Undergraduate Research Program

URL profiles

2014-2015

Erica Alcantara

Alcantara, Erica 70x90


Major:
Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Minors: Bioethics and Humanities
Mentors: Maitreya Dunham, Aaron Miller

Contact: ea31994@uw.edu


Current research project
Characterization of Replicate Evolutions of S. cerevisiae Under Constant Nutrient-Limitation

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
In the laboratory of Maitreya Dunham, my work is focused on learning about the forces that shape evolution. Specifically, I work with my graduate student mentor (Aaron Miller) to identify the spectrum of mutations that arise in yeast when it is grown in nutrient-limited environments. Our method of growth could be likened to the yeast version of ‘The Hunger Games’ wherein yeast cells fight one another for limited nutrients. Mutants that arise and are more fit grow in prevalence in the population, and then we characterize the adaptive mutations from these evolved populations using a variety of methods including whole genome sequencing. In addition, we test these evolving populations to study how fit the winners are compared to the ancestral cells from which they were derived. More recently, I have also helped with the study of compensatory evolution to see what alternative mutations come up when those that are most common are removed.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
If you’re interested in working in a lab but aren’t quite sure how to get started, I highly encourage you to get involved in the UW iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) Team. I joined as a freshman with zero research experience and was able to learn about synthetic biology and basic wet lab techniques from the graduate student advisers and older undergraduates. We spent most of summer quarter working on our project, but we ended our experience by flying to Toronto to present at the regional jamboree. Overall, it was an extremely memorable and valuable experience, and I’m still applying things I learned from iGEM to my classes and my research at the Dunham Lab.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
Back in freshman year, I took the EFS class CSI: Seattle. It was incredibly interesting but also very challenging, so I would often attend office hours for help. In the process, I was able to get to know my TAs, ask them about the cool research they did as Genome Sciences graduate students, and express my own interest in getting involved in research. I never had any opportunities to do hands-on lab research in high school, so I was eager to come to a university so supportive of undergraduate research. Aaron, one of my TAs, plugged me into the UW iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) Team, and this experience helped me learn the basics of wet lab work and synthetic biology. A few months later, Aaron contacted me about doing experimental evolution research with him and a few other undergrads in the Dunham Lab. I’ve been working with and learning from our little team ever since and have loved it!

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
Presenting at last year’s Undergraduate Research Symposium has got to be the highlight of my research experience. I remember being so nervous right before my poster session because I was worried that no one would come talk to me or that someone would come and ask me a question I couldn’t answer. I ended up being absolutely floored by all the support I got from my friends that day. By the end of my session, my throat was sore from giving my spiel over and over, and my feet were tired from standing for an hour and a half, but I was incredibly happy to have gotten the chance to share my research with some of the best people I know.


Ian Andrews

Andrews, Ian
Major:  Bioengineering
Mentor:  Dr. Barry Lutz

Contact: iandrews@uw.edu

 

 

Current research project
Development of a Low-Cost Multiplexable Assay for Drug-Resistant HIV

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HIV remains a serious health challenge, particularly in developing countries. This can be attributed in part to the fact that many diagnostic procedures that are common here in the United States are too expensive and technically complex to be practical in low-resource settings. My work focuses on using paper-based microfluidics to design diagnostic tests that meet the necessary criteria to be useful in these settings.  My current work is focused specifically on addressing the problem of drug-resistant HIV that is beginning to emerge in low-resource settings. By participating in this research I hope to make a significant contribution in the development of these devices that have the potential to save countless numbers of lives in the fight against HIV.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Don’t be afraid to dive right in and give it a shot! While it may sound intimidating at first, research can be one of the most rewarding parts of your college experience. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch!

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
All throughout high school I participated in research at a local NOAA lab for my regional science fair. As a result, when I got to the UW I knew that I wanted to get involved in research right away. I started off as a freshman in Dr. Suzie Pun’s lab working on polymer-based drug delivery. Then as a sophomore, I transferred into Dr. Barry Lutz’s lab to work on developing diagnostic devices for low-resource settings. I found both of my labs through a combination of looking at the web pages of faculty, consulting with my departmental advisor, and through talking to upperclassmen in my department.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
One of the most exciting things about undergraduate research to me is the chance to apply knowledge from classes in a practical setting. I have found that because of this I have gained a deeper appreciation for what I learn in classes. At the same time, it is also exciting when something that I have been working on for research shows up in a class because I already have a far more extensive understanding of those principles than if I would have just read them out of a textbook.


Lauren Beyerle

Beyerle, Lauren 70x90
Major: 
Biology (Physiology)
Minor: Global Health
Mentor: Dr. Pamela Becker

Contact: beyerl@uw.edu


Current research project
Mobilization of Blasts and Leukemia Stem Cells by Anti-CXCR4 Antibody BMS-936564 (MDX 1338) in Patients With Relapsed/Refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia

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Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a heterogeneous clonal disorder of hematopoietic progenitor cells, also known as “blasts,” that fail both to differentiate normally and to properly respond to normal proliferation regulators. The consequences include possible organ infiltration as well as impairment of normal blood cell production that can result in fatal infection or bleeding. Retention of leukemia cells within the bone marrow microenvironment enables survival from chemotherapy treatment. This retention is largely mediated by surface membrane receptors, such as the chemokine receptor CXCR4. Our objective is to assess the functionality of an anti-CXCR4 antibody, BMS-936564, to enhance chemotherapy cytotoxicity, and ultimately to overcome adhesion-mediated chemotherapy resistance in order to improve outcomes for patients with AML.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to PIs (Principle Investigators) and don’t be discouraged when you don’t hear back immediately or from every one that you originally contacted. Sometimes it takes longer than you originally expected to fall into the research field that you want, but once you get there it will be completely worth the time and effort.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved with research towards the end of my sophomore year. I was always interested in science and fascinated with medicine and wanted to find a way to get involved with medicine at its foundation. This is what had drawn me towards my current PI’s lab, where cancer treatment and development are the main focus. I’ve been able to interact with patients in a new way and look at medicine in a whole new light.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most exciting thing for me, in terms of my undergraduate research, is knowing that my research is being used for patients immediately, since it involves a drug used during clinical trials. I like knowing that I can potentially lengthen and improve the life of another human being. Additionally, an exciting point in my research was when our clinical trial drug officially became FDA-approved.


 Elise Butterfield

Elise Butterfield URL pic


Majors:
International Studies and Dance
Minor: Spanish
Mentor: Hannah Wiley

Contact: emb24@uw.edu
 

Current research project
Dance research through embodiment with the Chamber Dance Company

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I study the political, social, and historical context of the dance works the Chamber Dance Company is presenting in order to better understand their substance and significance. I work with professors, MFA candidates in the UW dance program, and visiting dance scholars and performers. Additionally, I consult video and written documents relating to the works I am studying. The results of my research are used in rehearsals and performances, as well as documented in the form of an essay.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
To put yourself out there and find a listing on the URP website or meet with an adviser or professor who has similar interests to you. There are so many wonderful people and resources on campus that can help you get your foot in the door, allowing you to begin to pursue your passions outside of the classroom.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most exciting part of doing research as an undergraduate for me has been getting to meet and exchange ideas with some of the most prominent and important contemporary figures in dance scholarship and be treated as a peer.


Lauren Cambronero

Cambronero, Lauren 70X90


Majors:
History, Political Science
Mentors: Tony Lucero, Maria-Elena Garcia, Annie Dwyer, Dian Million

Contact: lcam7461@uw.edu
 
 

Current research project
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Filipino Indigineity in the Diaspora

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My research is interested in examining the possibilities for indigeneity for Filipino Americans living in the diaspora. I drew upon my own experience as a participant in the 2013 Filnight, which is an annual showcase at the University of Washington hosted by the Filipino American Student Association. This annual performance is most significant for reclaiming and celebrating culturally hybrid identities, allowing Filipino Americans to understand their stories through relevant Filipino values and histories. I examined the Filnight through the lens of three interlocked Borromean rings to conceptualize the linkages through storytelling, the spectator-performer relationship, and visual performance. Lastly, my research incorporated Filipino Psychology for reference and guidance in studying cultural performance in the diaspora, providing the context for my study.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research after applying for the Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities, which I felt would be an academically rigorous challenge that would benefit my studies.

What is the most challenging and/or sometimes frustrating aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most rewarding and challenging aspect of my undergraduate research experience was the learning process. Researching a topic in-depth allows you to critically understand multiple viewpoints within your area of study. It can also become challenging when your research goes against your whole argument. You must learn to both reconcile these conflicting ideas and realize that there may not be one “true” or “right” answer to everything. Instead, it’s the progress and work within the learning process which becomes the ultimate reward.


Ryan Carlson

Carlson, Ryan 70X90


Majors:
 Neurobiology, Biochemistry
Mentors: Chet Moritz (PI), Aiva Ievins, Michael Sunshine

Contact: rjc630@uw.edu
 
 
 
Current research project
Developing A Brain-Machine-Spinal Interface (BMSI) to Reanimate Forelimb After Spinal Cord Injury

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My goal is to develop a device that is capable of using recorded neural data in the cortex to drive spinal stimulation, in order to reanimate limbs that have lost function due to spinal cord injury. This device will use data recorded in the motor cortex to decode movement intention in order to deliver movement-evoking spinal stimulation in real time.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Do as much reading as you can before pursuing a lab. A thorough look at the literature will help you determine which lab is right for you as well as what you are interested in.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I joined my current lab half way through my second year at UW, after learning about what other undergraduates had accomplished through research. I wanted to contribute to science in the same way as other undergrads before me.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most exciting aspect of research to me is that it provides the opportunity to discuss current research breakthroughs alongside individuals/mentors that are truly experts in the field. I have learned so much from them, through discussion of new research papers as well as working with them on our own research everyday.


Elizabeth Chang

Chang, Elizabeth 70x90


Majors:
Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Biochemistry
Mentor: Tony Blau, MD

Contact: ejc1122@uw.edu
 
 

Current research project
Isolation of CTCs for Genetic Analysis

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We work on technology to isolate circulating tumor cells from patient blood, with the end goal of using those cells and their genetic information to better understand how each cancer patient should be treated.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Be prepared to feel like you don’t know anything, because when you first start out, you really don’t. Everyone makes mistakes when they first start doing research, but the best part is learning to get a handle on things and eventually actually contributing.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I started doing research my freshman year in a Pulmonary and Critical Care lab at Harborview. For me, it was an opportunity to a) see if I might like science as a career and b) put what I was learning in class to some practical applications. I worked there for two years, and after my project was finished, I came over to the biotech startup where I am now!

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most rewarding part of doing undergrad research is getting to feel like you’re part of advancing science. Getting to see the things you only hear and talk about in class be used to discover new and exciting things is such a privilege.


Krittika D’Silva

Krittika D'Silva URL pic
Majors: Bioengineering, Computer Engineering
Mentor: Joan Sanders

Contact: kdsilva@uw.edu
 
 

Current research project
Characterizing Phases of the Gait Cycle among Individuals with Lower Limb Amputations

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I conduct research on individuals with below-the-knee amputations. Currently, our work focuses on using force sensors within prosthetic sockets to collect data as individuals sit, stand, and walk. We are working on the development of software to categorize each phase. The motivation is to use the information while monitoring natural changes in swelling of the residual limb to ultimately develop sockets that are more robust and flexible.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
It may seem intimidating at first and it can be easy to put off, but if you have even the slightest interest in being involved in undergraduate research, start as early as you can! The earlier you start the earlier you can learn the necessary skills to contribute and make a difference. Research can provide you with many wonderful learning opportunities and there are so many ways for you to get involved at UW!

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I began working in my lab during the fall quarter of my freshman year. It began with a simple email to a faculty member within the Department of Bioengineering whose work I found interesting. At the time, I liked the idea of doing focused and innovative research work while contributing to the field I was studying. I definitely didn’t do that immediately, but I’m working my way towards achieving that goal!

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
One of the most exciting experiences I’ve had during my undergraduate career was presenting my work at a conference last year. It was a great opportunity that allowed me to practice sharing my research with others and talking to a large audience, both of which seemed very daunting to me initially.


Matthew Ellis

Ellis, Matthew
Majors:
Chemistry, Biochemistry
Minors: History, Mathematics
Mentors: Gabriele Varani (PI), Vu Chen (post-doc)

Contact: mellis25@uw.edu

 

Current research project
New Potential Inhibitor of miRNA-21 Biogenesis

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Our goal is to repurpose established protein systems so that they are able to act on target miRNA sequences and inhibit their maturation. Essentially, we perform point mutations on proteins, express those proteins to ensure stability of the new design and then test the binding affinity on new target sequences to see if specificity has been altered.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
I would say start early and allow enough time for research to get something out of the experience. If you cannot devote enough time to become invested in the research, it will not be as rewarding of an experience as if you had; it is never too late to switch research projects if you find yourself disinterested.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I became involved with undergraduate research the summer following my sophomore year through sending email correspondence to an array of professors until I found a good match with my interests. Many of my friends had had good experiences with research and I felt that its providing of a source of hands-on applications of my theoretical knowledge was a good preparatory step for my future.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most exciting aspect of my undergraduate experience probably was while I was just starting out and learning techniques for protein expression and purification and then attending biochemistry lecture and learning about the same techniques in class. It was really interesting to have an exact correlation between my studies and the research I was performing.


Paige Haas

Paige Haas URL pic
Major:
Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Mentor: Robert Steiner

Contact: haasp2@uw.edu
 
 

Current research project
Sexual Differentiation of Kiss1 Expression in the Mouse Brain

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Reproduction is regulated by the brain. I study the neurotransmitter kisspeptin, which is encoded by the Kiss1 gene and is required for puberty. Expression of the Kiss1 gene is sexually differentiated – females have higher levels of mRNA transcript than males. My research focuses on the molecular mechanisms that explain when and how this happens.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Don’t get discouraged! The application process isn’t easy and it’s hard to face rejection, but things work out for the best. When I was looking for a position, I interviewed for a lab where I would have been mostly washing dishes. I didn’t get the job. A month later I got a position in the Steiner lab, and I couldn’t be happier with the learning environment and my experience there. Cheesy line of advice: trust in the process!

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergrad research in Autumn 2012, at the beginning of my sophomore year. I have loved biology since high school and knew coming into UW that I wanted to participate in research. Taking a hands-on approach to concepts from class was always exciting to me, and undergraduate research has become my favorite experience in my time so far at UW.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
One of the coolest things about research is the connection you make with UW faculty. My first impression of my PI was while I was interviewing for a position in his lab. He explained that research is a unique educational experience that “levels the playing field” between professors and students, because no one knows the answer to the question being investigated. I think that concept is unique to research and something really worth experiencing. At a large university like UW, it can be hard to make connections with faculty, and undergrad research is a great way to change that.


Dory Harris

Dory Harris URL pic
Major: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Minor: Quantitative Science
Mentor: Chris Hague

Contact: daah@uw.edu

 

Current research project
Characterizing the Role of the PDZ-Binding Motif of Adrenergic Receptors in vitro

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) are transmembrane receptors that illicit a cellular response when activated by hormones, drugs, or neurotransmitters. These receptors are vital to maintaining homeostasis. On the end of some GPCRs is a short sequence of DNA. Despite these receptors belonging to very different cells (i.e. heart, brain, lung cells), this sequence is exactly the same. Our laboratory is studying the purpose of this sequence for possible drug targets such as beta blockers, antidepressants, and asthma medication. These new drugs could have less side effects than current drugs on the market.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Relax, take your time when it comes to finding a laboratory. Focus on finding the right fit instead of just forcing yourself into a laboratory. Also, it is okay to want to switch to a new laboratory. You have to do what will benefit your future. Have fun with it!

What is the most challenging and/or sometimes frustrating aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most challenging part of research is learning to fail. You will fail more than you succeed when you are working on a research project and you have to learn to be okay with this fact. However, perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of research is when you do succeed. An exciting thing to think about when you consider research is that you are doing something that no one else has ever done!


Darren Hou

Hou, Darren
Major: 
Computer Science
Mentor: Tracy Larson

Contact: dahou@uw.edu

 

Current research project
Daily Oscillations in the Rate, Spectral Features and Variability of Gambel’s White-crowned Sparrow Song

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I am investigating the daily oscillations in the song of the White-crowned Sparrow. I am looking at song production rate, spectral features, and stereotypy in songs produced by birds maintained in both breeding and nonbreeding conditions. With this, I hope to demonstrate both descriptions of the “dawn chorus” and growing evidence on the modulation of the song control circuit. Eventually I aim to use this data to study the relationship between song production, cellular changes, and the endogenous circadian clock.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
The UW is a huge research institution. If things between you and your PI/mentor are not working out in your lab, feel free to tell him so you can either plan out a solution or go to another lab. As long as you explain the situation, PIs and mentors should generally be understanding. And with the large number of labs in each field, finding a new position should not be all that difficult.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I joined a computational biology lab in the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, on a reference from a former intern one year above me. I had nothing else to do that summer, so I dived straight in. Near the end of that year, I wanted to experience a wet lab, so I switched to the Brenowitz neuroscience lab, where I have been working since.

Do you have an interesting story to share about your research experience?
I first started at a computational biology lab along with a classmate. Our mentor was a graduate student, and when we first started communicating with him, we noticed that he would always have “:>” smiley faces scattered throughout his emails. We found that a bit odd, as we had never seen the “>” mouth anywhere else. But when we started emailing the PI regularly about status updates, we saw that he used “:>” all the time too! And as it turned out, everyone in the lab typed that face. So after a while, we started using it too, if only to fit in… :>


Shang Han (Beverly) Hung

Hung, Beverly
Major: Plant Biology
Mentor: Sharon Doty

Contact: shh17@uw.edu
 
 

Current research project
Using Endophytes to Increase Drought Tolerance of Poplar Clone OP-367

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
My research question is to test if inoculating poplar clone OP-367 with endophytes (a microorganism) can help the plant survive drought conditions. The experiment was set up by controlling the watering schedule to simulate drought conditions and comparing the results of the uninoculated control group to those of the inoculated group.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Go to office hours, Seminars, Professors’ web pages…etc.
Do research before you go in for an interview with the professor and show genuine interest in the topic. When you are really excited about something, I think other people will see it in you too! Therefore, pursue it!

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in research at the beginning of my junior year, I have been researching online and emailing professors of my interest during the summer. I really wanted to do research because I believed it could increase my confidence and allow me to learn a ton more than I could have learned from classes.

What is the most challenging and/or sometimes frustrating aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
I bumped into a lot of trouble while I was applying for research when I was freshman and sophomore due to lack of experience and the poor skills in writing professional emails. I was helped by the Undergraduate Research Advising office and successfully obtained a lab position the following Fall quarter.


Anh Huynh

Anh Huynh URL pic
Majors:
Psychology and Journalism
Mentor: Dr. Anthony Greenwald

Contact: avh2@uw.edu
 
 

Current research project
The Brief Implicit Association Test: not just association strengths

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
The Implicit Association Test (IAT) has been used in psychological experiments to measure the strength of a person’s automatic associations between concepts. My current research uses a variation of the test called the Brief IAT (BIAT) with simplified instructions and different task structures to examine whether concepts are associated with positive or negative attitude. This research has the potential to support the development of more valid and useful IAT methods for establishing people’s unconscious attitudes toward individual objects and concepts.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Be yourself and make sure that psychology is what you’re truly interested in. Keep in mind that research takes lots of time, effort, and passion, so be willing to devote all that — and more. Also, take the initiative to explore different research opportunities and mentors to find your best fit. Last but not least, don’t be afraid to ask questions or challenge concepts before and during your research. Without curiosity, there would be no research.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The ability to discover something surprising or unexpected about human cognition and behavior and find ways to improve the human condition based on psychological studies. Having my expectations challenged is a really eye-opening experience for me.


Ranee James

James, Ranee 70x90
Major:
Chemistry
Mentor: Sarah Keller

Contact: raneej@uw.edu
 
 

Current research projects
Minor changes in sterol structure impact the miscibility temperatures of model cell membranes significantly

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I use simplified versions of cell membranes that contain two lipids, and a sterol, to study the connection between the structure of the lipid or sterol and its function. Discrete domains in these membranes are essential for various cellular functions, and our lab studies how and why these domains form. My results are useful to biologists, chemists, and physicists who want to predict how certain lipids and sterols affect membrane functionality.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
I enjoy presenting my work. Though it can be nerve wracking, it is rewarding for me to look back and see all of the improvements I have made, and all of the new things that I have learned!


Samantha Kang

Kang, Samantha 70x90
Major: 
Mechanical Engineering
Minor: Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering (NME)
Mentor: Dr. Michael Khbeis

Contact: kangsam7@uw.edu

 

Current research project
Microfabrication of an ultra-sensitive magnetic sensor for biomedical applications

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I am working on fabricating an MEMS (microelectromechanical system) ultra-sensitive magnetic sensor. An MEMS device is what we find in practically everything we have from cell phones, to TVs, to spaceships. What I am working on is a sensor that hopefully will detect nanoTesla changes in a magnetic field. There are few devices out there that are this sensitive and, if successful, we could find many applications in the biomedical field for real-time sensing of brain activity, for example.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Be proactive and reach out to your advisers, TAs, and professors who might be able to help you find a research group in your field of interest.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
During my freshman year I decided to try something different and challenging. I met up with my adviser expressing interest in bioengineering and mechanical engineering and found the cell biomechanics lab that fit my interests.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
I think the most rewarding aspect of my undergraduate research experience so far was being selected to participate in the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) REU this summer. I went to the University of Michigan to fabricate and test electromagnetic microactuators for endomicroscopy. It was amazing to dive into the world of MEMS and to actually make a device that could potentially be used in endomicroscopes. The project I was working on was highly applicable and challenging. I actually used things I learned in class such as bending beams (CEE 220), materials science (MSE 170), chemistry, physics, and even Solidworks to model a microactuator. Of course, this project did not come without its problems, but I found that just sticking with it and seeking all the resources you can will help solve the problem. Teamwork is essential in the research environment.


Michelle La

La, Michelle 70x90
Majors: 
Neurobiology, Biochemistry
Minor: Art History
Mentor: Robert Hevner, M.D./Ph.D.

Contact: mla96@uw.edu

 

Current research project
Expression of transcription factor Tbr2 in embryonic mouse midbrain

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
A population of neurons in the embryonic mouse midbrain expresses Tbr2, a protein integral to neurodevelopment. Using immunohistochemistry, I have found two distinct Tbr2+ midbrain nuclei, and am studying whether these neurons are mitotic. I am now using Ai14/EoCreERT2 lineage tracer mice to study the eventual fate of these neurons.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Research is a commitment, but it should feel more like a passion than a chore. It gives you the chance to drive your own progress. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to the real world, where no one will help you unless you help yourself first. That might sound scary, but it gives you an incredible amount of freedom.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
At the end of my freshman year, I got involved in undergraduate research because I thought it was a great way to use the knowledge I learned in the classroom. In both my previous lab and my current lab, I became involved by finding and contacting the PI I was interested in, and showing that I was enthusiastic about learning. Today, research is a bigger part of my life than I expected, and I hope to continue doing research in a graduate program later in my career.

What is the most challenging and/or sometimes frustrating aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
Oddly enough, the most frustrating and interesting part of my current research is that the mother mice often eat their own pups with experimental alleles that I need for my project. It is very frustrating for me due to the relatively long gestation period of the mice and the injection treatments I must perform, only for the trial to be a failure due to cannibalization. As this has only been happening recently, I speculate this may have to do with my increased dose (10x) of an estrogen analog, but I don’t understand how if that is so.


Malte Lange

Malte Lange Headshot
Major: 
Biochemistry
Minor: Mathematics
Mentors: Xiaosong Li, David Lingerfelt

Contact: langemf@uw.edu
 
 

Current research project
First Principles Molecular Dynamics of Lithium Ion Intercalation into a ZnO Quantum Dot

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
We understand very little of the atomic world, since we are unable to view it directly or manipulate it readily. Therefore our group’s research focuses on computational models which simulate reactions on a scale that we can readily appreciate.
My research specifically focuses on the dynamics associated with a lithium ion moving through a small lattice of zinc and oxygen atoms. Our hope is that we can develop a system which is capable of efficient energy storage, possibly increasing the efficiency of lithium ion batteries.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Be genuinely interested and excited about trying out research. PIs get loads of trite research requests, but they can generally spot a truly excited student and are more willing to give you a chance. And furthermore, why go through the trouble of failing so many times if you aren’t motivated in the first place?

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I began undergraduate research the summer before my freshman year in a pharmaceutical/veterinary laboratory at WSU. After taking biology and chemistry, I realized that I was interested in applying what I had learned and exploring potential career paths, so I asked my high school chemistry teacher if she knew anyone that would be willing to take me. She pointed out a number of PIs and I eventually talked to one and he was willing to let me have a go at research!

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most rewarding aspect of my research was being able to put in a large amount of effort into answering a single question, and following huge amounts of frustration finally getting results.
Unlike normal classes in which practice problems have no meaning and take a few minutes to solve, with no real satisfaction won; research problems are highly complex, have big implications, and are time/effort consuming, but therefore hugely satisfying to answer.


Terence Leach

Terence Leach URL pic


Majors:
Ecology, Evolution, & Conservation Biology, Oceanography
Minor: Marine Biology
Mentors: Dr. Gabrielle Rocap, Oceanography; Michael Carlson

Contact: tleach32@uw.edu
 
 

Current research project
Uncovering the Evolutionary Relationships of Pseudo-nitzschia

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In my lab, we work with a group of microscopic marine phytoplankton called diatoms. Diatoms account for 1/5 of global photosynthesis and they make up the base of many marine food chains. Specifically, my project focuses on a genus of diatoms called Pseudo-nitzschia. Pseudo-nitzschia are known for their formation of harmful algal blooms in which they produce a sometimes deadly neurotoxin called domoic acid (DA). In my project, I am attempting to find a trend or connection between DA producers on an evolutionary level by sequencing DNA sections of various species of Pseudo-nitzschia and putting them on a phylogenetic tree to find their relations to one another.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
For those considering undergraduate research, I would strongly recommend getting involved. Go to the Undergraduate Research Symposium to see what others are doing. You don’t have to do research in your major, if you find something that you think is interesting and would enjoy, you should get involved in the vast amount of great opportunities at the University of Washington.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I knew from a young age that I wanted to do research in a science field, so during my senior year of high school I applied to a program called GenOM ALVA. This program sought to take incoming minority students and introduce them to the vast amount of research opportunities at the University of Washington. Through this program, I was matched up with an Oceanography lab that I work in currently.

What is the most challenging and/or sometimes frustrating aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
Getting into research can be both challenging and rewarding. Being a student comes first, so on top of studying and any other activities that you are already juggling with hitting the books, you will have to add research to your workload. Although this will be a challenge, especially at the beginning, over time you will find how to balance your work. Time management is a great skill to have for the future, so honing it now will benefit you immensely. Do not let the amount of work scare you off; because you will be doing research at a university, most labs will know you are also a full time student. In my experience, I have found that most labs are flexible to class schedules. School and research can also work hand-in-hand because applying the concepts you learn in class to real life will help you a lot in both your research and in class.


Philip Lindstedt

Lindstedt, Philip
Major: 
Biochemistry
Mentor: Dustin Maly

Contact: prl4@uw.edu
 
 
 

Current research project
Development of Small Molecule Controlled Split Protein Switches for Enzymatic Inhibition

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Elucidating intracellular signaling pathways is a preeminent goal of modern day cellular biology. Insights into these networks can advance our understanding of human disease and cellular differentiation. We are looking to create rapidly expandable small molecule controlled split protein inhibitors to modulate the activity of key enzymes in these pathways with high temporal resolution in order to probe their roles in these complex processes.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Keep up to date on the literature in your area of interest. Knowing what’s at the forefront of your field will give you a leg up compared to most undergraduates.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most rewarding aspect of my research has been the people I’ve met. Being in research has opened opportunities for me to attend seminars, conventions, and to work in different departments. It’s allowed me to meet some amazing and brilliant people that also share a passion for science, and even if they’re in a different discipline there’s still a great comradery that exists.


Jennifer Look

Look, Jennifer

 

Majors:  Biology (General), Comparative History of Ideas
Mentor:  Phillip Thurtle

Contact: jennlook@uw.edu
 
 
 

Current research project
Understanding the Correlation Between Race, Socioeconomics, and Stress-Related Illness in Minority Populations

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The onset of disease can be brought about as a result of both environmental and genetic factors. My research focuses on the effect of race and socioeconomic circumstances that may contribute to the differential rates of stress-induced disease (ulcers) and genetic predisposition to disease (cancer) in minority groups.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Be open-minded and remain persistent. There are many new dimensions and narratives that can be discovered during the research process, so don’t be afraid to ask questions, explore new territory, and take calculated risks.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I decided to participate in undergraduate research because I was curious and wanted to develop a new perspective of the world. I first became involved during Summer 2013, as a participant with the Summer Institute of Arts and Humanities. My first research project examined social constructs in the face of disease, with respect to tuberculosis in India.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most exciting aspect of my undergraduate research experience is the fact that I can analyze the world from a critical viewpoint, allowing me to gain insight that I never would have considered without research.


Natacha Lou Comandante

Lou Comandante, Natacha


Major: 
Bioengineering
Mentors: Kim Woodrow, Jaehyung Park

Contact: natacom@uw.edu

 
 

Current research project
Development of Multifunctional Nanoparticle Complex for Programming Dendritic Cell-based Vaccines against Sexually Transmitted Infections

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The essence of vaccine is to keep a “record” of the invader to our body (ideally without causing any side effects) so that our body would be prepared for the same invader next time. Dendritic cells play a significant role in this process by presenting antigen to T cells which then induce immune response to fight against the pathogens. Although conventional vaccines, which use either deactivated pathogens or specific antigen peptides to induce immune response, seem to be effective to target certain diseases such as influenza and hepatitis B, they have disadvantages including difficulty in development and production as well as large loss in the body upon injection. In this research project, we focus on developing a multifunctional vehicle that can deliver antigen DNA to dendritic cells and induce dendritic cell maturation at the same time. The advantage of using antigen DNA instead of antigen itself would be the ease of manufacturing and that it can easily be translated to vaccine development for different diseases. This work can potentially introduce a novel dendritic cell-based vaccine targeting especially sexually transmitted infections because the function of dendritic cells at the intra-vaginal tract are generally inhibited and by applying these engineered dendritic cells as a vaccine, the local immunity would increase.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
There are a lot of interesting research going on in bioengineering and sometimes research in this field is not necessary within the bioengineering department because bioengineering is a very interdisciplinary field. Try to find a lab that you are really interested in. If you need help in finding more open research opportunities related to bioengineering, I would suggest going to the drop-in hours or schedule an appointment with the advisors at the Undergraduate Research Program. They even can help you with the whole process such as talking to faculties and resume editing.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I started undergraduate research during the winter quarter of my freshman year and it has been a wonderful experience! The initial reason I got involved in undergraduate research was that I was interested in learning more about current cancer treatment and wanted to develop skills outside of the classroom. I did not know where to start, so I scheduled an appointment with an advisor at the Undergraduate Research Program. The advisor was friendly and helpful. He showed me the resources that I could use to find undergraduate research opportunities and how to request a research position.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
My research experience has significantly enriched my education at UW, while the most rewarding aspect of it would be the process of designing experiments to answer specific research questions in which I often exchange ideas with my mentors. This is challenging but also an important process in research and I’ve learned a lot during this process from my mentors’ feedback to my questions or ideas.


Azeb Madebo

Azeb Madebo URL pic
Major:
Communication
Mentor: Ralina Joseph

Contact: amadebo@uw.edu
 
 

Current research project
I’m currently researching how Habesha (Ethiopian/Eritrean) immigrants and their families negotiate racialized identities in America though the use of community spaces.

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The community spaces I will be exploring champion educational programing and social events, which feel familiar to newly immigrated patrons as well as those born in America but still identifying as Habesha – or with their respective home countries. Besides benefiting those with direct ties to Habesha communities, my findings will help Americans better understand and appreciate the fluidity and complexity of racial identities and categories. The findings from this research project will be indispensible for future research looking at how community spaces like the Ethiopian Community Center and Habesha “model minority” identities maintain, challenge, and potentially exacerbate racial discourses within the African American populations in America.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I became interested in pursuing undergraduate research after my sophomore year in Prof. Ralina Joseph’s internship class, which partnered with the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) in Seattle. I found the process of research, writing, and rediscovery to be tremendously rewarding – especially because I didn’t initially think it was possible for an undergraduate studying social sciences to become involved in research-based knowledge production.


Karl Marrett

Marrett, Karl 70x90
Major: 
Neurobiology
Minor: Applied Mathematics
Mentor: Dr. Adrian KC Lee

Contact: kdmarret@uw.edu

 

Current research project
A user centered approach for an auditory P300 brain computer interface evaluated for cognitive load

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Some patients with total loss of motor function rely on brain signals in order to communicate with the outside world. Of these brain signals, the P300 response is particularly useful in controlling speller devices for making selections or typing on a computer. These devices typically present selections visually, but presenting stimuli through hearing is more suited for patients with visual impairments and has more commercial value for nonclinical applications. My project addresses usability and performance issues of such auditory P300 spellers.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Try to balance getting exposure to many different fields while also making at least one meaningful impact by committing to a project while you are an undergraduate.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
My first quarter at UW, through a seminar, I came in contact with a global health researcher Dr. Danuta Kasprzyk. After her talk I inquired about research opportunities, and I began research with her the summer after my Freshmen year at Battelle. As an intern I deeply enjoyed the research process and afterwards exploring different scientific fields quickly became one of my deepest passions in college.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
Through the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering I was able to spend the summer working with the lead researcher in the field of auditory brain computer interface in Freiburg, Germany. This was an incredible experience because my project in my home lab was based on his work and I got to spend several months working closely with his lab.


Jesus Martinez-Gomez

Jesus Martinez-Gomez URL pic

 

Major: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Mentors: Veronica Di Stilio, Kelsey Galimba

Contact: jesusgm@uw.edu

 
 

Current research project
Characterization of a Floral B-class Gene Homeotic Mutant in a Ranunclid

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I work on the genes which produce the organs of a flower. These genes are known to work together in different combinations; each combination produces a different organ of a flower. Since these genes are very important for the development of the different organs, they are highly conserved throughout flowering plants. For example, most of the genes involved in petal formation in tulips are the same ones involved in petal formation in tomatoes. Even though tulips and tomato are very distantly related, these genes work in a very similar fashion in both species. That being said, they don’t function in exactly the same way, so it is interesting to study in what ways they interact differently and how this leads to all the different flower diversity that exists.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
There is so much opportunity at the University of Washington to participate in the fantastic Spencerian that is Undergraduate Research. Even if you are not considering a career in research, it will teach you how to work independently, think critically, present complicated work to a general audience and a ton of other universal skills! For those of you who are considering a career in research or medicine, it is fantastic opportunity to start now and establish a foundation by learning basic methodology and about current topics in research. Also you can get paid!

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in research through the ALVA GenOM project here at the University of Washington. They placed me into my lab the summer before my freshman year and I have been working here ever since!

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
By far the most exciting aspect is knowing that I am at the frontier of scientific knowledge. Unlike science class labs where there are known results, no one knows what exactly my results will be! Provided I do have hypotheses and predictions of what I expect, it is still exciting knowing that I am delving into the unknown! I find the most challenging aspect is all the failed experiments! There is a ton of troubleshooting and a lot of time is spent trying to figure out how to make things work. It can be discouraging if things haven’t worked in a while but at the same time it can lead to the most rewarding feeling when you finally figure out what is going wrong and get things to work!


Breana Murphy

Murphy, Breana 70x90
Major: 
Biology (Physiology)
Minors: French, Bioethics & Humanities
Mentor: Dr. Jack Berryman

Contact: breanamm@uw.edu

 

Current research project
The Bodemer Collection of Antique Medical Instruments

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I research the provenance and function of antique medical instruments left in the possession of the Department of Bioethics & Humanities (previously Dept. of Medical History) by a late chair of the department. Many of the instruments belonged to prominent Seattle physicians of the early 20th century. Part of my research is about putting a story behind the physicians who used these items and the contributions they made to Seattle society.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I became involved in January of my sophomore year in 2014. I knew that I wanted to have a sense of ownership in my university community and make connections with professors.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The relationships I have made with professors in connection with my research will stay with me long after I graduate. Undergraduate research was a fantastic way to engage and network with my university community.


Billie Ocampo

Ocampo, Billie 70x90

 
Major: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Mentor: Haeri Choi, Matt Kaeberlein

Contact: bryman@uw.edu

 
 

Current research project
DDS, 4, 4’-diaminodiphenylsulfone, Extends Lifespan in Caenorhabitis elegans

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Aging is associated with progressive deterioration of cellular components eventually resulting in mortality. There is still much to learn about the aging process and many of the molecular mechanisms and pathways of aging are yet to be understood. This research involves identifying and testing possible interventions that increase lifespan and could delay the onset of aging-related diseases. The nematode,Caenorhabiditis elegans, is used extensively in studying the biology of aging because it is relatively easy to handle and many determinants of aging in C. elegans are conserved in mammals. The drug DDS (4, 4’-diaminodiphenylsulfone), which has been used to treat leprosy, shows promising results in extending lifespan of nematodes and we are currently performing experiments to determine the specific pathways and genes involved in lifespan extension through DDS.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there and getting involved in different opportunities like research. Before you get involved, find out what you’re interested in, but also be open to new things; maybe you’ll find something new that you’ll end up loving!

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research at the beginning of my sophomore year because I wanted to get hands-on experience applying concepts that I learned in classes and to explore different career pathways in science.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most exciting aspect of undergraduate research is being able to work alongside professionals who have dedicated years to their field and being able to learn from and along with them.


Sharon Pan

Pan, Sharon 70x90


Majors: 
Public Health, Biochemistry
Mentor: Dr. Teresa Brentnall

Contact: shrnpn@uw.edu

 
 

Current research project
Harnessing Cancer Invasion

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Through data processing to correlate patient information and clinical outcomes with laboratory data, I studied the role of an oncoprotein related to pancreatic cancer progression and metastasis. The results could potentially be useful in early detection and prognosis in understanding how to contain and control the spread of the cancer.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Don’t be afraid to look into something that may not typically fall within your realm of study. Search for opportunities based on your interest and passion, not necessarily what your major implies. Be open-minded in the process of finding research, and be patient in finding opportunities. Once you find an opportunity, allow yourself to fully immerse in the experience to optimally learn and grow, and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions!

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
Freshmen year I paid attention to opportunities that were emailed out by faculty and seized an incredible opportunity with the Mary Gates Endowment in the Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities.

What is the most challenging and/or sometimes frustrating aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The reality of research is that while the end result is incredibly rewarding, it isn’t always smooth sailing. Sometimes, data and results don’t come out as desired or information isn’t compiled as hoped. More often than not, research is about piecing together little steps of progress into one giant step forward. Sometimes these pieces don’t fit, but that’s what makes it so interesting: it is up to you to figure out how to make a story with your data!


Anthony Recidoro

Anthony Recidoro URL pic
Major:
Biochemistry
Minors: Chemistry, Naval Science
Mentor: Ronald Y. Kwon

Contact: arec32@uw.edu
 

Current research project
Neuronal Regulation of Regenerative Bone Growth in the Zebrafish Fin

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It has long been known that following amputation, certain vertebrates such as urodele amphibians and teleost fish possess a remarkable capacity to regenerate lost appendages. Danio rerio, or zebrafish, are one such organism and have recently emerged as a powerful model for understanding the mechanisms mediating regenerative processes. Following fin amputation, zebrafish restore lost bones, nerves, blood vessels, and skin. In salamanders, limb regeneration has long been known to be nerve-dependent, though this process is believed to be independent of nerve conductance via the central nervous system. In contrast, in mammals, a growing body of evidence suggests that efferent nerve signals from the central nervous system regulates bone cell activity. My research project focuses on the role of nerves and neurotransmission in regulating regeneration and bone cell activity in the zebrafish tail fin.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Understand that you bring something new to the table. While you may have no experience in the research you get involved with, do not be afraid to ask questions and to give suggestions. Your perspective could be the last little spark needed to help your lab in making a novel discovery.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
My research career began after a tedious search for a mentor, a few dozen e-mails to PIs, and many fewer interviews. I began research January 2013 in the Musculoskeletal Systems Biology Laboratory. I decided to get involved in research because I wanted to be more than just an anonymous student in a large lecture hall. I wanted to take advantage of going to a top research university and to make contributions to science while I was an undergrad.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most exciting and rewarding aspect of my experience was the ability to present my research at an international research conference. After all the long hours spent running experiments and analyzing data, validation came from presenting at my plenary poster session. Faculty and physicians from universities such as Harvard, Tokyo Institute of Technology, and Hebrew University of Jerusalem expressed excitement for my research and its implications. The experience helped show me all my work really adds up to something great.


Jennifer Smith

Smith, Jennifer 70x90
Majors: History, American Indian Studies
Mentor: Maria-Elena Garcia

Contact: jms89@uw.edu
 
 

Current research project
Where the Wild Horses Roam: The Cross-Cultural Debate Over the Fate of Wild Horses on Yakama Tribal Lands

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My research is centered on the ongoing debate between representatives of the Yakama nation and specific non-Native animal advocacy groups in regard to the growing population of wild horses on Yakama tribal lands. As heavily polarized debates over the methods proposed to manage herd size have erupted in the public eye, I examine how the horse has become a terrain of struggle as non-Native groups use the horse symbolically as a representation of American nationalism. Further, this debate, born from feelings of imperialist nostalgia, engenders the use of repressive authenticity, and becomes grounded in the larger frontier narrative; which, in turn, allows non-Natives to imagine themselves the protagonists of the battle of the “Civilized” vs. the “Savage” Indian. Because the debate has morphed into something larger than the welfare of wild horses on Yakama lands, my research proposes that we take seriously the agency of the horse and how we relate to our non-human others.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Find something you’re passionate about, and then find a mentor who shares that passion. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. The Undergraduate Research Program is there to support you and help you succeed.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I became involved in undergraduate research as a participant in the 2014 Summer Institute of Arts and Humanities. I had seen the call for applications in several emails and around campus and the theme of Native modernities is something I am really passionate about. I applied, and much to my surprise was selected! It was an amazing experience, especially for an older student like myself who was also new to the University of Washington, as it really made me feel like I belonged.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
Although I am a mother and full-time student, I have found my involvement in undergraduate research has ignited such a passion in me to further my work that I have become a pro at time management. When I first began, I lacked confidence in my own abilities and was concerned that with all my other obligations, I would not be able to manage my project. But with the aid of my faculty mentor, the Undergraduate Research Program, and the support of my family, I have learned that I am fully capable of more than I ever imagined. Undergraduate research has truly been one of the best things I have been involved in during my time at UW, and I would encourage everyone to check it out and get involved!


Mathew Summers

Summers, Mathew 70x90
Majors: 
Neurobiology, Biochemistry
Minor: Applied Mathematics
Mentor: Fred Rieke

Contact: edict@uw.edu
 
 

Current research project
Interactions between Rod and Cone mediated signals

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I study early visual processing in the retina. Different types of photoreceptors within the mammalian retina are variously tuned to certain intensities and wavelengths of light. Somehow, the information from these various sources integrates to form the basis of visual perception. Using a combination of electrophysiological, computational, and psychophysical techniques, we seek to understand how these parallel processing pathways come together in the retina. In particular, we try to draw connections between microscopic, cellular interactions, and the “macroscopic” phenomenon of visual perception.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
I would advise “researching your research” by identifying local researchers in your area of interest, and then reading (or attempting to read) published scientific articles from that lab or professor. If you decide to contact a professor, mention these articles. Be honest and upfront about which parts you found interesting, and which you didn’t quite understand.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
It’s been incredibly rewarding applying knowledge from the classroom to my work in lab. There’s something extraordinarily validating about realizing that a seemingly obscure statistical technique from that 8:30am class you took sophomore year is the perfect way to tackle your current project in lab.


Talia Suner

Talia Suner URL pic
Majors:
Biochemistry, Neurobiology
Minors: Mathematics, Chemistry
Mentor: Charles Chavkin

Contact: sunert@uw.edu
 

Current research project
Investigation of the k-Opioid Receptor Cascade

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After treating cells with various agonists or antagonists of the k-opioid receptor, we isolate the cytoplasm of the cells and use Western blots to detect and quantify the presence of various proteins. In this way, we can characterize the protein cascade activated by the k-opioid receptor by isolating the cytoplasm at different time points and by using different agonists/antagonists.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Get involved early. This will give you the chance to change your mind if you realize that the research you are doing isn’t tailored to your interests. If it turns out that you love the first lab you join, then you have the opportunity to work there for as long as possible.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I first got involved working in undergraduate research the summer before my freshman year through NASA Space Grant’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). I later left the lab I was placed in through that program and joined the one that I am currently in.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most rewarding aspect of my undergraduate research experience is the opportunity to apply what I learn in class to investigate questions that have never been answered.


Wenbi Wu

Wenbi Wu URL pic
Majors: Biochemistry, Chemistry
Minor: Mathematics
Mentors: David Ginger, Adam Colbert

Contact: wenbiw@uw.edu
 

Current research project
The Impact of Quantum Dot Surface Ligands on the Operation of Hybrid Polymer/Quantum Dot Solar Cells

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Solar technology is a potential source to help meet the growing demand for clean, renewable energy. We are currently trying to improve the efficiency of hybrid polymer/quantum dot solar cells by studying how the different ligands on the quantum dots influence the system.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research in your field?
Science research could sometimes be very frustrating and unexpected things happen all the time; however, keep trying and do not give up. When you get to the end, outcomes can be very exciting and every failure will be worthy.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got to know Professor Ginger in my general chemistry series. I found his research interesting so I simply emailed him. The reason why I got involved is that I want to do “actual science” by applying what we learn in class to something useful.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most exciting part is to give a presentation to introduce my work to others. At that moment, I feel so professional. All the hard work just gets paid off. The biggest challenge is time management. Research is very time-consuming, and it is hard to balance research, schoolwork and other commitments.