February 28 marked the birthday of Linus Pauling. Pauling was the author of 850 scientific texts on a wide variety of fields, such as quantum chemistry and molecular biology, including an early textbook, The Nature of the Chemical Bond.
This week, we’re highlighting student work on Wikipedia that focuses on areas that would do the poly-didactic Pauling proud.
For example, here’s a student article on Hydrophobic collapse, from an honors course at UCLA lead by Dr. Heather Tienson. Amino acid molecules consist of hydrophilic segments that are attracted to water, and hydrophobic ones that are repelled by water. In a water-based medium, like a cell, hydrophilic regions aggregate together.
Hydrophobic collapse explains how this process occurs. A student expanded that article by 1,300 words, adding sections on the biological significance of the process, and how these processes occur. They also added three diagrams to help readers visualize some of those processes.
Lipid-anchored protein is an example of a really substantial improvement from a student editor. Understanding chemical bonding and biomolecular structure are part of Pauling’s legacy, in a broad sense. This student expanded the article to share some context on the role and functions of various proteins.
From Dr. Deborah Zamble’s Bioinorganic Chemistry course at the University of Toronto, we have more articles.
Students developed an article on Wilson’s disease protein, which owes much to Pauling’s role in the discovery that sickle cell anemia is a “molecular disease.” The disease was also the subject of an episode of CSI Miami in 2012.
Students took galactose oxidase from a short stub article to a long and well developed one, with illustrations of the molecule, the arrangement of the subunits, and some reaction cycles.
Thanks to Dr. Linus Pauling for extending the reach of science in new directions, and to these students for doing the same.