Erin M. Kolonko

Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Phone: (518) 782‑6956
Email: ekolonko@siena.edu

Erin M. Kolonko

Degrees:

Ph.D. Chemistry University of Wisconsin, Madison,WI
B.S. Chemistry Juniata College

Bio:

Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Siena College, Loudonville, NY, 2012-present
Visiting Assistant Professor, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA, Spring 2012
Visiting Scholar, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA, 2011-2012
Postdoctoral Fellow, Biomolecular Chemistry, University of WI–Madison, Madison, WI, 2008-2010

What I love about Siena:

The reason why I love to teach at Siena is simple: the students. The students at Siena are hard-working, considerate, socially responsible, and engaging. In my job, I am able to meet new students every year and, over the course of four years, see them grow academically and personally to be well-rounded graduates, ready to make their way in the world. I am honored to be a part of that process, and I look forward to interacting with students in my classroom, in my laboratory, in my office, and around campus each day.

My Favorite courses to teach are:

Organic Chemistry I and II
Physical Biochemistry Lab (Senior Chemistry/Biochemistry major course)

My current research:

  • Epigenetics
  • Enzyme kinetics
  • Post-translational modification of proteins
  • Bioactive small molecule synthesis

Reversible chemical modification of residues on histones is a key factor in the regulation of chromatin structure. One such modification is the methylation of lysine residues, which is catalyzed by histone lysine methyltransferases (HKMTs). PR domain-containing (PRDM) proteins, a large sub-class of HKMTs, are important in cell division and differentiation and have been linked to human cancers; yet, the methyltransferase activity of these proposed enzymes remains largely uncharacterized. My research group is initiating a detailed enzymatic investigation of one PRDM protein in order to determine the catalytic and kinetic mechanisms. This research will not only provide students an opportunity to learn a variety of scientific techniques but will also engage students in a novel area of research relevant to human health and disease.

My teaching philosophy:

The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them. -Sir William Lawrence Bragg, Nobel Laureate in Physics

Many of the most meaningful mentors in my life have been teachers. A high school chemistry and biology teacher, an elementary principal, and an assistant professor of pediatrics comprise my immediate family; as a result, I have been exposed to the importance and impact of education on students of all ages throughout my life. I am drawn to academia and, in particular, to teaching at a predominantly undergraduate institution, because I want to encourage and inspire the next generation of leaders, workers, and thinkers as well as continue to learn through teaching others. In addition, I view teaching as a service – a way to give back to society and to make a difference in the lives of individual students, the next generation of leaders. My goal as an educator is to foster an enthusiasm, or at the least, a respect for the scientific endeavor and for chemistry and biochemistry in particular through the lecture classroom, laboratory courses, and a vibrant undergraduate research group.


Biochemical and kinetic investigation of the histone methyltransferase PRDM2
April, 2014
Eastern New York ACS Undergraduate Research Poster Session, Loudonville, New York
Kinetic Investigation of the Histone Methyltransferase PRDM2
September, 2013
Upstate NY Undergraduate Research Conference, Canton, New York