CHEM U80541
 Molecular Biophysics Seminar, Fall, 2017

This course is designed to allow students to get the most out of the seminars they attend. A major part of the course involves attending at least one Biochemistry/Biophysics seminar a week at the home campus (e.g. CCNY students should attend the Wednesday Biochemistry Seminars) and at least one seminar off-campus during the semester. Students are required to write 1-page reports on three seminars that they attend, at least one of which must be an off-campus seminar or symposium. Please inform your instructor at least two days in advance of a seminar for which you plan to write a report. Then send the report by email no later than one week after attending the seminar. As the final course presentation, students will choose a recently published original work of research from the laboratory of one of the seminar speakers in the field of biochemistry or molecular biophysics and craft it into a brief presentation to the class.
Please take a few moments to review the rules at the link below:
CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity


Appreciation of progress to address current research challenges in biochemistry and biophysics, through attendance at a series of talks given by invited speakers.
Improvements in student presentation skills, by listening to talks by invited experts in the field of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, broadly defined.
Improvements in student oral presentation skills, by making one presentation based on published work.
Appreciation of ongoing biochemistry and biophysics research endeavors in the New York Metropolitan area, through attendance and reports on invited seminars.

Before Attending

Do a quick PubMed or ACS journal search for the speaker. You may want to print out abstracts of several recent publications or find an appropriate review article to read. Even a small bit of background knowledge will go a long way to enhance what you get out of the seminar itself.  This exercise also gives you the opportunity to select prospective articles for your final presentation described above; if the topic dovetails with your dissertation research, all the better!
Submit a provisional seminar attendance plan for the semester by 1/27/17, including at least 7 events.  The choices are not binding, but they will help you to mark your calendars, plan your reports, etc.  Make a spreadsheet using the format of the CCNY Seminar Schedule appended to this document.  Updates will be requested as the semester progresses.
During the Seminar
It is good practice to keep a seminar notebook and take notes during (or directly after) the talk. Taking notes helps to focus your attention and gives you something to look back at, weeks or months later, when you remember vaguely that so-in-so said something-or-other that might be useful in your own research work. The notebook is also a handy place to clarify what you heard on the way home, record confusing terminology that you want to look up, save handy website addresses mentioned by the speaker, etc.
Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything that is said! At the beginning you may feel that you understand just a little, but you will learn how to glean partial information from unfamiliar topics and how to focus your attention on the important points the speaker is trying to make (even if he or she is not making them crystal clear!). Years later, you will be surprised at how much you know about topics you never studied, just from going to seminars.
It is important to be prompt and take your seat before the talk starts.


Inform the instructor at least two days in advance if you will be writing a report on a particular seminar. Submit a report of about 1 page to the instructor by e-mail no later than one week of attending a seminar (late reports will be marked down). Three reports will be written, at least one of which must be on a seminar attended outside your home campus.
Use the following format (you may want to make a template and carry it with you to each talk).

Speaker Name & Professional Affiliation

Title of Seminar
Date & Location of Seminar
Content of the Talk
Which biochemical systems are being worked on?
Which physical or spectroscopic techniques are being used?
What is the central problem/question being addressed?
What was known generally about the problem before the speaker’s current work?
How does the speaker hope to add to or change our understanding of the problem?
What are the speaker’s principal conclusions?
Organization of the Talk
How was the talk organized? List major topics.
How effective was the presentation of the talk? Discuss the scientific level, clarity, length of the introduction, results, and conclusions. Discuss the speaking style and use of slides, overheads, etc.
What part of the talk did you enjoy the most and why?
How is the work or methodology of the talk related to what you are learning in your classes or research?
How could the talk be improved?
Question and Answer Session
How well did the speaker answer questions from the audience? Describe one question and comment specifically.
How well did the speaker answer YOUR question? Describe one question and comment specifically.  (Yes, students can and do ask questions – be brave!)
Supporting Literature

Go back to the abstracts of recent papers you found in your literature search of the speaker prior to the seminar, selecting one for closer reading.
Which paper did you read? Cite the authors, title, journal, volume, pages, and date using a standard format from Biophysical Journal, Biochemistry, or another journal you read frequently.
How is the topic covered by the paper related to the seminar topic?


In consultation with the instructor, students will choose a recently published original work of research by a seminar speaker in the field of biochemistry or molecular biophysics, crafting it into a brief presentation (12 minutes + 3 minutes for questions) to the class. The paper/s that will be presented need to be cleared with the instructor at least six weeks before the date of the presentation. Level III students are welcome to participate along with the faculty as questioners – this is also a skill to be cultivated.


Molecular Biophysics does not participate in the GC Chemistry Seminar Day, but Chemistry Ph.D. students registered for U80541 are strongly encouraged to attend to listen to announcements and meet with peers.

Attendance of seminars at the discretion of the student within the guidelines of the course requirements.

Seminar attendance - 20%
Reports - 30%
Final presentation - 30%

Final presentations will be on December 13, 2017. Time and location will be announced later.