Undergraduate Research Program

Levinson Scholars



Varun in lab

Varun Sridhar, 2020-21 Levinson Scholar











Sumaya Addish - Biochemistry

Sumaya Addish is a senior at the University of Washington majoring in Biochemistry. During the summer of her first year, Sumaya began research in the Ruohola-Baker lab where she explored blood vessel regeneration. She later joined the Kwon lab, where she studied the role of maternal wnt16 transcripts in bone and muscle embryogenesis. As a continuation of her previous work in the Kwon lab, Sumaya’s current project seeks to explore the relationship between the wnt16 and pax7 genes, specifically how the genes tandemly influence skeletal muscle regeneration after an injury. She hopes that the findings from this study can eventually shed light on potential regenerative therapeutics for musculoskeletal disorders. After graduating from UW, Sumaya plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical biology that incorporates computational modeling and the discovery of potential therapeutics. Outside of school and research, Sumaya is a bookworm who cannot refuse a good novel but also enjoys painting, hiking, and cooking. She is grateful to her mentors Dr. Tam’ra-Kay Francis, Dr. Ronald Kwon, and Joyce Tang as well as to her family and friends who have supported her throughout her academic career. Sumaya is also enormously thankful to Art and Rita Levinson for their generous contribution toward this project and their commitment to empowering the next generation of scientists.


Ronald Kwon, PhD, Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Project Title:

wnt16 Regulation of Satellite Cells

Eiden Brewer - Neuroscience

Eiden Brewer is a junior at the University of Washington studying Neuroscience. She joined the Young lab in her sophomore year and is studying how endolysosomal function affects the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Her projects focus on manipulating the expression of key genes that affect the endolysosomal matrix in human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). Eiden applies bacterial gene manipulation tools to modify hiPSCs and to elucidate how endosomal trafficking relates to amyloid beta plaque accumulation. In the future, she seeks to earn her Ph.D. in neuroscience and continue research on neurodegenerative diseases. She has been awarded a Mary Gates Scholarship to support her summer research and is a recipient of the prestigious Levinson Emerging Scholars Award at the UW. Outside of research, she is a core editor for the Grey Matters journal, the undergraduate neuroscience journal on campus, and she volunteers with the Brain Exercise Initiative. She is pursuing a minor in dance and enjoys tap dancing.


Dr. Jessica Young, Department of Pathology

Project Title:

Finding potential gene targets for Alzheimer’s treatment

Magdalene Brown - Microbiology

Magdalene is a senior majoring in microbiology at the University of Washington. She joined the Hyde Lab at the beginning of her junior year and is currently researching how RNA structure and genomic mutations confer pathogenicity in Sindbis Virus, a type of alphavirus. Currently, these viruses pose a threat to human health worldwide as emerging pathogens with no effective treatment or antiviral therapy due to a lack of understanding surrounding alphavirus pathogenesis and host-pathogen interactions. By using chimeras as a tool to explore the significance of different mutations between avirulent and virulent strains, she hopes to help uncover the most important contributions to the emergence of pathogenic alphaviruses. After graduation, Magdalene plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical science, continuing to focus on host-pathogen interactions as well as explore other related interests in the field that will lead to a career in the biotech industry. She is very passionate about the positive impact of undergraduate research and is currently an Undergraduate Research Leader. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, exploring new hobbies, and outdoor adventures. Magdalene is very grateful to everyone who has supported her including her mentor Dr. Hyde as well as the entire Hyde Lab for providing an environment to help her grow and learn as a student and researcher. Finally, she is very honored to have been awarded the Levinson Emerging Scholars Award and would like to extend sincere thanks to the Levinson family. Magdalene looks forward to furthering her research career as a Levinson Scholar.


Jennifer Hyde, Microbiology

Project Title:

Exploration of the Impact of RNA Structure and Genomic Mutations on Pathogenesis in Sindbis Virus

Phoenix Davis - Biochemistry

Phoenix Davis is a Junior at the University of Washington studying Physiology. They joined the Bruchas Lab at the beginning of their sophomore year and are researching anxiolytic and drug-seeking behaviors related to peri-coerulear Neuropeptide S pathway modulation of orbitofrontal cortex NPSR1 populations. This project aims to examine Neuropeptide S beyond a macroscopic level and elucidate how this neural pathway could be linked to neurological mechanisms influencing the comorbidity of anxiogenic and substance abuse disorders. Their research serves to understand the basic neural mechanisms underlying Neuropeptide S transmission in the OFC and its effects on drug-seeking behaviors. Phoenix plans on pursuing an MD degree with a career in neurological surgery. When they are not in class, the lab, or volunteering you can find them playing violin in the Campus Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as leading and participating in numerous organizations such as the neuroscience registered student organization and Grey Matters. They also delight in mentoring other students and explore their passion for teaching by peer mentoring incoming Interdisciplinary Honors Students and acting as a reader grader for BIOChem 405 students. At the end of an eventful day, they enjoy playing Mario Kart or snuggling up with their cat for a nap. They are extremely grateful for all the guidance they’ve received from their mentors Dr. Kasey Girven and Dr. Michael Bruchas as well as the kind financial help from the Mary Gates Research Scholarship. They are also extremely honored to receive the Levinson Emerging Scholars Award, which would not be possible without the generous support from the Levinson family.


Dr. Michael R. Bruchas, Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine; Dr. Kasey Girven, Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

Project Title:

A Peri-ceorulear Neuropeptidergic Pathway for Modulating OFC-mediated Natural Reward Seeking

Fang-Hua (Flora) Hu - Bioengineering

Fang-Hua is a junior at the University of Washington studying Bioengineering and Philosophy. She joined the Mathieu lab during the summer before her sophomore year and is working to optimize the differentiation of mammary-like organoids from human iPSCs using single-cell-RNA technologies. Developing an iPSC-based model for breast cancer allows us to explore questions on early carcinogenesis, and cell type specificity of cancer-promoting mutations, and enables the characterization of the progression of different tumor types. Fang-Hua is interested in using organoids to study the molecular mechanisms of the BRCA1 mutation and lineage-specific factors that promote tumorigenesis. She’s looking to implement engineering tools to increase the physiological relevance of derived models. Fang-Hua would like to thank Dr. Mathieu, the members of the Mathieu Lab, and the Ruohala-Baker Lab for the substantial support they have provided her. She would also like to thank the Levinson family for their generosity and commitment to supporting undergraduates who are passionate about research.


Julie Mathieu, Comparative Medicine

Project Title:

Directed Differentiation of Mammary Gland-Like Organoids from hiPSCs for Cancer Modeling

Joey Liang - Bioengineering

Joey Liang is a senior at the University of Washington majoring in Bioengineering (Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering) and minoring in Entrepreneurship. He joined the Pun Lab during his junior year, where his research centered around DNA aptamers binding to the SARS-CoV-2 WA1 and Omicron variant spike proteins for applications in rapid antigen testing and therapeutic viral neutralization. Currently, Joey is working on developing polymer drugs for chronic kidney disease. An incurable disease characterized by deteriorating kidney function, chronic kidney disease is often managed with lifelong dialysis or kidney transplants requiring lifelong immunosuppressant usage. Through his research, Joey hopes to create more effective therapeutics that can stop or reverse chronic kidney disease progression for future patients. After graduation, Joey plans to pursue an MD with a focus on increasing the accessibility of future medical solutions. Joey is extremely grateful for the guidance and support of his mentors Dr. Suzie Pun and Dr. Lucy Yang, and he would also like to thank the Levinson family for their generous support of his research.


Suzie Pun, Bioengineering

Project Title:

Polymeric Drug Delivery for Chronic Kidney Disease

Carrie Lin - Mechanical Engineering

Carrie is a junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Dance at the University of Washington. Since February 2022, she has had the joy of working in the Olanrewaju Lab to pursue the intersection between engineering and biological research to make medical technology, replacing the need for complicated techniques and expensive equipment. Her current research focuses on 3D printing microfluidic devices to rapidly measure HIV drug concentrations to improve health outcomes in individuals by helping them take their medications. Carrie works in the lab under the wonderful guidance of Dr. Olanrewaju and Kelsey Leong. As a high school student, Carrie also researched in the Prekeris Lab at the University of Colorado-Anschutz where she was mentored by Dr. Cayla Jewett to characterize the role of the Rab19 protein in primary cilia formation and ciliogenesis in trisomic cells from 2019-2021. Carrie plans to pursue graduate studies in biomechanics or microfluidics to continue exploring the world of research. She hopes to share her love for science by mentoring students and contributing to making scientific education available to all ages and communities outside of the traditional scientific circle! With this award, Carrie is beyond excited to dedicate her time to continuing to build her skillset in the lab and improving accessibility in both medical technology and scientific knowledge. She is incredibly grateful to the Levinson family for their generous support and the lovely people in her lab.


Ayokunle Olanrewaju, Mechanical Engineering, and Bioengineering

Project Title:

Autonomous Microfluidic Device for Rapid Measurement of Antiretroviral Drug Concentrations

Morgan McCartney - Biochemistry, Biology (Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental)

Morgan is a senior studying Biochemistry and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of Washington. She joined the Wills lab in her junior year, investigating the role of the biosynthetic enzyme inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase 2 (IMPDH2) in Xenopus tropicalis tissue regeneration in collaboration with the Kollman lab. IMPDH2 catalyzes the rate-limiting step of de novo guanosine synthesis and has been shown to polymerize into filaments under nucleotide stress in vitro. Morgan is currently focused on investigating the differential distribution of IMPDH2 filaments across tissue types in regenerating X. tropicalis tadpoles, as well as their aggregation into rod and ring-shaped superstructures. Through this project, Morgan hopes to further elucidate the purpose of IMPDH2 polymerization as well as contribute to the model of metabolic rewiring the Wills lab is developing. After completing her undergraduate degree, Morgan plans to attend graduate school in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Cell Biology. Morgan would like to thank Dr. Wills and the members of the Wills lab for their incredible support and mentorship. She would also like to thank the Levinson family for their generous support of her undergraduate research.


Andrea Wills, Biochemistry

Project Title:

Investigating the Role of Inosine Monophosphate Dehydrogenase 2 in Xenopus tropicalis Regeneration

Daniel Ong - Chemistry, Biochemistry

Daniel Ong is a senior at the University of Washington majoring in Chemistry and Biochemistry. Daniel’s research interests lie at the intersection of chemistry and biology. In the Zalatan lab at the Department of Chemistry, he is engineering metalloenzymes for non-native C-H functionalization activity by using directed evolution. These enzymes can diversify small chemical building blocks and ultimately help advance the reach of biosynthesis for the sustainable production of complex therapeutics and other high-value chemicals. Previously, he did research in the Wills lab at the Department of Biochemistry where he investigated the metabolic reprogramming that is required for complex tissue regeneration in Xenopus tropicalis. A better understanding of regenerative metabolism will help in the development of treatments for traumatic limb injury patients. Daniel is always working to be a better science communicator, teacher, and advocate for equitable and inclusive research environments. Outside the lab, he promotes undergraduate research as an Undergraduate Research Leader (URL) and supports first-year student transition as a First-Year Interest Group (FIG) Leader for Autumn 2022. As a member of the Promoting Chemistry Undergraduate Research Equity (ProCURE) working group, he collaborates with graduate and undergraduate researchers to reduce barriers and improve accessibility to undergraduate chemistry research at UW. Daniel hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Chemistry with a concentration in Chemical Biology. The opportunity to conduct undergraduate research has been an invaluable experience for him. He is tremendously thankful for the mentorship and guidance from Prof. Jesse Zalatan, Brianne King, Prof. Andrea Wills, and Dr. Jeet Patel. Daniel is also grateful to the Levinson family for their generosity in supporting his research and the research of his fellow Levinson Scholars.


Jesse Zalatan, Chemistry

Project Title

Directed Evolution of Non-Heme Iron(II)/2-Oxoglutarate Dependent Enzymes for Non-Native C-H Functionalization of Amines

Varuna Ravi - Public Health (Global Health)

Varuna is a Senior majoring in Public Health-Global Health at the University of Washington. She joined the Banks-Erickson lab in her sophomore year to work on projects about Alzheimer’s Disease(AD). Her work focuses on improving our understanding of how aging contributes to AD by studying one of the nine hallmarks of aging, cellular senescence. Cellular senescence is characterized by irreversible cell cycle arrest, and the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). Cellular senescence can be beneficial to perform functions such as tissue repair. However, in age-related diseases such as AD, senescent cells accumulate and the SASP produces a chronic inflammatory state, contributing to age-associated functional decline. One primary aspect of cellular senescence, the SASP, leads to inflammatory proteins that could be released into the bloodstream. The liver is a major source of circulating inflammatory factors, and liver senescence and dysfunction occur with aging and can contribute to the secretion of SASP-related inflammatory proteins into the blood. She hypothesizes that cellular senescence in the liver contributes to age-associated CNS dysfunction in SAMP8 mice by increasing inflammatory proteins in the blood. The liver-brain axis could play a role in the neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration associated with AD by secreting pro-inflammatory factors into the bloodstream during aging, which can then affect the brain through their interactions with the blood-brain barrier.

Outside of the lab, Varuna is the president of Capillaries, a narrative medicine journal on campus, and is also involved with the Anti-Racism for Community Health (ARCH) Center with a focus on uplifting Black and Indigenous scholars. As a Public Health major, she has gained experience in prevention policy scans and she hopes to continue her work in substance misuse. In the future, Varuna hopes to continue her work with analytics while implementing her work in public policy to pursue a career in Pharmacology. Varuna is incredibly grateful for the support she has received from her mentors, Rachel C. Knopp and Dr. Michelle Erickson, as well as her colleagues at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital. She is also thankful to the Levinson family for their generous award and for helping support talented researchers who exemplify the principles of dedication and independence. She would also like to thank the Mary Gates Endowment for Students who have helped support her research and allowed her to reach this stage of her project. This award will be critical in allowing Varuna to dedicate time to her project and will ensure her continued participation in the field of senescence.


Michelle Erickson, Medicine-Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine

Project Title:

Investigating the effects of liver senescence and senolytic therapies on age-associated inflammation in SAMP8 mice

Carter Rowell - Bioengineering

Carter is a senior studying Bioengineering, Applied Mathematics, and Neural Computation and Engineering at the University of Washington. He is also pursuing Interdisciplinary Honors and Departmental Honors within the Bioengineering department. He joined the Daggett Research Group in the Winter Quarter of his sophomore year and has worked there since. His research focuses on the characterization of amyloid peptide aggregation and the development of diagnostic assays for amyloid diseases. While his work has primarily focused on diagnostics for Alzheimer’s Disease, he hopes to extend this research to other amyloid systems such as Type 2 Diabetes. Carter is interested in the intersection of Bioengineering and Neuroscience and plans to continue conducting research in this area while obtaining a Ph.D. in Bioengineering. He is incredibly thankful for Dr. Valerie Daggett’s mentorship and support, as well as the Levinson family’s generous contribution to his undergraduate research.


Valerie Daggett, Bioengineering

Project Title:

Characterization of Amyloid Aggregation and Development of Amyloid Diagnostic Assays

Sarah Stucky - Biochemistry

Sarah is a senior Interdisciplinary Honors student majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Chemistry. She works on several different projects in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Harborview Medical Center ranging from covid vaccine effectiveness to comparing success rates of intubation methods. Her primary study, under the guidance of Dr. Alexander St. John, focuses on trauma-induced coagulopathy (TIC) and platelet failure in full trauma patients. These patients have the most severe injuries in the ER, which often results in mass hemorrhaging. Sarah utilizes biochemistry lab skills to run platelet aggregometry to measure clot strength. With the help of the Levinson grant, she will be extending the TIC project to examine the impacts of human actin and gelsolin on clot strength. A better understanding of the mechanisms of actin and gelsolin on hemostasis could direct further research into pharmaceuticals and therapies that could yield better outcomes for trauma patients. Sarah hopes to pursue a career with a balance of technical lab work and patient-facing interactions. She plans to apply to MD programs after graduation with goals to become a physician-scientist and eventually a professor. Outside of her research, Sarah is a UW tour guide and volunteers at the Washington crisis line. She enjoys collecting houseplants, spending time with family, and drinking lots of coffee. Sarah would like to thank the Levinson family for supporting her project and believing in student success. She is incredibly honored and excited to be a Levinson scholar. In addition, she would not be here without the help of her mentor, Dr. Alexander St John, and all of her friends and coworkers in the Department of Emergency Medicine.


Dr. Alexander St. John, Emergency Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine

Project Title:

Effects of Human Actin and Gelsolin on Blood Clot Strength and Platelet Activation

Jamie Yang - Bioengineering

Jamie is a junior studying Bioengineering (Data Science) at UW. She joined the Cardiac Systems Simulation Lab led by Dr. Patrick Boyle in May 2021. Jamie’s research involves investigating the efficacy of light-elicited currents (optogenetics) in suppressing arrhythmias resulting from engrafting induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomrevascularizeyocyte (iPSC-CM) patches to revascularize scar tissue in post-heart attack patients. After graduation, Jamie hopes to obtain a Ph.D. in bioengineering with a specialization in computational cardiology to further investigate arrhythmia mechanisms. She is extremely grateful for the support and guidance from her mentors, Pat and Alex, throughout her research journey so far. She is also deeply honored and thankful to receive the Levinson Emerging Scholars Award from the Levinson Family, which will greatly assist her in achieving her research goals.


Patrick Boyle, Department of Bioengineering

Project Title:

Optogenetic Suppression of Stem Cell-derived Cardiomyocyte Patch Engraftment Arrhythmias for Post-heart Attack Patients