Professor of Chemistry Kristina “Kicki” Håkansson has been awarded the 2016 Biemann Medal from the American Society for Mass Spectrometry. This prestigious prize is awarded to individuals early in their careers in recognition of significant achievements in basic or applied mass spectrometry. She will receive the award at the 2016 ASMS conference in June where she will give the Biemann Medal Lecture.   

She received the award for her work to develop and elucidate the mechanisms of electron-based activation methods, including electron capture dissociation, electron detachment dissociation, and electron induced dissociation. She has applied these electron-based activation methods to identify and characterize biological molecules from a number of classes, including peptides, oligonucleotides, and oligosaccharides.

The challenges associated with structural characterization of increasingly complex biological molecules has inspired the development of many new activation methods. Ones involving the attachment or detachment of an electron to an ion have shown great promise and have motivated renewed interest in gas-phase radical ion chemistry, both areas which are hallmarks of the Håkansson group. Dr. Håkansson has focused on deciphering the mechanisms of electronactivated dissociation and shown the outstanding utility of these methods for analysis of nucleic acids, oligosaccharides, and peptides including ones with labile modifications like phosphorylation. Negative ion electron capture dissociation (discovered in the Håkansson laboratory) in particular
has shown excellent performance for characterization of phosphorylated and sulfated peptides ionized in the negative mode.

Her group has also shown that electron-activated dissociation methods are gentle enough to allow preservation of higher order structures of nucleic acids.