Watkins image


Department Head; Professor, Biochemistry
Year Started at JMU: 2014
Contact Info
Curriculum Vitae

Research Description

Research in the Watkins lab is focused on understanding the mechanism of bacterial desulfurization of fossil fuels. Thiophenic compounds, usually resistant to traditional desulfurization methods, are selectively desulfurized by bacterial systems containing the dsz genes. However, the expression levels of the gene, and the thermal stability, enzymatic rate and substrate selectivity of the enzymes involved limit the effectiveness of the system. Efforts to increase the effectiveness of this desulfurization method depend on a better understanding of the enzymes involved in the desulfurization process. Other areas of research include testing the ability of enzymes to modify monomers commonly used in polymer synthesis, and isolating and characterizing novel biodegradation enzymes from soil bacteria.

Related Scholarship
  • Enzymatic mechanisms of bacterial desulfurization of fossil fuels
  • Specificity of enzymes used in industrial synthesis reactions
  • Novel biodegradation pathways found in soil bacteria
  • PhD in Biochemistry, 1996, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN
  • BS in Biochemistry, 1989, Trinity University San Antonio, TX


Select Publications
  • Winfield, LL, Thomas, G, Watkins, LM, Wilson-Kennedy, ZS Eds. (2019) Growing Diverse STEM Communities: Methodology, Impact, and Evidence American Chemical Society Symposium Series Vol 1328, American Chemical Society DOI: 10.1021/bk-2019-1328
  • Griep MA, Watkins L. Eds. (2018). Best Practices for Chemistry REU Programs American Chemical Society Symposium Series Vol 1295, American Chemical Society DOI: 10.1021/bk-2018-1295
  • Watkins, L. M., (2009) “Strengthening Inter-institutional Ties: Extending Research Partnerships to a Two-Year Campus.” Broadening Participation in Undergraduate Research, M. Boyd and J. Wesemann, Eds., Council of Undergraduate Research, Washington, D.C.

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