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Maria Baranova

A Photochemist’s Odyssey

Maria Baranova

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Electron Transport in the Photosynthetic Membrane. Reproduced with permission from Robert Carpentier, Laboratoire de biochimie du chloroplaste et photosynthese.

[Click to enlarge diagram]

In more detail:
High plant, algae and some bacteria like cyanobacteria are photosynthetic organisms. They harvest lightif it and transform it into chemical energy, which is needed for carbohydrate synthesis and hence for metabolism and body formation. We are focusing on cyanobacteria due to their “primitive” organization (prokaryotes). In this organism the photosynthetic membrane is located directly in the cell, instead of spatial organelle – chloroplasts (eukaryotic-plant and algae). The photosynthetic membrane is a lipid layer with protein complexes embedded into it. These protein complexes contain a lot of chromophores (i.e., groups of atoms that can absorb light), among which chlorophyll, carotenoids, and others. When chromophores absorb light of a particular energy, they become “excited” and electrons move to higher energy levels. The excess of energy is then released and electrons relax back to the ground state (low energy level) by emitting light or transferring electrons to another molecule.

Photo of Beakers

I am interested in how proteins and chromophores interact with each other, what minimum structural parameters are necessary for the interaction and how fast electrons transfer from one molecule to another.

Maria BaranovaDuring this Ph.D. program I had the great opportunity to teach different chemical courses and I discovered I really enjoyed it. I am planning to teach in the future.

My advice to college students is: Don’t be scared about science and other unknown things. Go ahead and try it. Maybe it’s your way. Only you know about it.

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