Carol Fierke, chair of the Department of Chemistry who is known for her engaging style of teaching, cutting-edge research and efforts to diversify the department, will discuss protein modifications in her Distinguished University Professor lecture, “Cellular Functions of Post-translational Modifications of Proteins.”

Distinguished University Professor is the highest professorial title granted at U-M. Fierke is the Jerome and Isabella Karle Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry. The lecture will be at 4 p.m. April 10 in the Alumni Center Founders Room. A reception will follow the lecture, which is free and open to the public.

Carol Fierke

“I am extremely honored and pleased to be included among the outstanding group of Distinguished University Professors at Michigan,” Fierke says. “I am very thankful to the chemistry department faculty for nominating me and to the university community for awarding me this distinction.”

Fierke draws from biochemistry, cell biology, enzymology and physical organic chemistry to research fundamental details of cellular function. She has clarified characteristics of protein and nucleic acid-catalyzed reactions and enhanced knowledge about metal ion homeostasis in cells.

In her talk, she will present recent work examining the molecular recognition and biological function of enzymes that regulate post-translational modifications of proteins, including lipidation and deacetylation.

In 2012 the American Chemical Society presented her its Repligen Award for outstanding contributions to the understanding of biological processes. In February she was awarded the Emil Thomas Kaiser Award from the Protein Society for exceptional contributions to the application of chemistry to studying proteins. 

Known as an engaging and rigorous teacher, Fierke has championed curricular innovations and new courses. She has mentored 19 postdoctoral fellows, 39 graduate students and 45 undergraduate researchers in her laboratory, taking a personal interest in the careers of each.

Chair of the department since 2005, Fierke is credited with working to improve its reputation, funding, diversity and faculty mentoring. She has worked with the U-M ADVANCE program since 2001, including serving as a member of the STRIDE committee.

Her efforts to expand opportunities for women and minorities in the sciences have been recognized with U-M’s Hollenshead Award for Promoting Equity & Social Change, Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award, Sarah Goddard Power Award and Rackham Distinguished Mentoring Award.

An American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow, she has received many other honors, including the Packard Fellowship, the American Heart Association Established Investigator Award and the U-M Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award. 

She has published more than 200 articles in “Science, Journal of the American Chemical Society” and other top journals. Active in a number of professional organizations, she was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of Biological Chemistry and co-chaired the 2013 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology national meeting.