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The Amgen Scholars Program

2012 Amgen Scholars

Below are the participants in the 2012 University of Washington Amgen Scholars Summer Program.

Dorothy Ackerman
Institution: Northwest Nazarene University
Faculty Mentor: AJ Boydston

Dorothy is a rising senior at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, ID, where she is majoring in chemistry doing research involving the synthesis and characterization of several azopyridium chromophores. This summer, she is doing research with the Boydston group and will be focusing on how mechanical energy can be used to make and break chemical bonds, specifically to cause the depolymerization of a polymer with a particular trigger attached at one end. Growing up in Montana, Dorothy enjoys participating in many outdoor activities during her free time such as snowboarding, hiking, and rock climbing. Back in Idaho during school, Dorothy enjoys playing flute in the concert band, holding various leadership positions on campus, being an active member of NNU's Team SuperHydro, and being a teaching assistant for several chemistry labs and classes. Her favorite experience while in college has been getting the chance to float in zero gravity while being a member of Team SuperHydro and participating in NASA's SEED program. After attaining her bachelor's degree, Dorothy plans to pursue a PhD in organic chemistry and one day become a professor.

Sarah Barfield
Institution: Clemson University
Faculty Mentor: Matt Kaeberlein

Sarah Barfield is a biochemistry and genetics major at Clemson University, and will graduate in 2014. Her current research at Clemson University concerns molecular evolution in the plant genus Amaranthus. She has been characterizing a novel gene structure and splicing event in an important flavonoid related gene. As an Amgen scholar, Sarah is working in the lab of Dr. Matt Kaeberlein, where she is performing a genome wide RNAi screen of C. elegans in an effort to better define the components of the mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt). The UPRmt is of interest to the Kaeberlein lab because it has been implicated in promoting longevity in C. elegans. During her spare time when she is not working in the lab, Sarah enjoys swimming, hiking, playing the mandolin and clarinet, traveling, and trying new foods.

John Paul Bonadonna
Institution: University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Faculty Mentor: Horacio de la Iglesia

John Paul Bonadonna is a senior at the University of Michigan, studying Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience. This summer, he is working in the lab of Dr. Horacio de la Iglesia in the Department of Biology, studying the effects of sleep on the immune system, and vice versa. During his undergraduate career, John Paul has worked with Dr. Stephanie Brown and Dr. Sara Konrath at the University of Michigan, studying the physiological effects of altruism; as well as Dr. Denise Head at Washington University in St. Louis, studying the effects of normal and pathological aging on hippocampal integrity. After his undergraduate career, he plans to pursue an MD/PhD. In his free time, John Paul sings in an all-male a cappella group, The G-Men (thegmen.org), at the University of Michigan. John Paul also works to promote disability awareness on the University of Michigan campus with the Allies for Disability Awareness Community Organizing team (ADACO). His most recent project was organizing a conference and symposium on disability research.

Matt Doerfler
Institution: Northwestern University
Faculty Mentor: Dan Ratner

Matt Doerfler is a rising senior studying Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University. He is incredibly excited to be researching in a new field this summer. As an Amgen Scholar in Professor Dan Ratner's lab, he will be running data analyses on silicon microring resonators. These biosensors employ specific reactions to determine virus, protein, and pathogen concentrations in complex, biological serums. Matt enjoys playing for Northwestern's Ultimate Frisbee team, travelling with friends, and doing calligraphy and graphic art. He hopes to pursue an MD/PhD in the future and combine medicine with biotechnology.

Kenji Doering
Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Jens Gundlach

Kenji is an upcoming Junior from the University of Washington majoring in Biophysics and Mathematics. He is currently doing research in DNA sequencing using nanopores under the direction of Jens Gundlach, and the Gundlach lab group in the Department of Biophysics. His goal in life is to become a professor in physics or physician and personal interests involve soccer, ultimate frisbee, salsa dancing, physics, and is currently aspiring to be a top-notch juggler.

David Galvan
Institution: University of Arizona
Faculty Mentor: Bo Zhang

David was born in El Paso, Texas and shortly thereafter moved to Tucson, Arizona. He studies Chemical Engineering at the University of Arizona. He researched atmospheric degradation models of chemical species as well as biofuel created from waste organic material. This summer, David is researching under Dr. Bo Zhang. His role in this research is to create a nanowire array to be used in bipolar electrodes for imaging and detection of biological release processes. Outside the world of academia, David's interests revolve around music and outdoor activities. He is a percussionist and has participated in several local bands. He also enjoys watching and supporting local Tucson bands. Outdoors, David is an avid cyclist, skateboards and hikes. David likes to ride his dirt bike on the motocross tracks in Tucson, a sport he has been involved in since his early childhood.

Kelsey Haas
Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Judit Villen

Kelsey Haas is a rising senior at the University of Washington pursuing a major in Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Biology and a minor in French. As an Amgen Scholar, she is working in the Villen Lab on characterizing the signaling pathways of breast cancer cells. Her project involves using mass spectrometry to quantify the phosphoproteome of breast cancer cells, and identifying the downstream substrates of the PI3K/Akt pathway, an oncogenic kinase pathway mutated in cancerous cells. In the future, Kelsey plans to pursue a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology and a career in biomedical research. When time permits, she enjoys playing tennis and the violin, creating parodies of popular songs to be about biology and spending time with friends and family.

Erika Hayes
Institution: University of Puget Sound
Faculty Mentor: Hong Shen

Erika Hayes is a senior at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA where she is majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology and minoring in Spanish. She is working in the Shen Lab this summer, investigating the ability to manipulate the adaptive immune response based on controlling the T cell and aAPC interaction by altering substrate stiffness. Last summer, Erika was an intern at Seattle Genetics, where she worked under Dr. Ruby Casareno in BioProcess Development to establish a platform for antibody purification in preparation for drug conjugation. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a PhD. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, cooking, and playing sports.

Joseph Juliano
Institution: Arizona State University
Faculty Mentor: Kristin Swanson

Joe Juliano is a rising senior at Arizona State University with a major in biochemistry and a minor in mathematics. For the summer, Joe is working under Dr. Kristin Swanson investigating glioma mathematical models and MRI imaging in an effort to estimate certain parameters that might make the model more patient specific. He has plans to pursue either medical or graduate school utilizing mathematics in clinical research. During his spare time he enjoys playing the same chord on the guitar, hiking, cycling, and a good debate.

Mara Livezey
Institution: Kalamazoo College
Faculty Mentor: Rheem A. Totah

Mara Livezey is a rising senior majoring in chemistry and concentrating in biochemistry at Kalamazoo College. After graduation, she hopes to take a gap year to teach English in Macedonia before entering graduate school to pursue a PhD in biochemistry. Mara is most interested in the biochemistry of nutrition and how dietary factors can affect the way the body functions normally as well as in disease states. While in high school, Mara attended a professional ballet school in Toronto and she still continues to dance recreationally, in addition to co-directing the campus dance group at Kalamazoo. She also enjoys knitting and cooking (especially baking) in her free time.

Chinonso Opara
Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Bill Atkins

Chinonso Opara is a rising junior in the department of Biochemistry at the University of Washington. This summer, he is working in the lab of Dr. William Atkins on developing a novel method of quantifying the concentration of quantum dots, using various biophysical techniques. Quantum dots are small nanoparticles with the capability of fluorescing under ultraviolet light, and have several applications ranging from enhancing LED lighting to cellular imaging and drug delivery. Apart from working in the lab, Chinonso enjoys spending time with family and friends, running and playing piano and trombone. Also, among Chinonso's hobbies is music composition, which he began at the age of 11. Ever since, Chinonso has written several musical numbers for a wide array of instrumentation.

Ryan Powles
Institution: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Faculty Mentor: Stan Fields

Ryan Powles is a rising senior at Virginia Tech and lives in Blacksburg, Virginia. He is majoring in biology with a concentration in microbiology/immunology and minoring in chemistry and computer science. In his home institution he studies circadian rhythms and how they affect cell proliferation, breast cancer, and metabolic pathways in the cell using microarray data and biochemical assays. At the Fields lab this summer, Ryan will be working with high throughput sequence technology to analyze the effect of mutated ubiquitin (a small protein found in high concentrations in Alzheimer's patients) on yeast knock-out libraries. He hopes to go to graduate school and pursue a PhD in computational biology and bioinformatics. When not hard at work in the lab, Ryan enjoys movies, drumming, and learning about video game theory and design.

Isaac Rockafellow
Institution: University of Iowa
Faculty Mentor: Paul Yager

Isaac Rockafellow will be a 5th year senior majoring in biochemistry and microbiology at the University of Iowa, with minors in Russian and Chemistry. In his free-time, Isaac is an avid juggler and enjoys sharing vaguely relevant cultural facts about his home state with the uninitiated. He appreciates medium-length walks along the beach and overly personal program biographies. At his home lab, Isaac studies ECF Sigma Factors a class of signaling molecules in bacteria that respond to outer membrane stress. At the UW this summer, he will be working in the Yager Lab developing RNA purification techniques for the production of low-cost medical diagnostics made from paper. He hopes that this summer will introduce him to the myriad of ways that science can support social justice and global health.

Guillermo Romano
Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Dustin Maly

Guillermo Romano is a rising senior at the University of Washington, working on a double degree in Public Health and Biochemistry. This summer he is working in the Maly lab to synthesize a small molecule capable of profiling Sarcoma Family Kinases. Guillermo, born in Mexico, has had the opportunity to live in Arizona, Iowa, and Canada in addition to his time spent in Seattle. Guillermo is considering enrolling in an MD/PhD program to pursue his interests in medical research. In his spare time, Guillermo enjoys swimming in cold lakes and cycling in Seattle rain. He enjoys watching movies and is an avid history buff.

Maya Sangesland
Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Peter Rabinovitch

Maya is a senior at the University of Washington, Seattle, majoring in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. During the school year, she studies protein interactions during early developmental processes in zebrafish. This summer, Maya is working in the Rabinovitch lab and is studying how redox signaling changes in the context of hypertrophy, aging and mitochondrial dysfunction. Maya has a black belt in tae kwon do and outside of school she volunteers at the local animal shelter and at an agency that assists Asian Pacific Islander immigrants and refugees. Her hobbies include snuggling with her pets, reading, drinking coffee, and traveling the world. After completing her undergraduate degree, she hopes to pursue a PhD in the biological sciences.

Christine Shieh
Institution: University of California - Berkeley
Faculty Mentor: Lynn Schnapp

Christine Shieh is a rising senior from UC Berkeley majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology with a minor in Nutritional Science. She is working in Dr. Lynn Schnapp's lab and will attempt to clone full length uPARAP into a mammalian expression vector for further experimental purposes. uPARAP is a 180kD transmembrane receptor that is expressed in mesenchymal tissue in areas such as the lungs for the purpose of collagen turnover, among other functions. Outside of lab, Christine likes to run, read, and paint. She also enjoys teaching classes and tutoring organic chemistry for her school. In the future, Christine would like to try clinical research and also do research in the field of oncology.

Stephanie Simek
Institution: The College of St. Scholastica
Faculty Mentor: Michael Regnier

Stephanie Simek is a rising senior at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth Minnesota, where she is majoring in exercise physiology. Her time spent as a teacher's assistant in the undergraduate human cadaver lab has sparked her interest in pursuing a career that explores physiology and pathology. As an Amgen Scholar, she is working with Dr. Michael Regnier in the department of Bioengineering. The Regnier lab studies the nucleotide 2-deoxy-ATP and its effects on muscle contraction. Ultimately, the lab wants to use their findings to develop better therapeutics that improve cardiac muscle contractility for people who have suffered myocardial infarctions. Stephanie's hobbies include running, volleyball, camping and kayaking. She enjoys volunteering at her community youth center, where she spends her time playing football, basketball, foosball and board games with high school students.

Denis Smirnov
Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Champak Chatterjee

Denis Smirnov is a rising junior at the University of Washington studying biochemistry and neurobiology. He is working with Dr. Chatterjee in the Department of Chemistry to investigate the ubiquitin-like protein degradation pathway in Mycobacerium tuberculosis, through mechanistic studies of the ligase enzyme PafA. Current research is aimed at working to determine the substrate scope of PafA by using novel chemical tools to monitor enzyme activity. In his free time, Denis enjoys a good game of racquetball and playing jazz guitar.

Louis Smith
Institution: Columbia University
Faculty Mentor: Hannele Ruohola-Baker

Louis is majoring in biological sciences at Columbia University, and plans to pursue a career in scientific research with the objective of becoming a university professor. Louis first became interested in biological research in after taking a particularly well-taught class in high school that exposed him to the intricate and multifaceted mechanics of cellular and molecular biology. From that point, a general intrigue with the scientific process and constant fascination with biological phenomenon have driven Louis' interest in biotechnology research. While constantly discovering new and interesting areas of research, Louis is particularly interested in synthetic biology and stem cell signaling & epigenetics. Over the summer, Louis will be working on a project investigating the role of micro RNAs in stem cell function. Outside of biological research topics, Louis is also especially intrigued with the manner that biology is communicated to students and everyday people. When not studying some facet of molecular biology, Louis enjoys traveling, backpacking, biking, and martial arts.

Rianne Stowell
Institution: Moravian College
Faculty Mentor: Gwenn Garden

Rianne Stowell is a rising senior double majoring in neuroscience and Spanish at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She recently returned from five months in Spain where she studied at the Universidad de Sevilla. While there she enjoyed her time working in a lab researching Parkinson's and practicing her Spanish. Here at UW she is working in the Garden Lab researching Huntington's disease. Her project involves looking at the effects of mutant huntingtin on IGF1 (insulin-like growth factor) receptors in a mouse model of the disease. After graduating Rianne wants to pursue a PhD in neuroscience and continue studying neurodegenerative disorders. In her free time she enjoys drawing, reading, running, and dancing.

Kendrick Tang
Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Eric Shea-Brown

Kendrick is a rising junior at the University of Washington. He is currently pursuing a double degree in comprehensive mathematics and electrical engineering. During the summer he will be working with professor Eric Shea-Brown in the department of applied mathematics and working on computational neurobiology. More specifically, he is working with Yu, a Ph.D student, and looking at correlations between the structure of neural networks and patterns in firing. In his free time Kendrick likes to do math and will be preparing for the Putnam exam during the summer and fall.

Mitchell Truong
Institution: Oregon State University
Faculty Mentor: Danilo C. Pozzo

Mitchell is a chemical engineering student from Oregon State University. On campus, he is an active member of OSU's AIChE and Tau Beta Pi Student Chapters. His research interests are in interfacial science and its application to developing engineering solutions. Previously, he has worked in the OSU Biomaterials and Biointerfaces lab on projects involving reduction of surface fouling of blood contacting medical devices. This summer, Mitchell is working in Dr. Danilo Pozzo's lab on a project studying the synthesis of nanoparticle-surfactants and their controlled assembly into multi-particle structures with adjustable optical properties. Outside of the lab and the classroom Mitchell enjoys lifting weights, hiking, and playing tennis.

Sara Tweedy
Institution: Harvey Mudd College
Faculty Mentor: Xiaosong Li

Sara is a rising Junior at Harvey Mudd College majoring in chemistry. She is interested in both the biochemical and computational sides of chemistry, so last Summer she studied structure/function properties of the B-12 dependent enzyme IcmF in the Banerjee lab in the biological chemistry department at the University of Michigan. This summer, however, she is exploring theoretical chemistry in the Li Lab. She is modeling optical and magnetic properties of doped quantum dots with extra electrons. She plans on pursuing a PhD in chemistry focusing on at least one of these areas. Outside of lab, Sara's passion in soccer, and she plays soccer for her school's athletic program. She also enjoys playing many other sports for fun, as well as playing the French Horn and hanging out with her friends when she has the time.

Lisa Volpatti
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Faculty Mentor: Suzie Hwang Pun

Lisa Volpatti is a rising senior at the University of Pittsburgh where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering with minors in Bioengineering, Polymer Engineering, and Chemistry. During her summer at UW, she is working for Dr. Suzie Pun in the Department of Bioengineering. Lisa's project involves researching a novel polymeric gene delivery system which will be used for the treatment of diseases by transferring DNA into a specific subset of the patient's cells. At Pitt, Lisa conducts research in the Wang Lab on fabricating rapidly degradable scaffolds for soft tissue engineering applications. After graduating, she plans to further her education with the ultimate goal of obtaining a Ph.D. in either Bioengineering or Chemical Engineering.

Jenny Wohlman
Institution: Pacific Lutheran University
Faculty Mentor: Hannele Ruohola-Baker

Jenny Wohlman is a rising junior at Pacific Lutheran University located in Tacoma, WA, where she is pursuing a degree in Biology. This summer, she is excited to learn and work in Dr. Hannele Ruohola-Baker's lab located in the Institute for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine on South Lake Union. The project she is participating in is focused on studying the effects of the 515 family of miRNA on inducing pluripotency in human fibroblast cells. In her free time, Jenny enjoys running, yoga, baking, and reading.