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Pitt-Johnstown Alum and Salk Institute Director to give Keynote Address at Commencement

Pitt-Johnstown Alum and Salk Institute Director to give Keynote Address at Commencement

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Dr. Joseph P. Noel, professor at the Jack Skirball Chemical Biology and Proteomics Laboratory and adjunct member of the Structural Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and 1985 University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown alumnus, will deliver the main address at the UPJ Commencement Honoring Graduating Seniors at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 7, in the college’s Sports Center.

The commencement will honor approximately 587 seniors who completed bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, or associate of science degree requirements in August or December 2004, or are completing requirements in April or June of this year.  Approximately 365 seniors will participate in the ceremony.

Dr. Noel received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UPJ and doctorate in chemistry/biochemistry from the Ohio State University.

He currently is the director of a new initiative in chemistry at the Salk Institute.  He and his group are utilizing a combination of traditional and mechanistic enzymology, molecular biology, plant biology, synthetic chemistry and tools in structural biology including protein x-ray crystallography and NMR to decipher the structure, function, and evolutionary lineage of a large number of enzymes that act in plant cells and many microorganisms to produce biologically active natural products including terpenes, polyketides, and alkaloids.  These highly evolved chemicals have played critical roles in the pharmaceutical industry as sources of new highly potent drugs.  Armed with the three dimensional structure of the enzymes in plant and microbial cells responsible for the creation of this diverse array of bioactive compounds, his group also is engineering new specificities into these pathways to create novel products using a structurally-guided approach.  As part of these new initiatives in chemistry, the group is employing creative new approaches in synthetic chemistry to create new chemicals from natural sources as leads for pharmaceutical development.

Dr. Noel is a scientific co-founder of a new biotechnology company known as Allylix, Inc. with corporate headquarters in San Diego and laboratory facilities in Lexington, Ky.  Allylix is redefining how specialty chemicals are produced for the flavor and fragrance, agriculture and pharmaceutical industries.  Using nature’s genetic blueprints, Allylix develops state of the art technology platforms to create and obtain rare natural products in readily scalable systems then employs new methods in diversity oriented organic synthesis to create molecules for the industry groups mentioned above.

Dr. Peter Korch (’84), president of the Pitt Johnstown Alumni Association, will recognize the graduates as new members of the Association and encourage them to support the college by becoming active in the Association.

Dr. Ronald G. Reinbold, associate professor of German, will serve as grand marshal for the Commencement ceremonies, which include a procession of graduates, faculty, staff, administration and members of the UPJ Advisory Board.

Christopher J. Stanchek, a senior secondary education major of Portage, will lead the singing of the national anthem and alma mater.

Dr. Jerry Samples, vice president for academic and student affairs, will present the graduating seniors.  Dr. Jonathan Gonder, associate vice president for academic affairs, will read the list of graduating seniors.

Each academic division of the college will host a reception for seniors, their parents and guests immediately following the ceremony in the Student Union.

Faculty marshals are Dr. Elizabeth Bell-Loncella, associate professor of chemistry; Dr. J. Anthony Capon, associate professor of sociology; Charles Darr, associate professor of English; Dr. Patty Derrick, professor of English; Dr. Nina Girard, assistant professor of mathematics education, and Amy Miller, assistant professor of mechanical engineering technology.

Founded in 1927, the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown is a four-year, degree-granting college of the University of Pittsburgh with an enrollment of approximately 3,200.  The university offers more than 40 majors and is known for its engineering technology, education, humanities, natural and social sciences degree programs.  UPJ has been ranked “Third in the North” among public comprehensive colleges and universities, northern region, by U.S. News and World Report, America’s Best Colleges, 2005.
Posted by Sernell, Jeff on 4/19/2005 5:00:00 AM