Undergraduate Research Program

Alexandra Koriath

Alexandra Koriath Smilng in front of riverMajors: Bioengineering
Mentor: Jennifer Nemhauser, UW Department of Biology

Contact: akoriath@uw.edu

Current research project: The “Super AFB”: Creating an F-box With Super Auxin-Responsive Degradation






Alex is a junior at the University of Washington, pursuing a degree in Bioengineering. She joined the Nemhauser Lab in the Biology Department as a freshman in April 2018 and is currently working on a project to learn more about proteins in the signaling network of the plant hormone auxin. The final goal of the project is to create more efficient versions of these proteins to be utilized in the auxin-inducible degron system, a method that allows scientists in many different disciplines to learn more about specific protein functions. True to her Vashon Island roots, Alex enjoys hiking and exploring nature with friends and family, but she is also content to relax at home while watching Netflix with her two black cats.

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
In my lab, we are working to gain a better understanding of the roles of proteins in the auxin signaling network. This network leads to the regulation of various genes in plants and affects many visible phenotypes such as a plant’s ability to respond to light and gravity, as well as initiate new organs. Because these interactions are happening in all plants, learning more about the process leads to a better understanding of how these plants work and has impacts in the agricultural industry. In my project specifically, I hope to improve the efficiency of the auxin-inducible degron system. This system allows for scientists to regulate the degradation of specific proteins in non-plant eukaryotes and learn more about the functions of these proteins. Improving this system would make the research process more efficient in many different scientific fields.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research at the end of my freshman year through a process of cold-emailing various professors in labs that interested me. I wanted to get involved in research to learn more about what it is like to be scientist and make an impact with my work. I was also excited to learn lab and professional skills that would be relevant to my future education and career.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would encourage any student interested in research to give it a try. There are so many different research labs on campus involved in various fields that it would be almost impossible not to find one of interest. Once you get involved in research you will not only be practicing important skills, but you are also able to experience a learning environment in which grades are not involved.