Undergraduate Research Program

Kim Ha

Major: Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology
Dr. Michael Bamshad, Department of Pediatrics and Dr. Alejandro Rico-Guevara, Department of Biology

Contact: kimtha@uw.edu

Current research project: Spectrum of Variants in TPM2, TNNT3, and TNNI2 that Cause Distal Arthrogryposis


Kim is a junior majoring in Molecular Biology at the University of Washington. She is interested in exploring the intersection between metabolism and genetics to understand their impact on diseases like obesity and cancer. Since June of 2018 she has been working in the Bamshad lab to identify and expand the spectrum of causal variants in a genetic disorder known as distal arthrogryposis. Recently, she has started working on a project with the Guevara lab to understand the flight trajectories of hummingbirds through data analysis. In her free time she enjoys reading webcomics, chatting with her friends, and playing Among Us.

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Distal arthrogryposis (DA) is a genetic disorder characterized by the presence of congenital limb contractures. DA has many subtypes and has a lot of variability in phenotypes within those subtypes, making diagnosis challenging. To understand why this variability occurs and better define each DA type, it’s important to first identify what’s causing the DA. My role in this is to screen the DNA of individuals affected by DA and identify these variants. This is a simple but important step to improve our understanding of this disorder.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved with research the summer before my first year of college through a program known as Genom ALVA at the University of Washington. I find joy in discovering new information and patterns, and research seemed like the perfect route to do just that.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
If you have even the slightest interest, go for it! I believe a lot of people may feel hesitant about getting into research because they feel like they’re unprepared, but you don’t need to know everything before beginning a project. Mentors are very kind and patient people who are more than willing to help you.