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2017 Program Students

Nicolas Germanos

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Ajay Dhaka

Nicolas is a rising senior at the University of Washington, pursuing a major in neurobiology and minors in chemistry and applied mathematics. During the academic year, Nicolas works in the Department of Biological Structure.  This summer, Nicolas is working in the Dhaka lab, which studies the molecular basis of pain sensation. He is investigating genes linked to zebrafish nociception. Outside of lab Nicolas enjoys hiking as well as writing for Grey Matters, the UW’s student-run neuroscience journal. In the future, Nicolas plans to pursue a PhD in neuroscience and aims to conduct research in neural coding.

Dan Godfrey

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Ardith Doorenbos

Dan is a rising junior in the Honors Program at the University of Washington studying medical anthropology & global health, human rights, and international studies. For the past year, Dan has been working at Global to Local, a local community-health non-profit, as an intern through the Undergraduate Community-Based Internship. This summer, Dan is working with Dr. Ardith Doorenbos on a study intended to improve pain-management for individuals undergoing spinal surgery by facilitating timely and appropriate use of pain self-management, in order to mitigate persistent opioid use due to post-operative chronic pain. The research evaluates the feasibility of a TeleCoaching pain-management program for patients undergoing spinal surgery, and evaluates resulting changes to the dose and frequency of opiate consumption, as well as long-term outcomes in pain, psychosocial factors, physical function, and quality of life. In his free time, Dan enjoys playing sports, biking, traveling, trying new things, and doing anything with his friends or family.

Julia Joo

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Tonya Palemo

Julia is a senior studying biochemistry and molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at the University of Washington. In addition to working with Dr. Palermo , Julia works with Dr. Alan Herr in UW Medicine Pathology to identify antimutator mutations, which modulate mutation rates, and investigate how those mutations may influence mutator-driven cancers. Julia also enjoys singing in UW Chorale and tutoring chemistry at UW CLUE. In the future, she hopes to practice medicine in the field of neurology while contributing to translational research studying innovative therapeutics.

Melissa Krook

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Sean Rundell

Melissa is a senior at the University of Washington, majoring in psychology with an emphasis on gerontology, and minoring in english. Past projects include assisting in the development of healthy aging programs to transform the aging experience through purposeful living. This summer, she joins the research lab of Dr. Sean Rundell in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. In this lab, she works toward understanding and improving the quality of care for older adults with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Specifically, she is studying how having multiple chronic health conditions or multiple sites of pain, impacts older adults with back pain. In her free time, Melissa enjoys attending live music shows, exploring art museums, hiking and traveling with friends and family. Long-term, Melissa plans to pursue a PhD in gerontology with a focus on addiction. Ultimately, she aims to develop cognitive-behavioral therapies that provide balanced wellness support and improve our psychological wellness as we age.

Annamarie Lahti

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Pierre Mourad

Annamarie is a rising junior at the University of Washington where she majors in biology with an emphasis on physiology. During the school year she works at the Moritz Lab. She has spent the last year and a half working on a spinal cord stimulation project in rats. This summer, Annamarie is working in Dr. Pierre Mourad’s lab in the department of Neurological Surgery. There she is working on pain diagnosis through the use of a therapeutic ultrasound device in amputee patients. The hope is that this device will eventually lead to a more specific pain test than palpation or injection. Outside of lab, Annamarie enjoys running, hiking, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. In the future, she hopes to earn a M.D. or a PhD in neuroscience.

Meena Meyyappan

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Jennifer Rabbitts

Meena is a rising junior at the University of Washington planning to major in neurobiology or microbiology. For the past year Meena has worked for Seattle Children’s Research Institute under Dr. Frederick Shic in the Seattle Children’s Innovative Technologies Lab where she worked to improve autism and developmental disorder diagnosis through eye tracking and biomarker development. This summer, Meena is working under Dr. Jennifer Rabbitts at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute to study pediatric pain management. She hopes to continue to gain invaluable skills in research and to learn more about anesthesiology and the current climate of the field under the guidance of her mentors. In her free time, Meena likes to paint, adventure outdoors, and volunteer at Swedish hospital. She hopes to one day earn an M.D. and travel to Thailand whenever she gets a break.

Diego Molina Ochoa

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Michele Curatolo

Diego is a rising senior at the University of Washington studying biology (physiology) and global health. He spent the last academic year working for the Kaeberlein Lab’s yeast dissection team studying the biological foundations of aging in yeast to uncover novel treatments for various age related diseases and find ways to improve health during old age. He has also worked as an officer for the Husky Community Emergency Response Team, an RSO dedicated in offering effective first-aid and emergency response training to students, as well as working with the UW emergency management department to prepare the campus in the event of an emergency. This summer, Diego is working under Dr. Curatolo from UW Medical Center and Dr. Vavilala from the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center on several studies regarding chronic pain management and treatment, including a project focusing on lower back pain and a long-term study regarding chronic pain from traumatic injuries. In his free time, Diego enjoys writing, visiting new places and hiking spots, and playing various tabletop games. After graduation, Diego plans to pursue a medical degree.

Margaret Slack

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Tonya Palermo

Margaret is a rising senior at the University of Washington majoring in general biology and minoring in Jewish studies. During the school year she works as a research assistant in the McKnight Pharmacology Lab at the UW Medical Center (UWMC). Her research has mainly involved conducting behavioral tests that analyze the role of AKAP7 in spatial discrimination. This summer, she is working with Dr. Tonya Palermo at Seattle Children’s studying the effects of sleep patterns on chronic pain in children. Outside of the lab she enjoys volunteering at the UWMC, tutoring introductory biology students, and spending time with her family in Montana. In the future Margaret hopes to earn an MD in Family Medicine.

Rachel Straughn

Institution: University of Washington
Faculty Mentor: Kushang Patel

Rachel is a rising senior at the University of Washington, majoring in bioengineering with college honors. This summer, she is working with Dr. Kushang Patel in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine on a project focusing on the correlation between self-reported and accelerometer-measured physical activity in adults with fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. During the school year, Rachel researches with Dr. Ying Zheng in the Department of Bioengineering developing in vitro microvascular models for disease and novel drug studies. Rachel also volunteers in the pediatric outpatient center at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and with the UW Campus Food Pantry, an organization that combats food insecurity in the student body. In her free time, she enjoys attending concerts, exploring the city of Seattle, and spending time with family and friends. In the future, Rachel hopes to attend medical school and become a leader in patient-centered care.