Undergraduate Research Program

Levinson Scholars

2020-21

 

Varun in lab

Varun Sridhar, 2020-21 Levinson Scholar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brendan K Ball - Chemical Engineering: Nanoscience & Molecular Engineering

Brendan in labBrendan Ball is a senior studying Chemical Engineering (Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering) and minoring in Chemistry. His research is in the Nance Lab, a disease-directed engineering group in the UW Department of Chemical Engineering, where he is investigating a reliable and accurate method to characterize perineuronal nets inside the brain utilized by Python coding. Brendan’s passion for research sparked when he was able to apply the concepts he learned in class to support his purpose: To directly improve the lives of people through technological discovery and innovation in health and medicine.
When Brendan is not performing research, you can often find him serving his community and empowering other students to achieve their own academic successes. He is currently the vice president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) UW Chapter organizing department events on graduate school and industry careers. In addition, he is an Engineering Peer Educator mentoring first-year engineering students in a Fall quarter course (Gen St. 199) ensuring success in their own individual goals. In the future, Brendan plans to enroll in a PhD graduate program studying Biological & Chemical Engineering, where he hopes to become a professor teaching others and also conducting research.
Brendan is grateful for the unconditional support and outstanding mentorship by the Nance Lab, and his mentors Dr. Elizabeth Nance and Mike McKenna. He is also thankful for the generous funding of the Levinson Emerging Scholarship from Dr. and Mrs. Levinson and for supporting his professional and academic aspirations.

Mentors:

Elizabeth Nance, Chemical Engineering; Mike McKenna, Chemical Engineering

Project Title:

A Python-Based Approach for Characterizing Changes in Perineuronal Net Morphology

Luke Bun - Neuroscience

Luke In front of a shrub, in a button upLuke is a senior studying Neuroscience and Neural Computation and Engineering at the University of Washington. He is also a participant in the Undergraduate Computational Neuroscience Training Grant. He spent his first two summers doing research through the UW Health Science Center Minority Student Program. After the summer following his sophomore year, he continued to do research in the lab of Professor Sharona Gordon, where he studied the behavior and regulatory systems of ion channels related to pain sensation. In the spring of his junior year, he began working in the Restorative Technologies Lab led by Professor Chet Moritz. The Lab focuses on engineering electronic and optical methods to restore nervous system function. Luke is studying the modulation of neural circuits in people with spinal cord injuries undergoing rehabilitation with transcutaneous spinal stimulation paired with exercise therapy. This research is an important step in improving spinal stimulation technology and integrating into treatments. He aspires to be a medical researcher and work to integrate novel neural engineering technologies into treatments. He is honored to be a Levinson Emerging Scholar and is deeply appreciative of the generosity of Art and Rita Levinson. He is extremely thankful for the support of his family and various mentors who have supported him throughout his undergraduate education.

Mentor:

Chet Moritz, Electrical Engineering

Project Title:

Neuromodulation of Spinal Networks by Transcutaneous Spinal Stimulation and Exercise Therapy in Spinal Cord Injury

Jerry Cao - Computer Science

Jerry Cao SmilingJerry is a junior majoring in Computer Science. He is a member of the Interdisciplinary Honors Program and is pursuing Departmental Honors. In Winter Quarter of his freshman year, Jerry began research on developing novel sensing technologies. Some of his past work includes generating optimized 3D-printable tactile maps for the visually impaired, building a biosensor for cannabidiol using chemically induced dimerization, and developing a system to continuously record blood pressure using non-invasive optical sensors. His current research focuses on creating an unobtrusive, wearable device to monitor and predict the onset of adverse symptoms caused by health conditions where the body is unable to properly regulate blood circulation, such as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and orthostatic hypotension. After graduation, Jerry plans to obtain a PhD in computer science. Jerry is very grateful for the incredible support and guidance from his mentors, and for the generosity of Art and Rita Levinson.

Mentors:

Jennifer Mankoff, Computer Science; Shwetak Patel, Computer Science

Project Title:

Wearable Cardiovascular Sensing to Predict Adverse Symptoms

Casey Chen - Chemistry

Casey smiling in front of the cameraCasey is a senior studying Chemistry. She joined the Bush Lab in January of 2018. She is interested in studying the development and application of mass spectrometry based methods for the investigation of biological systems. Her current research project is focused on anion exchange chromatography as a method for rapid protein purification and fractionation for native MS analysis. After completing her undergraduate degree, she intends to pursue her PhD in chemistry.
Outside of research, Casey is involved with Free Radicals/PLU, the chemistry and biochemistry club, a TA for the general chemistry series, and a research analyst for a local biotechnology innovation consultancy. In her free time, she enjoys lifting, hiking, and cooking for her friends.
She is incredibly grateful for all the support and mentorship from Dr. Matt Bush and Daniele Canzani, as well as all members of the Bush Group. She would also like to thank Dr. and Mrs. Levinson for their generous support.

Mentors:

Matt Bush, Chemistry; Daniele Canzani, Chemistry

Project Title:

Online Anion Exchange Chromatography for Rapid Protein Separation and Identification by Native Mass Spectrometry

Daniel Guorui Chen- Microbiology and Informatics

Daniel Posing for the cameraDaniel Chen is a junior at the University of Washington majoring in Microbiology and Informatics. He began research at his current lab the summer of 2019 investigating melanoma subpopulations utilizing single-cell technologies, such as scRNA-seq and scATAC-seq. Currently, he uses the single-cell multi-omic paradigm to analyze COVID-19 peripheral blood mononuclear cells to identify the disease state effects of SARS-CoV-2 on patient immune systems. After his undergraduate studies, Daniel intends to pursue an MD-PhD centered on applying biomedical informatic techniques onto human medical challenges. Outside of class and research he enjoys hiking in nature preserves, crocheting amigurumi animals, and playing the piano. Daniel is honored to receive the Levinson Emerging Scholar award and would like to thank Dr. Art Levinson and Mrs. Levinson for their generosity and support in providing such. He would also like to thank and appreciates the guidance from his mentors Dr. Yapeng Su and Dr. James Heath in furthering his undergraduate education and research experience.

Mentors:

James Heath, Institute for Systems Biology and Bioengineering; Yapeng Su, Institute for Systems Biology

Project Title:

Chromatin Landscape Movement in COVID-19 Patient Immune Systems

Devin Eng - Bioengineering

Devin smiling for the cameraDevin is currently a senior majoring in bioengineering. He joined the Kawasumi Lab in his junior year to contribute to cancer research, with an emphasis on skin cancer. In his time at the Kawasumi Lab, he created Python code to analyze caffeine consumption data of 9,000+ subjects and presented his findings of the skin cancer-preventive effects of caffeine on men and women study at the 2020 UW Undergraduate Symposium. Afterward, he helped author a meta-analysis paper (not published yet) on prospective cohort studies about caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee consumption and cancer risk. Currently, Devin is using CRISPR technology to make epigenome edits of DNA demethylation and histone acetylation to reverse cancer phenotypes in skin cancer cells. When healthy cells transform into cancer cells, epigenetic changes occur, decreasing the amount of cancer suppressors. These changes are reversible since they do not involve gene loss, so Devin aims to undo these epigenetic modifications to reverse cancer phenotypes in hopes of contributing to future targeted cancer treatments. After graduation, Devin aims to pursue a Master’s in electrical engineering and help build medical technology that improve the quality of people’s lives. Devin is extremely grateful for the support of his mentor Dr. Masaoki Kawasumi, his family, and the Levinsons for his undergraduate research.

Mentor:

Masaoki Kawasumi, Dermatology

Project Title:

Epigenome Editing of DNA Demethylation and Histone Acetylation to Inhibit Skin Cancer

Skyler Hallinan- Computer Science; Bioengineering; Applied and Computational Mathematical Sciences

Skyler Smiling

 

Skyler is a senior pursuing a triple major in computer science, bioengineering, and applied and computational mathematical sciences. He started research in the Yager Lab his sophomore year, where he has worked on developing a solution for people with kidney failure. His work seeks to create an alternative to dialysis: a simple, easy-to-use solution that would help patients with kidney failure remove toxins from their blood. Along the way, he has also participated in research in the bioinformatics department. Now, Skyler continues his kidney research while also working on natural language processing project research in misinformation detection. Skyler is honored to be named a Levinson Scholar and would like to thank Dr. and Mrs. Levinson for their support. Finally, Skyler would like to thank Dr. Paul Yager and Sujatha Kumar for their mentorship and guidance.

Mentors:

Paul Yager, Bioengineering; Sujatha Kumar, Bioengineering

Project Title:

The Removal of Excess Tryptophan in the Small Intestine via Orally Ingested Hydrogel Microspheres

Santino Iannone-Microbiology

Santino smiling for the cameraSantino is a senior at the University of Washington studying Microbiology and Data Science. In the spring of his freshman year, he joined the Lagunoff lab. Since then, he continues to help untangle the molecular mechanisms behind tumor formation in Kaposi’s Sarcoma. Towards the end of his junior year, his interest in computational biology led him to also begin work in the Wang lab, where he works to apply machine learning methods to solve biological problems. His current project aims to investigate the genetic factors involved in the brain’s resilience to dementia. This project hopes to identify specific molecular pathways and to elucidate possible targets for dementia therapeutics. Santino plans on continuing research in computational biology and aspires to expand the presence of the field in undergraduate education. Aside from research, Santino enjoys hiking and writing in his free time. He is deeply thankful for the mentorship of Dr. Michael Lagunoff and Dr. Yuliang Wang, and is excited to continue working with them. Santino is also grateful for the generosity of Dr. Arthur Levinson and Mrs. Rita Levinson for their continued support of undergraduate research.

Mentor:

Michael Lagunoff (Microbiology), Yuliang Wang (Computer Science and Engineering)

Project Title

Transcriptional Analysis of Dementia Resilience in the Brain

Raida Karim - Computer Science

Raida Smiling for cameraRaida is a senior majoring in Computer Science at the University of Washington (Seattle). She is pursuing undergraduate research in the Human-Centered Robotics Lab of Paul G. Allen School being advised by Dr. Maya Cakmak. Raida’s current research focuses on formulating therapeutic techniques to effectively measure and intervene stress levels in school-attending adolescents through the means of social robots. The excitement of meeting critical human needs and achieving social good inspires her to create high-quality technologies. She decided to major in Computer Science, as she really likes the idea of having a broader impact in society by using her tech skills to solve real-world problems. She aspires to contribute to the field of computing with a focus on sustainable human and social good through the lens of robotics, machine learning, and human-computer interaction. She is very thankful for the support from her mentors, and for the generosity of Art and Rita Levinson.

Mentor:

Maya Cakmak, Computer Science & Engineering

Project Title:

Effective Measurement And Intervention of Adolescent Stress Levels with Social Robot

Ximing Lu - Computer Science

Gloria in front of cameraXiming Lu is a senior at the University of Washington majoring in Computer Science. Her research interests center around machine learning, computer vision and natural language processing. She works with Prof. Linda Shapiro and Prof. Yejin Choi. Her projects with Prof. Linda Shapiro focus on computer-aided cancer diagnosis. The aim of her projects is to aid pathologists in cancer diagnosis procedure by building computer-aided biopsy diagnostic systems that could reduce diagnostic uncertainties due to the subjectivity of human. She developed HATNet, an end-to-end network that not only could produce accurate and robust diagnostic decision on gigapixel size histopathological cancer images, but also be able to identify clinically relevant tissue structures as diagnostic evidence. Her work could be used to reduce misdiagnosis rate in clinical setting. Beyond research, she’s passionate about supporting educational equality and encouraging inclusiveness and diversity in CSE community. She is the recipient of Lisa Simonyi Prize this year. After graduation, she plans to obtain a PhD and ultimately pursue a career as a researcher. Ximing is very grateful for the help and support she has received from her mentors, and the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Levinson.

Mentor:

Linda Shapiro, Computer Science & Engineering

Project Title:

HATNet: An End-to-End Holistic Attention Network for Diagnosis of Cancer Biopsy Images

Tai Nguyen - Biochemistry; Biology (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental)

Tai Smiling for the cameraTai is a senior at the University of Washington studying Biochemistry and Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology. He joined Dr. Ray Monnat’s lab during his freshman year and has since been conducting research on Fanconi Anemia (FA). FA is a rare genetic disease characterized by bone marrow failure, impaired DNA repair and an exceptionally high risk of cancer. His current project is focused on using genetic engineering to establish a cancer cell line disease model that would foster future research surrounding head and neck cancer in FA patients. The Levinson Emerging Scholars Award will assist with his extension projects, which are aimed towards creating a 3D tumor organoid model that would accurately reflect primary tumors, and exploring FA metabolomics to identify potential biomarkers that could be used as a method of early detection. His other research interests include cancer genomics and immunology. After graduation, Tai would like to continue conducting cancer research before attending medical school and intends on pursuing a career as a physician-scientist. He would like to thank his mentors, Dr. Ray Monnat and Weiliang Tang, for their outstanding guidance and continuous support, and Dr. Arthur Levinson and Mrs. Rita Levinson for their kind generosity.

Mentors:

Ray Monnat, Laboratory Medicine, Pathology, and Genome Sciences; Weiliang Tang, Laboratory Medicine, Pathology and Genome Sciences

Project Title:

Fanconi Anemia Head and Neck Cancer Cell Line Resource

Corinna Oswell - Neuroscience

Corinna Smiling during a hikeCorinna is a senior at the University of Washington studying neuroscience. Since the spring of her freshman year she has been studying molecular mechanisms of opioid addiction in the Bruchas lab. She has been funded by the Mary Gates Research Scholarship and the Scan Design Innovations in Pain Research, now joined by the Levinson Emerging Scholars Award due to the generous support of Art and Rita Levinson. She plans to pursue a PhD in neuroscience next fall and continue working to discover how opioids cause motivated behaviors.

Mentors:

Michael Bruchas, Anesthiology and Pain Medicine; Daniel Castro, Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

Project Title:

Biased Signaling in a Mu-Opioid Receptor Mediated Circuit that Drives Motivated Behaviors

Ruby Padgett - Public Health

Ruby posing for the cameraRuby is currently a senior in the School of Public Health. After joining the Murry Lab her sophomore year, she developed a strong interest in regenerative medicine. She values learning about the intersection of public health and the research process, and plans to carry this understanding forward into medical school, and eventually in her career as a physician. Her current research aims to use human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hPSC-CMs) to improve cardiac function after myocardial infarction. She is extremely grateful to her mentor, Dr. Elaheh Karbassi for her guidance and encouragement, and would like to thank Dr. Lil Pabon and Dr. Charles Murry for all their support and advice. Ruby could not imagine her undergraduate research experience without them. She would also like to thank Dr. and Mrs. Levinson for their generosity and commitment to helping undergraduate students prioritize their research, and hopes to give back in the same way to college students in the future.

Mentor:

Charles Murry, Pathology

Project Title:

Investigating the Role of PGC1B in Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocyte Maturation Using a CRISPR Activation System

Varun Sridhar - Microbiology

Varun in labVarun is a senior who is majoring in microbiology at the University of Washington – Seattle. His fascination with microbiology led him to the Dandekar Lab in his sophomore year where he studies quorum sensing (QS), a bacterial cell-cell communication system that activates the gene expression of public goods and virulence factors when the population density reaches a sufficient threshold. The Dandekar Lab studies QS and the social behaviors that it leads to in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic pathogen responsible for many infections in cystic fibrosis patients. Varun is exploring how anti-activators, a trio of proteins that attenuate QS, play a role in establishing and regulating the QS threshold. By elucidating how anti-activators contribute to QS regulation, Varun hopes to establish treatments for P. aeruginosa infections that are not dependent on antibiotics. After graduating from UW, Varun plans to pursue a PhD degree in microbiology and establish a career as a research professor. He is grateful for the guidance and advice from his mentors, Dr. Ajai Dandekar and Dr. Kyle Asfahl, as well as the generosity and support of Dr. Art Levinson and Mrs. Rita Levinson.

Mentors:

Ajai Dandekar, Microbiology; Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine); Kyle Asfahl, Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine

Project Title:

Quorum Sensing Anti-Activators of Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Millicent Anne Wijenaike-Bogle - Public Health

Milli Wijenaike smiling in front of a cameraMilli Wijenaike-Bogle is a junior at the University of Washington majoring in Public Health and minoring in Data Science. She is particularly passionate about improving health outcomes in marginalized populations and furthering the field of global health. This passion led her to the PREDICT study at the VA under the guidance of Dr. Hendrickson. The Hendrickson group investigates how trauma can alter noradrenergic regulation, resulting in PTSD symptom expression and how increased noradrenergic release during sleep impacts sleep quality and can result in the production/exacerbation of trauma symptoms during the day. The Hendrickson group also investigates the use of the blood pressure drug Prazosin, an α1 antagonist, in reducing nightmares and alleviating PTSD symptoms. Milli’s research focuses on studying and reducing Hostile Assessment Bias (HAB) in people who have experienced trauma. Hostile Assessment Bias refers to the tendency to interpret a neutral or ambiguous situation as hostile or dangerous. Specifically, her research examines the
link between Hostile Assessment Bias and PTSD severity, the relationship between Hostile Assessment Bias and functional impairment, and finally, the impact of prazosin in normalizing Hostile Assessment Bias patterns with the goal of alleviating PTSD symptoms. Outside of research and school, Milli is also a community health study assistant on a project striving to reduce hypertension in Indigenous populations through IREACH at WSU and serves as a Public Health Major Steering Committee Representative. She has also worked as a data extraction assistant at the Institute for Health Metrics. She also enjoys reading, painting, and engaging in various musical endeavors. After graduating, Milli is planning on a gap year where she will hopefully work full-time and travel independently for six months before attending graduate school to earn an MPH and a PhD in Epidemiology. Milli is extremely honored and excited to be a Levinson Emerging Scholar and would like to thank Dr. and Mrs. Levinson for their generous support. She would also like to thank Dr. Hendrickson for her incredible mentorship and for the opportunity to be part of such a dynamic, exciting, and passionate lab group. Finally, Milli is grateful to her family for their unending love and support.

Mentor:

Rebecca Hendrickson, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Project Title:

Application of Prazosin in Normalizing Hostile Assessment Bias Patterns and Functional Impairment after Trauma

Shenwei Wu - Chemistry (ACS Certified), Mathematics, Physics (Comprehensive)

Shenwei holding a pipetteShenwei is a third-year student pursuing majors in chemistry, mathematics, and physics. As a member of the Cossairt Group, he has been actively engaged in the synthesis and characterization of colloidal semiconductor nanomaterials for the past two years. His previous work focused on exploring CdSe nanostructures as highly efficient photocatalysts to drive lignocellulosic decomposition and as highly emissive light media in integrated photonic devices. Building on these experiences, he seeks to further investigate the potentials of II-VI and III-V nanomaterials. Through his studies, Shenwei hopes to unveil and understand more of nature’s mysteries and share his learning with others. For this reason, he enjoys working as a CLUE math tutor and plans to attend graduate school to continue enriching his knowledge. Conducting research in the Cossairt Lab has been an invaluable component of Shenwei’s undergraduate career. He would like to thank the Cossairt Lab members and past graduates for helping him become a well-rounded scholar. Shenwei is grateful for Dr. and Mrs. Levinson’s support and is thrilled to further his research and education as a Levinson scholar.

Mentors:

Max Friedfeld, Chemistry; Brandi Cossairt, Chemistry

Project Title:

Narrow-Linewidth Emissive Nanoplatelets as Light Media in Integrated Photonic Circuits