which she believes could offer a powerful new way to monitor the condition and function of cells. Earlier, her group exploited this process to create biological molecules that reacted selectively with certain “reporter” chemicals, allowing the molecules to be followed and observed. She now plans to develop metathesis reactions that will take place on more complex molecules, such as proteins, and in more complex environments, such as the cell surface.

Since 1925, the foundation has granted more than $265 million in fellowships to nearly 16,500 individuals from a wide range of professions, including writers, painters, sculptors, photographers, filmmakers, choreographers, physical and biological scientists, social scientists and scholars in the humanities.