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  1. ABSTRACT A major challenge for science educators is teaching foundational concepts while introducing their students to current research. Here we describe an active learning module developed to teach protein structure fundamentals while supporting ongoing research in enzyme discovery. It can be readily implemented in both entry-level and upper-division college biochemistry or biophysics courses. Preactivity lectures introduced fundamentals of protein secondary structure and provided context for the research projects, and a homework assignment familiarized students with 3-dimensional visualization of biomolecules with UCSF Chimera, a free protein structure viewer. The activity is an online survey in which students compare structure elements in papain, a well-characterized cysteine protease from Carica papaya, to novel homologous proteases identified from the genomes of an extremophilic microbe (Halanaerobium praevalens) and 2 carnivorous plants (Drosera capensis and Cephalotus follicularis). Students were then able to identify, with varying levels of accuracy, a number of structural features in cysteine proteases that could expedite the identification of novel or biochemically interesting cysteine proteases for experimental validation in a university laboratory. Student responses to a postactivity survey were largely positive and constructive, describing points in the activity that could be improved and indicating that the activity was an engaging way to learn about protein structure. 
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  2. The emerging technique of mid-infrared optical coherence tomography (MIR-OCT) takes advantage of the reduced scattering of MIR light in various materials and devices, enabling tomographic imaging at deeper penetration depths. Because of challenges in MIR detection technology, the image acquisition time is, however, significantly longer than for tomographic imaging methods in the visible/near-infrared. Here we demonstrate an alternative approach to MIR tomography with high-speed imaging capabilities. Through femtosecond nondegenerate two-photon absorption of MIR light in a conventional Si-based CCD camera, we achieve wide-field, high-definition tomographic imaging with chemical selectivity of structured materials and biological samples in mere seconds.

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  3. The highly infectious disease COVID-19 caused by the Betacoronavirus SARS-CoV-2 poses a severe threat to humanity and demands the redirection of scientific efforts and criteria to organized research projects. The international COVID19-NMR consortium seeks to provide such new approaches by gathering scientific expertise worldwide. In particular, making available viral proteins and RNAs will pave the way to understanding the SARS-CoV-2 molecular components in detail. The research in COVID19-NMR and the resources provided through the consortium are fully disclosed to accelerate access and exploitation. NMR investigations of the viral molecular components are designated to provide the essential basis for further work, including macromolecular interaction studies and high-throughput drug screening. Here, we present the extensive catalog of a holistic SARS-CoV-2 protein preparation approach based on the consortium’s collective efforts. We provide protocols for the large-scale production of more than 80% of all SARS-CoV-2 proteins or essential parts of them. Several of the proteins were produced in more than one laboratory, demonstrating the high interoperability between NMR groups worldwide. For the majority of proteins, we can produce isotope-labeled samples of HSQC-grade. Together with several NMR chemical shift assignments made publicly available on , we here provide highly valuable resources for the production of SARS-CoV-2 proteins in isotope-labeled form. 
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