Alison Butler is a chemist recognized for her work on the bioinorganic chemistry and metallobiochemistry of the marine environment. Butler was born in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in Silver Spring, MD and La Jolla, CA. After graduating from Reed College, she completed her graduate studies in Chemistry & Biochemistry at UC San Diego, followed by postdoctoral fellowships at UCLA and Caltech. She joined the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at UC Santa Barbara in 1986 as an Assistant Professor. She is a recipient of the ACS Alfred Bader Award, an ACS Cope Scholar Award, the RSC Inorganic Reaction Mechanisms Award, the William H. Nichols Medal, and she is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the Royal Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences. She has been President of the Society of Biological Inorganic Chemistry, Chair of Section C (Chemistry) of the AAAS, and Chair of the Inorganic Chemistry Division of the ACS.

Research Interests

Alison Butler's research group is interested in the bioinorganic chemistry and metallobiochemistry in diverse environments in which the transition metal composition has been defined. Surface ocean water is distinguished by an abundance of molybdenum and vanadium, but the paucity if iron. In terms of an abundant transition metal ion, she has investigated the bioinorganic and bioorganic chemistry of vanadium haloperoxidases revealing their role in the biosynthesis of certain halogenated marine natural products. In terms of a scarce transition metal ion, she has investigated marine microbial siderophores, revealing new classes of self-assembling siderophores, including ones that are photoreactive when coordinated to iron(III), and ones with new iron(III)-coordinating ligands. Through microbial genome mining, her research group is focusing on the role of chirality both in siderophore ligands and at the iron(III) site on iron uptake.

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Primary Section

Section 14: Chemistry

Secondary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry