Undergraduate Research Program

2020-21 Levinson Scholars

2020-21

 

Varun in lab

Varun Sridhar, 2020-21 Levinson Scholar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Mentor:

Matt Bush, 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 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.

Mentor:

Dr. James Heath, President and Professor at ISB, Distinguished Affiliate Professor at UW Bioengineering; Dr. Yapeng Su, Research Scientist at ISB

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

Jakub Filipek- computer science

Jakub is a senior undergraduate at the University of Washington studying computer science. He is most interested in interdisciplinary research, which has led him to research in quantum computing; an intersection of physics and computer science. He joined Professors Shih-Chieh’s group in the fall of freshman year, where he got introduced to machine learning and the basics of quantum physics. The current project, under the mentorship of Professors Shih-Chieh Hsu, Nathan Wiebe, and Alessandro Roggero, is focused on creating a hybrid machine learning system, which would use classical neural networks to scale down data so that it can fit in near-term quantum devices. This would allow a fair comparison of classical and quantum algorithms, as well as the more rapid development of quantum algorithms. In addition to research, he is taking graduate-level courses and seminars in machine learning to gain a better understanding of the field. After graduation, Jakub plans to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science, based around machine learning applications in other fields, hopefully including quantum computing. Ultimately, he wants to provide well-tested machine learning systems, which can reduce the barrier of entry and workload to these fields.

Mentor:

Shih-Chieh Hsu, Physics; Alessandro Roggero, Physics; Nathan Wiebe, Physics

Project Title:

Scaled QUantum IDentifier (SQUID) – Hybrid Classical Quantum ML Framework

Alicia Gim- Chemical Engineering

Alicia Gim smiling for the cameraAlicia is fifth-year senior in chemical engineering. Under the guidance of Profs. Jonathan Posner and Ayokunle Olanrewaju in the Posner research group, she is updating an antiretroviral diagnostics model based in probability theory. Outside of the Posner group, Alicia is studying Bayesian/Kalman sensor fusion in the student organization EcoCAR. Previously, she worked with the Drain research group at UW Global Health, Medicine, and Epidemiology as a CoMotion scholar, and with the Varani lab at UW Chemistry. Following graduation Alicia plans to gain diverse industry experience, then earn a doctorate degree through computational research related to process control, accessibility, and sustainability. Alicia is grateful to the amazing mentors she has met in the Posner group, Drain group, Varani lab, and at EcoCAR. She thanks the Washington Research Foundation for supporting her research interests.

Mentor:

Jonathan Posner (ME, ChemE, FAMED), Ayokunle Olanrewaju (ME)

Project Title:

Automating and Optimizing a Probabilistic Model for Antiretroviral Diagnostics

Skyler Hallinan- Computer Science, Bioengineering, ACMS

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.

Mentor:

Dr. Paul Yager, Bioengineering, Sujatha Kumar, Bioengineering

Project Title:

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

Hannah Lea- Biochemistry

Hannah smiling for the cameraHannah is a junior at the University of Washington majoring in biochemistry. Hannah has been a member of the Theberge lab in the UW Department of Chemistry for the past two years. She has had the opportunity to work on multiple projects and has worked with multiple collaborators. Hannah’s favorite part about research is how much she is able to challenge and expand her knowledge through problem solving, thinking of new research projects, and presenting her work to members of the scientific community. Her current project is measuring chemical signals between cells in whole blood using biologically-homing particles. She is excited to continue advancing this project and see the impact she can make in advancing knowledge about signaling that occurs in the blood. After her time at UW, Hannah hopes to become a pediatric oncologist. She wants to combine her passion for medicine, working with children, and research to help patients and increase the research that is done on rare forms of childhood cancer. Hannah would like to thank her PI, Ashleigh Theberge, and all of her other mentors and members in her lab who have helped her to get to the point she is at and who gave her a chance to discover her love for medical research.

Mentor:

Ashleigh Theberge, UW Department of Chemistry

Project Title:

Measuring Chemical Signals Between Cells using Biologically-Homing Particles

Ximing Lu- Computer Science

Ximing 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

Yonas Meshesha- Bioengineering

Yonas smiling for the cameraYonas Meshesha is a senior studying bioengineering. Yonas joined the Posner research group and is now working on developing a cheap point of care diagnostic assay to assess adherence to HIV treatment plans and prevent further infection. After graduation he plans to pursue an MD with the goal of addressing health problems that disproportionately affect minority groups while creating accessible solutions. Outside of class, he is a teaching assistant in the bioengineering department and tutors at the Engineering Academic Center. In his free time, he enjoys lifting, with plans to compete in a bodybuilding contest, reading fantasy novels, and morning runs around U-district. Yonas is grateful to work with an outstanding and encouraging mentor like Dr. Ayokunle Olanrewaju, and to the Washington Research Foundation for their support in his research endeavors.

Mentor:

Dr. Ayokunle Olanrewaju, Mechanical Engineering

Project Title:

Measuring Antiretroviral Drug Levels In Near Patient Format

Tai Nguyen- B.S. Biochemistry and 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.

Mentor:

Dr. Ray Monnat and Weiliang Tang, Department of Laboratory Medicine-Pathology & Genome Sciences

Project Title:

Fanconi Anemia Head and Neck Cancer Cell Line Resource

Corinna Oswell- Neuroscience

Corinna 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.

Mentor:

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

Project Title:

Biased signaling in a mu-opioid receptor mediated circuit that drives motivated behaviors

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.

Mentor:

Dr. Ajai Dandekar (Department of Microbiology; Department of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine), Dr. Kyle Asfahl (Department of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine)

Project Title:

Quorum sensing anti-activators of Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Chaoyang Tang- Bioengineering

Chaoyang Tang is a senior undergraduate majoring in bioengineering at the University of Washington. Started as a freshman over three years ago seeking answers to his future role in the medical world, he has been enrolled in a total of four research projects thus far. His current independent research resides in the field of tissue engineering, where material properties of either natural or synthetic origin are combined with our biology for better tissue regeneration and beyond. Specifically, with the guidance of Dr. Marta Scatena, Dr. Buddy Ratner, and Dr. Le Zhen, he is now modulating both macrophage expression at the material-tissue interface and pre-vascularization of poly(HEMA) scaffolds in an attempt to dampen foreign body reaction and promote tissue vascularization. It is believed that his research findings will be valuable in elucidating the correlations between macrophage polarization, material porosity, scaffold pre-vasculature, and in vivo tissue vascularization, which in turn holds promises in developing a cell therapeutics that improves the overall biocompatibility of foreign implants. Chaoyang would like to thank his three mentors for their continuous support. He is also grateful for the Washington Research Foundation that recognized and supported his efforts in developing regenerative medicine.

Mentor:

Dr. Marta Scatena, Dr. Buddy Ratner, Dr. Le Zhen, all from Department of Bioengineering

Project Title:

Modulating Macrophage Phenotype and Scaffold Pre-Vascularization to the Tissue Healing of Sphere-Templated Poly(HEMA) Scaffolds

Yennhi Vohoang- Biochemistry, English

Yennhi Vohoang is a senior studying Biochemistry. In her third year, she started working with her current mentor, Dr. Daniel Yang, on a project centered around desmoplakin and cardiovascular disease. They identified a family that was positive for a pathogenic variant of the desmoplakin gene; this variant resulted in a nonsense mutation that resulted in premature truncation. Yennhi is currently investigating the mechanism behind this truncation mutation leading to arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy. She mainly works with induced pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes that were isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells. These patient specific stem cell derived cardiomyocytes have the potential to be effective models for arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy. After completing her undergraduate degree, Yennhi plans to pursue a PhD dedicated to researching the connection between desmoplakin and cardiovascular diseases. She would like to express her sincere appreciation for all her mentors as well as the Washington Research Foundation for supporting her research.

Mentor:

Daniel Yang, Cardiology

Project Title:

Elucidating the Mechanisms by Which Premature Truncation Mutations in Desmoplakin Lead to Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy

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:

Dr. Hendrickson, Psychiatry

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.

Mentor:

Dr. Max Friedfeld and Dr. Brandi Cossairt, Chemistry

Project Title:

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