Undergraduate Research Program

Nathan Novy

Nathan SmilingMajor: Biochemistry
Mentor: Shane Rea (Pathology); David Baker (Biochemistry), Nathan Ennist (Postdoc)

Contact: novyn@uw.edu

Current research project: Development of a Photo-regulatable Longevity Kinase; Rosetta Based Design of Chlorophyll-binding Proteins for Artificial Photosynthesis


Nate is a rising senior in Biochemistry at the University of Washington. Nate has worked at the Rea lab for the past two years, attempting to elucidate the mechanism of a C. elegans mitochondrial retrograde response pathway by engineering the pathway to include light-sensitive variants of the involved proteins. He also recently started working at the Baker lab with postdoctoral researcher Nathan Ennist. In the Baker lab, he uses Rosetta protein design software to develop chlorophyll-binding proteins with various artificial photosynthesis applications.

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I am attempting to re-engineer a natural C. elegans pathway associated with lifespan regulation to gain a comprehensive understanding of the pathway and its significance in aging. I am also working on a separate project where I design and improve chlorophyll-binding proteins for artificial photosynthesis.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I started volunteering at the Shane Rea research group during my first quarter at UW after a friend from a chemistry class who worked in the Rea lab suggested that I apply. I initially hoped that this would complement my coursework but soon found that my coursework supplemented the knowledge and skills I obtained through research. I later decided to join the Baker lab and work with Nathan Ennist after I had narrowed my research interests and became intrigued by protein design.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Look at what the professors in your department are researching and reach out to professors whose research interests you even a little. Your research interests will likely change over time, but you will gain far more skills than you anticipate by working in any research environment, so try to get involved as soon as you can. Don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or another Undergraduate Research Leader if you have any questions!