Melissa Zastrow was born and
raised in East Haven, Connecticut. She earned her B.S. degree in
Chemistry from the University of Connecticut. As an
undergraduate, she worked with Prof. Isabelle Lagadic from
2005-2007, preparing silicate materials for encapsulating
pharmaceuticals. She was then accepted to an NSF-REU program for
the summer of 2007 and carried out microbiology and biochemistry
research with Prof. Ming Tien at The Pennsylvania State
University in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular
Biology. Following that, she joined the lab of Prof. Christian
Brückner at UConn where she prepared meso-tetraaryl porphyrins
as potential compounds for photodynamic cancer therapy. In 2008,
she enrolled in the graduate program in inorganic chemistry at
the University of Michigan and joined the lab of Prof. Vincent
Pecoraro. Her doctoral research focused on designing a family of
dual-site metallopeptides containing two separate metals in
different sites with distinct functions, one of which was a
hydrolytic zinc site with catalytic activity rivaling that of a
highly efficient enzyme. As part of the NIH Chemistry Biology
Interface Training Program, she took a brief research sabbatical
with Prof. Fraser Armstrong at Oxford University where she
carried out electrochemical studies on copper-binding peptides.
She received her Ph.D. in 2013, and then pursued postdoctoral
research from 2013-2017 as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow with Prof.
Stephen Lippard at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
There she developed fluorescent zinc sensors, including
reaction-based acetylated sensors for high zinc sensitivity and
novel small molecule-protein hybrid sensors for subcellular
targeting and ratiometric imaging. In August 2017, Melissa moved
to Houston, Texas and joined the faculty in the Department of
Chemistry at the University of Houston.