Dan Wacks

Professor, Chemistry

Dan Wacks


Ph.D. in Biochemistry, University of California, Berkeley, 1983;

B.A. in Chemistry (Biochemistry option), Northwestern University, 1976


Chemistry, Hedco Hall
P: 909.748.8549
P: 909-748-8370
E: daniel_wacks@redlands.edu

Current Research

I do research in the area of bacteriology, studying metabolic strategies used by Sinorhizobium meliloti, a nitrogen-fixing symbiont of alfalfa, in its efforts to survive and compete in the soil, in the rhizosphere, and in the plant.

Description of Research

Presently I am pursuing two projects. First, I am investigating the means by which the bacterium S. meliloti controls the expression of genes for catabolism when glucose is available. My general approach is to search for mutations that render the organism unable to exert such glucose-mediated control as a means by which gene products critical to the process can be identified. Second, I am studying the effects of mutations in the Entner-Doudoroff pathway of glucose metabolism on the ability of S. meliloti to use disaccharides as osmoprotectants and on the symbiotic relationship between S. meliloti and alfalfa. Prior to coming the University of Redlands, I did research on S. meliloti genes that might code for plant cell wall-degrading enzymes (postdoctoral work in the lab of Dr. Ethan Signer at M.I.T.), the control of carbon metabolism in the photosynthetic microorganism Rhodospirillum rubrum (postdoctoral research with Dr. Paul Ludden at the University of Wisconsin at Madison), the production of plant hormones by S. meliloti (postdoctoral research with Dr. Winston Brill and Dr. Paul Ludden at the University of Wisconsin at Madison), and on structural changes resulting from the binding of substrates and regulatory compounds to the enzyme aspartate transcarbamoylase (doctoral research with Dr. Howard Schachman at the University of California, Berkeley).


Courses Taught

CHEM 102 – Environmental Chemistry (nonmajors' course)

CHEM 108 – The Science of Drugs (nonmajors' course)

CHEM 131 and 131L – General Chemistry lecture and lab, first semester

CHEM 132 – General Chemistry, second semester

CHEM 320 and 320L – Biochemistry and Biochemistry Lab


Previous Teaching Experience

University of California, Berkeley, Department of Biochemistry: graduate teaching assistant for biochemistry lecture, biochemistry lab, and a biochemistry seminar.

Professional Experience

1989 to 1991 Cytozyme Laboratories: research scientist (research on plant-growth promoting bacteria, bioassay development) and research director (supervision of quality control, product improvement, and product claim support).


Selco, J. I, Roberts, J. L., Jr., and Wacks, D. B. 2003. "The Analysis of Seawater: A Laboratory-Centered Learning Project in General Chemistry." J. Chem. Ed. 80: 54-57.

Roberts, J.L., Selco, J.I., and Wacks, D.B. 1996. "Mother Earth Chemistry: a laboratory course for nonmajors." J. Chem. Ed. 73: 779-781.

Leach, F., Wacks, D.B., and Signer, E.R. 1994. "Rhizobium meliloti homologs of Escherichia coli mur genes." Gene 148: 87-90.

Signer, E. R., Sharma, S. B., Williams, M. N. V., Bent, A., Clover, R., Wacks, D. B., Kieber, J. and Klein, S. 1988. "Search for new symbiotic genes in Rhizobium meliloti." In R. Palacios and D. P. Verma (ed.), Molecular genetics of plant-microbe interactions, pp. 20-25. APS Press, St. Paul, MN.

Wacks, Daniel B. and Schachman, H. K. 1985. "19F Nuclear magnetic resonance studies of fluorotyrosine-labeled aspartate transcarbamoylase. Properties of the enzyme and its catalytic and regulatory subunits." J. Biol. Chem. 260:11651-11658

Wacks, Daniel B. and Schachman, H. K. 1985. "19F nuclear magnetic resonance studies of communication between catalytic and regulatory subunits in aspartate transcarbamoylase." J. Biol. Chem. 260:11659-11662.

Student Publications

Several of my summer research students have presented their work at the Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research:

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  1. Daniel J. Orr 2008. "An Investigation of Disaccharide-Induced Osmoprotection in Sinorhizobium meliloti." 16th Annual Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California.

  2. Ancil Philip 1999. "Catabolite Repression in Sinorhizobium meliloti: Identification of Genes Under Succinate or Glucose Control." 7th Annual Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California.

  3. Joseph Pearson 1999. "Control of Carbon Metabolism in Sinorhizobium meliloti." 7th Annual Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California.

Awards, Honors, Grants

1989: Vector Laboratories Young Investigator Travel Award for the 1989 meeting of the American Society for Microbiology

1982: National Research Service Award, National Institute of General Medical Sciences (activated 1983)

1976: Phi Beta Kappa, Northwestern University

Invited Presentations

Wacks, D. B. (presenter), Lopez, M. F. and Signer, E. 1989. "Genes in Rhizobium meliloti homologous to pel genes from Erwinia chrysanthemi." Presented as part of a session entitled "Molecular Biology of Cell Wall Degrading Enzymes" at the 1989 Annual Meeting of the American Phytopathological Society.