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Chemistry Department

Rebecca J. Howard

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Office: Dana 218
Phone: 518-580-8191
Fax: 518-580-5139
Email: rhoward@skidmore.edu


At Skidmore since 2012

Affiliated Faculty, Skidmore College Neuroscience Program

Curriculum Vitae


The Howard research group uses simple model systems—including bacterial proteins, frog cells, and computer simulations—to study how drugs such as alcohol and anesthetics affect electrical signaling in the human brain. Our primary approach is two-electrode voltage clamp electrophysiology in oocytes from African clawed frogs, a straightforward but powerful method to study cellular electrochemical activity. Students in the Howard group have the opportunity to gain expertise in this widely used technique, as well as nucleic acid mutagenesis and purification, reagent preparation, electrophysiological measurements and analysis, protein oxidation and reduction, and molecular modeling and dynamics, among other things. Our research applies recent advances in biochemistry, chemical biology, pharmacology, and biophysics to the critical and fascinating subject of drug use and abuse. For example, we recently demonstrated that alcohol (ethanol) enhances the amount of current conducted by certain ion channel proteins. By mutating specific amino acid residues in these proteins, we are able to increase or decrease their sensitivity to alcohol. Using these data, we are collaborating with computational chemists to simulate the binding of alcohol to the protein. We are now testing the predictions of our binding models, and continuing to probe for additional important drug-protein interactions.


SELECTED PUBLICATIONS (*authors contributed equally to this work)