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Kelsey Kean, Ph.D.



Oregon State University


Marcey Waters, Ph.D.


I received a BS in Biochemistry from The University of Tulsa in 2012. I got my first taste of structural biology during an undergraduate summer research internship and followed this interest to graduate school at Oregon State University where I joined a protein crystallography lab. As a graduate student, I worked in the lab of Dr. Andy Karplus where my research focused on using protein crystallography to study structure-function relationships of a variety of proteins ranging from sedoheptulose 7-phosphate cyclases involved in natural product production to peroxiredoxins involved in signaling to carbonic anhydrase with applications in carbon sequestration. In 2018, I received my PhD in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Oregon State University. Now, as a post-doc I work in the lab of Dr. Marcey Waters in the Department of Chemistry. In the Waters lab, we are interested in understanding how epigenetic lysine methylation on histones, known to play key roles in gene regulation in both health and disease states, are added or removed (by writer and eraser proteins) and detected and interpreted (by reader proteins). Specifically, I am focused on characterizing and probing the binding mechanisms of different lysine methylation reader proteins using genetic code expansion, protein crystallography, and other biophysical techniques. Although I benefited from great teachers my entire life, I did not realize my own passion for teaching and STEM outreach until graduate school. As a graduate student, I had the opportunity to develop and implement active learning modules for a biochemistry course for non-majors as well as to contribute to a course-based undergraduate research experience in biochemistry and chemical biology. I also led the design and delivery of a week-long biochemistry summer camp for middle schoolers at OSU every summer. These profound and positive experiences to share my own passion for science and see the burgeoning enthusiasm for science in these young, future scientists along with my experiences as a TA and mentoring undergraduate researchers have made me certain that I want to pursue a career as both a researcher and an educator. As a SPIRE scholar, I am excited to continue to expand my training and experiences in both research and teaching. I am eager to have the opportunity to implement modern pedagogy in my own classroom as well as to work with and learn how to best promote the success of students from diverse backgrounds.


Fall 2020 Biological Chemistry – North Carolina Central University Spring 2020 Principles of Biology: Molecules and Cells – North Carolina Central University


Stingley KJ- Carpenter BA- Kean KM– Waters ML. Mismatched covalent and noncovalent templating leads to large coiled coil-templated macrocycles. Chemical science. 2023 May 10;14(18):4935-4944. PMCID: PMC10171189. 

Kean KM, Baril SA, Lamb KN, Dishman SN, Treacy JW, Houk KN, Brustad EM, James LI, Waters ML. Systematic Variation of Both the Aromatic Cage and Dialkyllysine via GCE-SAR Reveal Mechanistic Insights in CBX5 Reader Protein Binding. Journal of medicinal chemistry. 2022 February 10;65(3):2646-2655. PubMed PMID: 35014255; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC9048841; DOI: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.1c02049.