Chemistry research in the Burdette group occurs at the interface of synthesis, metal ion homeostasis & signaling, cell biology and photochemistry. The group is developing molecular tools that will facilitate efforts to map cellular metal ion signaling pathways, and understand the pathologies of neurodegenerative diseases. Of particular interest is the development of photocaged complexes that are capable of releasing zinc in a light-dependent manner in biological systems. These tools are designed and synthesized to optimize the temporal and spatial control of zinc release. In addition to photocaged complexes, the group has an ongoing interest in light-responsive metal organic frameworks. Based on earlier work on azobenzene derivatives with unique photochemistry, the group has designed, synthesized and characterized organic/inorganic hybrid materials with unique photophysical properties.
Shawn Burdette was born in Charleston, WV, and earned his BS in chemistry in 1997 from Case Western Reserve University where he worked for Prof. John D. Protasiewicz on multiple bonding between main group elements. He earned his PhD in 2003 under the direction of Stephen J. Lippard at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology working on zinc metalloneurochemistry and fluorescent sensors. As an NIH postdoctoral fellow in the laboratories of Jean Fréchet at the University of California, Berkeley, he worked on the design of catalytic dendrimers. Shawn began his independent career in 2005 and moved to WPI in 2011. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2015.