Undergraduate Research Program

Zoe Chau

Major: Bioengineering
Mentor: James Lai, Department of Bioengineering

Contact: zoechau@uw.edu

Current research project: Profiling of Tissue-Specific Extracellular Vesicles Using Oligonucleotides


Zoe is a rising sophomore majoring in Bioengineering at the University of Washington. She is very interested in combining her interest in engineering and medicine to improve current healthcare practices. Since October of 2019, she has been working in the Lai Lab to develop exosome analysis techniques in application to diagnostics. During her free time, Zoe enjoys learning new languages, crafting, and practicing the piano.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Previously thought of as “molecular garbage bins”, exosomes are membrane-bound extracellular vesicles that have recently demonstrated rapid growth in research and hold significant clinical potential. In particular, exosomes have demonstrated broad potential in diagnostics due to their vast array of tissue-specific surface markers and molecular contents. I am currently working on developing a tool that exploits cascade reactions to characterize and isolate tissue-specific exosomes with the goal of expediting current exosome analysis techniques.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
After hearing the exciting experiences of upperclassmen and learning about the significant relationship between research and medicine, I knew I wanted to dive into research as soon as I could after starting at the UW. During the summer before freshman year I attended a URP information session and geared with this knowledge, began contacting the labs whose research I was interested in. After several attempts, I successfully joined the Lai Lab in the UW Department of Bioengineering.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone! While research may be intimidating, each attempt at approaching a lab of your interest will only get easier. UW hosts an incredible amount of diverse research opportunities, and I am certain that you will learn and develop new skills in the process of diving into research.