Professor Tuo Wang Named 2020 NSF CAREER Awardee

Dr. Wang with graduate student

Principal Investigator Tuo Wang (left) with Alex Kirui (right), graduate student and major personnel on the project.  

Assistant Professor Tuo Wang recently received a five-year Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation. 

The NSF CAREER program supports early-career faculty who demonstrate the role of teacher-scholar through outstanding research, excellent teaching, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organization. The $600,367 grant is for Dr. Wang’s project titled “Functional Structure and Dynamics of Complex Carbohydrates Via Sensitivity-Enhanced Solid-State NMR and Database Development.”

The project is based on preliminary results collected from an earlier NSF award with the Wang Research Group, with seven preliminary studies published within one year of support. The project continues the improvement of an LSU-based original database and integrates it with novel solid-state NMR methods to enable investigations of carbohydrate structure in intact cells.

The project is highly significant because:

  1. carbohydrate structure has long been extremely difficult to resolve,
  2. the molecules are studied in intact cells and with atomic resolution
  3. the new NMR technique now removes the requirement for isotope labeling, thus you can study any sample you can find in nature without replicating them in lab, and
  4. the carbohydrate database and software are publicly available and benefit the research community. 

high resolution carbohydrate
Research: Enable high-resolution investigations of carbohydrate structure

The educational component of the proposal includes a novel, demonstrative experiment called “the carbohydrate fingerprint” that involves the use of benchtop NMRs and student-generated database to resolve the molecular features of sugar mixtures. The experiment incorporates two innovative teaching strategies, the “designed mistakes” module and student peer-teaching, which strengthens student critical thinking and enhances learner engagement. The interdisciplinary project provides enhanced discovery-based learning experiences for undergraduate researchers using the most current technology. 

Dr. Tuo Wang received his B.S. degree from Nankai University (Tianjin, China) and started his graduate research at Iowa State University in 2010. In 2014, he moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with Prof. Mei Hong and received his Ph.D. degree in January 2016 in the field of physical chemistry from MIT. He continued at MIT for his postdoctoral training and joined the faculty at LSU in the fall of 2017.