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BMMB Graduate Student - Boal Lab
Image of Sarah Pope
The Boal Lab

About Me

I grew up in Minneapolis, MN and graduated from Wheaton College with a B.S. in Biology. While an undergraduate, I did an REU in neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and studied neurogenesis in mice using optogenetics. I also spent a semester at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, where I had the opportunity to research the protistan and bacterial ecology of an oxygen-stratified lake. I love learning about the world through science and teaching others through science outreach activities.


Research Interest

I study bioinorganic chemistry, specifically enzymes that use transition metal complexes to catalyze reactions. 


Research Summary

My research focuses on a novel family of metalloenzymes called Heme-Oxygenase-like diiron oxidases/oxygenases (HDOs). I am currently focusing on one member of this family, SznF, which exists on the biosynthetic path to the natural product cancer therapeutic Streptozotocin. SznF uses two separate active sites, each with iron-binding capabilities, to catalyze two different types of reactions. Bioinformatics analyses suggest that thousands of uncharacterized HDO enzymes exist across a wide diversity of bacterial species, offering an opportunity to explore novel functions, structures, and mechanisms. In order to further characterize SznF and other HDOs, I am using bioinformatics, x-ray crystallography, and spectroscopy.


Programs and Training Centers


University Committees

  • Outreach co-chair - Graduate Women in Science, 2020-2021