Undergraduate Research Program

2016-17 Cohort

Nasser Alrashdi

Nasser Alrashdi
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Chemistry
Mentor: Laura Murphy, Chemistry

Contact: nasser20@uw.edu

Current research project: Metal Free Ring Opening Metathesis Polymerization.

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Ring Opening Metathesis Polymerization (ROMP) is a method for producing functional polymers that utilizes transition metal initiators. Some applications, such as drug delivery, optics, and electronics, cost and contamination by residual metal initiator are concerns. After the polymerization, the metal initiator can be considerably difficult to remove and cause toxicity problems, as well as affecting the stability and properties of the polymer. We discovered a metal-free ROMP method that addresses these concerns. This method uses an organic initiator, instead of a metal one, and a photo-redox mediator that activates the initiator. Currently, I am working toward developing a MF ROMP system amenable to 3D printing via digital light projection.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
For me, the most exciting and rewarding aspect of undergraduate research is the ability to gain hands-on experience in my field. It makes what I’ve been learning in science classes seem more applicable. This also allows me to produce a deeper understanding of the scientific knowledge, especially when I can collaborate and discuss the experimental results with my PI(principal investigator) and other group members, who have a masters degree and/or PHD.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would tell them to start ASAP looking for research opportunities prevalent to their intended majors. The sooner they get involved, the more knowledge, skills, and experience one can gain regarding their study of interest and future career.

Regupathi Angappan

Regupathi Angappan
Major: Physics
Minor: Physics, Mathematics
Mentor: Terry Swanson, Earth and Space Sciences

Contact: reguang@uw.edu

Current research project: Analyzing Remanent Magnetization for High-Resolution Correlation of Lacustrine Sediments

 


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance

The research aims to use the changing magnetic field record on Earth, that is preserved in sediments due to the presence of small magnetic minerals, to determine and constrain the age of geological events. The age constraint will be much more accurate with a higher resolution. It also gives us some insight into the Earth’s magnetic field over time.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The ability to apply the information that is gained in the classroom in a very practical manner to solve pressing and interesting questions, is very exciting and truly humbling; it has strengthened my academic background and it has given me the opportunity to be creative and work with other outstanding academicians.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I strongly encourage everyone to pursue their interests and find their passion in research. We have a campus with many different resources to ensure success in research, and we all ought to make good use of it; visit URP!

Julia Bauman

Julia Bauman
Major: Neurobiology
Minor: Philosophy
Mentor: Paul Crane, Internal Medicine

Contact: jbauman2@uw.edu

Current research project: Associated Risk Factors of Cognitively-Defined Alzheimer’s Disease Subtypes

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I am working on a study that uses cognitive, biological, and genetic data from various cohort studies to investigate potential sub-types of Alzheimer’s disease. My independent project involves looking at the different risk factors associated with these Alzheimer’s subgroups.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I knew that I wanted to get involved with undergraduate research before I came to UW, so I got started during my freshman year. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to study but was broadly interested in human disease research. I actually found my position on the URP database (thanks URP!). I applied, met the PI, and immediately knew that it was a great fit. Research has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my undergraduate career and I’m so glad I got involved early!

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Just do it, you won’t regret it. There are so many benefits to doing undergraduate research: you get to apply what you’re learning in class to real-world problems, you make amazing connections with faculty and other students, and you’ll have fun!

Gabrielle (Gabby) Benuska

Gabrielle (Gabby) Benuska
Major: Bioengineering
Mentor: Cole DeForest, Chemical Engineering

Contact: gbenuska@uw.edu

Current research project: Controlling 4D Stem Cell Differentiation in Hydrogels Using Site-Specifically Modified Growth Factors

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
My current research involves controlling the differentiation of human Mesenchymal Stem Cells (hMSCs) using modified growth proteins TGF-beta and BMP-2 which promote differentiation of hMSCs into cartilage and bone. The proteins Jared Shadish, my graduate student mentor, and I have synthesized are modified with a peptide so that we can use light chemistries to pattern the proteins into a hydrogel. The bound proteins can then control the growth and differentiation of the cells encapsulated in the hydrogel. However, before we pattern the proteins into hydrogels, we first need to verify bioactivity of the proteins we synthesized by differentiating hMSCs.

What is the most challenging and/or sometimes frustrating aspect of your undergraduate research experience? What did you learn from it?
Research doesn’t work a large majority of the time. It involves a massive amount of trial and error, and a lot of patience and determination. But in the long run, the pay off is very rewarding for me. One of the greatest feelings from being involved in research is when I have been trying the same experiment for months, and then one day all of that hard work pays off and it works out.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
There is an overwhelming amount of research, especially at UW, so it can be really challenging to figure out what you want to commit to. The sooner you start looking for research, the more opportunities you can take advantage of.

Katie Bigham

Katie Bigham
Major: Oceanography, Earth & Space Sciences: Geology
Mentor: Deborah Kelley, Oceanography

Contact: bighamkt@uw.edu

Current research project: Interpretation of the Relationship between Benthic Fauna, Geologic Distributions, and Methane Seeps at Southern Hydrate Ridge, Oregon Continental Margin

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I am working to quantify the biologic community hosted by a methane seep site off the coast of Oregon, called Southern Hydrate Ridge. This is done by analyzing photos collected at the site by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). I am using the data to assess the biologic diversity and abundance, as well as investigating the relationship between the biota and the local chemical and geologic processes.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
For me, one of the most exciting things about being involved in research is all of the other opportunities it opened up for me. Because of my involvement I’ve had the chance to live and work at sea during the summer, participate in conferences full of world experts, and take classes off campus.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Be persistent. It can be disheartening to be rejected for a position or even to never hear from someone you’ve contacted but there are so many opportunities out there that you will find the right fit as long as you keep looking.

Rachel Boccamazzo

Rachel Boccamazzo
Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Emily Carrington, Biology

Contact: raegun@uw.edu

Current research project: Mussel Attachment in a High CO2 World: An Integrated Ecomaterials Approach

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
We are looking into post-translational modification of mussel attachment proteins under stressors related to ocean acidification (increased pH, temperature, dissolved CO2). Mussel attachment is essential for their success as intertidal species and their success is important for a variety of connected species in that diverse marine zone. Shellfish are often susceptible to small changes in pH in the ocean as they depend on calcification to make their shells. Mussels are unique in that they also attach to substrate using protein threads called “byssus” which are incredibly strong. We want to know if ocean acidification is impacting the structural integrity of these threads during their manufacture and afterwards.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I decided before I even began my academic career that I wanted to be a research scientist and all of my choices have been moving toward that goal. I wanted to change the world through discovery. My first lab position came when I transferred to the UW from community college as a junior. I participated in the Washington NASA Summer Research Program and worked with a synthetic biology lab in the Molecular Science and Engineering Department. A whole summer doing research was a dream come true.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t focus too much on what exact kind of research you want to do. There are so many options that you can easily get overwhelmed. Just try something out as soon as you can and you will learn what type of research really excites you. And have fun!

Julian Boss

Major: Informatics
Mentor: Katie Davis, iSchool

Contact: bossj@uw.edu

Current research project: Playing in the Virtual Sandbox: Middle School Students’ Collaborative Practices in Minecraft

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I study how playing games together brings people together. In my research we look at kids playing in a virtual space, Minecraft, and analyze how they collaborate with each other. We look at their verbal and physical interaction to better understand how people’s personas develop, how we can improve collaboration, and how to teach others through games.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research the second I got to UW. My mom is a researcher, and wanting to follow in her footsteps, I immediately started asking around for research opportunities. I was turned down the first few times, but managed to schedule a meeting with the dean of the iSchool (I wasn’t in the major at the time, they’re very welcoming!). He gave me a list of professors I should reach out to, I eventually found Katie Davis, and we started on my project right away!

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be scared! Even if you get turned down or can’t find the best project, there’s no harm in asking! At worst, a professor sees a driven individual trying to expand their own and other people’s knowledge.

Caroline Bridgwater

Caroline Bridgwater
Major: Microbiology
Mentor: Emily Godfrey, Family Medicine; Jennifer Rabbitts, Anesthesia and Pain Medicine; Carla Grandori, SEngine Medicine (ISB)

Contact: cmb20@uw.edu

Current research project: High-throughput Drug Screening on In Vitro Cancer Cells

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I started in the Department of Family Medicine doing background research for an informational video counseling women on the side effects of the hormonal IUD (an intrauterine birth control method). I then worked on a statistical and qualitative analysis project at Seattle Children’s Research Institute that is helping to create a cognitive-behavioral therapy intervention to reduce pain for children after surgery. Now I work at the Institute for Systems Biology where my lab uses robotic screening technology to test how well certain cancer drugs selectively kill tumor cells in patient biopsies. This information allows our lab to recommend individualized, less-toxic, effective targeted therapies to patients and oncologists.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most rewarding aspect of undergrad research is exposure. Exposure to great minds, to real-world problems and solutions, and to life in your intended field. I have had the opportunity to work in three very different research environments, which all have helped me to experience different parts of the medical career while making valuable connections with mentors. When learning is restricted to a classroom, you miss these opportunities for exposure to the real-world aspects of your career.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be afraid just to start somewhere. You don’t have to have a specific plan of what you want to do or research long-term. If you get involved in research in something you are interested in, your experiences will guide you to further opportunities.

Katherine Brower

Katherine Brower
Major: Microbiology
Mentor: Brian Wasko, Pathology

Contact: kbrower@uw.edu

Current research project: Effects of Iron Dyshomeostasis on the Vascular ATPase

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
As humans age, the chance of developing diseases such as cancer and heart disease increases. By examining aging at the genetic level, it may be possible to eliminate the effects of aging and lower the chance of developing age related diseases. To do this, my research utilizes Saccharomyces cerevisiae, yeast and determines the effect of the types of nutrients available such as vitamins and metals. I am specifically looking at the genes and metals such as iron, zinc, and manganese, that affect the protein Vacuolar ATPase due to it’s importance in regulating cell death and removing misfolded proteins. Vacuolar ATPase is important in the study of aging because as a cell becomes older, this enzyme’s function decreases.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most rewarding aspect of my undergraduate research experience has been the community I have become involved in within the lab. As a transfer student, I was worried about finding a group of students that I could truly belong to. However, after joining the research lab, I began to have a stronger sense of belonging to UW and created lasting memories, friends, and developed stronger professional skills. From personal experience, another benefit is that you can find your partner.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would highly recommend that anyone interested in becoming involved in undergraduate research should pursue it. Although it may be daunting, participating in a research lab is a great character building and enjoyable experience.

Dorothy Cabantan

Dorothy Cabantan
Major: Neurobiology
Mentor: Stefan Sandberg, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Contact: dagc@uw.edu

Current research project: Independent Chemical Verification of Electrically-evoked Dopamine Release (A.Y. 2015-16)

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
When an unknown sample is collected, it is important to verify that the analyte being measured is the analyte of interest. To this end, five criteria have been proposed to identify an unknown analyte being measured in the brain: electrochemical, anatomical, physiological, pharmacological, and independent chemical analysis. Dopamine has been established under these five criteria, all except for independent analysis. To circumvent this, I created training sets from chemical fingerprints called cyclic voltammograms (CVs) in vitro, which were then statistically compared to in vivo CVs, in terms of qualitative and quantitative agreement. With these CVs, we are able to test the performance of a statistical calibration method known as chemometrics.

What is the most challenging and/or sometimes frustrating aspect of your undergraduate research experience? What did you learn from it?

Things will not always go as planned. There were days when I would spend long hours at the lab, only to have my fragile carbon-fiber electrode break during my last trial. This meant that I would need to start all over again. When working with calibrations, precision and accuracy are the gold standard. However, so is an optimistic attitude! Although difficult, I’m glad I never gave up and learned to stay resilient throughout these teachable moments. At the end of the day, it was all worth it!

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
It’s never too late nor too early to get involved! If you are interested in a TA’s or professor’s project, don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation with them. Departmental websites, your advisors, and the URP program are excellent resources too!

Maria Cage

Maria Cage
Major: Early Childhood & Family Studies
Mentor: Phillip Thurtle, Comparative History of Ideas; Kathleen Meeker, Special Education

Contact: cagem2@uw.edu

Current research project: Rediscovering Play

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
My research takes an interdisciplinary approach in reframing play as a mindset that might be reexamined and revisited by adults who care for (or teach) young children. I am currently conducting a literature review to better situate my assertions within the body of Early Childhood Development literature, and am also continuing to incorporate theories from anthropology and psychology as foundational points of reference. In the upcoming months, I hope to expand on my conception of play, and identify possible implications this might evidence across the breadth of early childhood learning environments.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
Participating in research has literally changed my relationship with the knowledge I continue to gain as a student. Engaging in independent research has provided an intimate space within which I am free to explore what is really fascinating to me. And I must admit, it has been personally rewarding to push my comfort level, through both failures and successes, to find that I am capable of much more than I’d allowed myself to imagine. Research continues to be an expansive and exciting endeavor!

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would encourage all students to trust that there are enormous supports and encouragement that will help them learn as they research. Don’t be afraid to jump in and try a unique way of learning and engaging. Your interest and enthusiasm are valued!

Alexie Carletti

Alexie Carletti
Major: Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Mentor: Josh Woodward, Microbiology

Contact: lexcarle@uw.edu

Current research project: Determination of Segmented Filamentous Bacteria Colonization and Dysbiosis in the Intestines of Mice Lacking RECON, a Newly Described Pattern Recognition Receptor

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Recently, our lab discovered the first bacterial cyclic dinucleotide pattern recognition receptor, RECON. Work in vitro has characterized how RECON controls NF-kB and in turn controls inflammatory gene activation. In my project, we want to determine if loss of RECON affects bacterial growth in vivo. We have recently made a RECON knockout mouse and a preliminary histology work up of this mouse revealed they have segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB) bloom in their small intestines with low-grade inflammation. We are quantitatively determining whether SFB is indeed colonizing the RECON KO mice and if there is dysbiosis among other gut floral species.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
My junior year I took a microbiology class as a prerequisite for dental school, but little did I know that I would fall in love with the material. I joined my professor’s lab and found my passion for research and learning that had previously been missing. Being able to synthesize material I have learned in my microbiology and immunology classes and apply it to my specific project, has contributed to my understanding of what being a scientist means and the context of science in broader society.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Getting started in research your freshman or sophomore year gives you time to grow in the lab and develop your skills. It is amazing how much knowledge you gain from hands on work versus classroom learning!

Shuvam Chaudhuri

Major: Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Minor: Entrepreneurship
Mentor: Zhinan Jin, Biochemistry

Contact: shuvamc@uw.edu

Current research project: Activation Pathway of a Nucleoside Analog Inhibiting RSV Polymerase

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
My research involved characterizing the phosphorylation pathways of certain nucleosides and their analogues to see if they can be used as prodrugs in the human body. In simpler terms, I was trying to find out what enzymes are involved in catalyzing what reactions for certain drugs and certain compounds. Additionally, I was looking at what rates these drugs were metabolized to see how effectively they would be utilized in the human body.

What is the most challenging and/or sometimes frustrating aspect of your undergraduate research experience? What did you learn from it?

One of the most frustrating things about research for me is the high rate of failure you experience when conducting research. When you are developing an assay the experiments are very time consuming and often the results can be absolutely inconclusive. What it has taught me is to be comfortable with failure. I now can pursue different adventures and projects and not be afraid of failure which has opened me up to a lot of opportunities I may not have seized before.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Do not give up. It may seem tough to get a position at first; if you are persistent and sincere in what you say however, it will work out. What results can be one of the most eye-opening and rewarding experiences of your life.

Derek Chen

Derek Chen
Major: Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Mentor: Britany Ferrell, Surgery

Contact: dchen8@uw.edu

Current research project: Comparing Outcomes of Drugs and Appendectomy

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
We are looking to see if antibiotics is more effective in treating appendicitis compared to a general appendectomy approach.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most rewarding aspect of my undergraduate research experience is interacting with patients and chatting with them about their health care experiences.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
It’s never too late to get involved with research! The campus is large, and there are many opportunities of research here at the UW. If you know you’re interested in something, there’s most likely a lab out there researching that question!

Mackenzie Croy

Mackenzie Croy
Major: Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Mentor: Bonny Brewer,Genome Sciences

Contact: mcroy@uw.edu

Current research project: Investigating Replication Stress in the Highly Repetitive rDNA Region of Budding Yeast

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I use yeast as a model organism to study a genetic mutation that causes dwarfism in humans. Areas all along the DNA called origins of replication recruit proteins and initiate DNA synthesis. A highly repetitive region of these origins is found in the rDNA locus and is used to encode ribosomes to synthesize proteins. I manipulate factors involved in this process in order to better understand the mechanisms of DNA replication.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
My favorite part of my undergraduate research experience has been the practical application of the things I learn in my classes. I love getting to incorporate the knowledge I get from my Biology coursework and tying it into the research I do in lab. It has been amazing to learn more about myself and what I can accomplish when I’m passionate about the work I do. Undergraduate research has helped me take what I’ve learned in class and apply it to real-world problems in research.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
If any student is interested in undergraduate research I would tell them to visit the Undergraduate Research Program and go for it! Undergraduate research is a great way to get involved and get to know faculty in any department.

Kolena Dang

Kolena Dang
Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Maitreya Dunham, Genome Sciences; Elyse Hope, Genome Sciences

Contact: kolenad@uw.edu

Current research project: Determining the Genetic Mechanisms of Cell Aggregation and Surface Sticking in Evolved Strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
This two-part project aims to determine the genetic pathways behind flocculation, an aspect of biofilm formation, and wall-sticking behavior in yeast. The first component involves molecular cloning techniques to identify a mutation in yeast strains responsible for observed flocculation. The second involves other genomic and strain engineering techniques to seek mutations responsible for the observed wall-sticking phenotype.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I became involved in undergraduate research winter quarter of my freshman year by reaching out to Dr. Maitreya Dunham, my lab’s principal investigator. After reading about her lab’s work, I was interested in the subject of genomic evolution and variation in human genetics. I decided to reach out to gain lab experience and learn about the applications of lab research in the medical field, a field which I aspire to join someday.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
It is never too early to become involved in research. Research is a great way to gain professional skills, network, and learn about a discipline you are interested in through first-hand experiences.

Quynh Do

Quynh Do
Major: Biochemistry, Chemistry
Mentor: Christine Luscombe, Materials Science & Engineering

Contact: quynhdo@uw.edu

Current research project: Synthesis and C-H Activation of Benzobisoxazole

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
For a long time, solar energy has been praised as an excellent alternative form of energy for petroleum fuel. However, the cost synthesis and production of solar cell is too expensive to make it affordable to every household. More specifically, it commonly takes 10-15 steps along with some expensive and toxic chemicals to produce basic solar cell through conventional coupling reactions such as Stille or Kumada coupling. Therefore, C-H activation research has gained attention of scientist around the world as it can potentially combine the monomers to produce polymer without any functional groups. My research focuses on the synthesis of a new benzobisoxazole-based monomer that can potentially perform C-H activation.

What is the most challenging and/or sometimes frustrating aspect of your undergraduate research experience? What did you learn from it?
Since the monomer I am synthesizing now is a totally new compound that has never been made before, sometimes I find it extremely challenging to finish a step in my synthesis. There was this specific step where I was stuck for exactly two months and totally could not move on since the product produced was not enough for the next step. I was frustrated and upset at first since I thought I was not good enough for the research. However, I learn to try different chemicals to make the reaction work.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
The best advice that I can give from my own experience is to try to apply for any available opportunities. When I apply for the Summer Research Programs, I thought I would not get into any of them, but I did. If I can do it, anyone can do it!

Ellie Garcia

Ellie Garcia
Majors: Biology, Psychology
Mentor: Richard Gardner, Pharmacology

Contact: emg96@uw.edu

Current research project: How Cells Regulate Cellular Trash: Uncovering a Novel Nuclear Quality Control Mechanism

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Every single cell produces proteins in order to perform cellular activities like replication, signaling, growth, etc. When proteins misfold they stop functioning correctly and can aggregate to other proteins, causing a mass accumulation of misfolded proteins. Cells that accumulate too many misfolded proteins will eventually die, which is why cells have mechanisms to help a misfolded protein refold or degrade. As part of my project I am uncovering an unknown mechanism that degrades misfolded proteins in the nucleus of yeast cells. This field of study is important because high quantities of misfolded proteins are associated with many neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and ALS.

Do you have an interesting story to share about your research experience?
During my first week researching I wanted to try growing cells in liquid media on my own. So I got the media ready, and put it in the incubator just like my mentor showed me. Except the next morning I could not see any cell growth because I had forgotten to add the cells! We had to reschedule the entire experiment because I had forgotten to add cells to the media. Fortunately my mentor was very forgiving of all of my mistakes because they happen all the time in the beginning.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
It never hurts to try doing research. You can always leave if you do not like it, and will have learned something about yourself, but you may just fall in love with it.

Shuchi Gaur

Shuchi Gaur
Majors: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Political Science
Mentor: Ramasamy Paulmurugan, Radiology

Contact: sgaur@uw.edu

Current research project: Engineering Gaussia Luciferase as a Novel Bio-Imaging Sensor for In Vitro and In Vivo Applications

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Gaussia luciferase (Gluc) is a commonly used bioluminescent protein that is gaining importance as a reporter gene in multiple research applications, many of which pertain to cancer. However, Gluc is a secreted reporter protein, which limits its usefulness in cell imaging, tracking of cell processes, and other applications. Increasing its intracellular retention would then remedy these limitations and open new avenues for various and more effective bio-imaging applications. I developed a modified Gluc protein that is retained intracellularly, and then also investigated and developed this modified protein’s use as a biomarker for endoplasmic reticulum stress, and as an apoptotic sensor that would allow its measurement in response to cell death caused by chemotherapeutic drugs. This modified Gluc protein that is retained intracellularly has so far proved useful in cell imaging, cell tracking, and other bio-imaging applications such as those already mentioned.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
Part of the reason I chose to attend UW is how supportive its environment is of undergrads taking part in research. I never had the opportunity to do any lab research in high school and knew it was something I wanted to try in college. The actual process of becoming involved was a complete mystery to me, but luckily I had a friend with a lot of experience who guided me through it and helped me find my first lab to join in spring quarter of my freshman year!

Louise Hansen

Louise Hansen

Major: Bioengineering
Mentor: Paul Yager, Bioengineering

Contact: llhansen@uw.edu

Current research project: Development of a Competitive Inhibition Assay for Implementation in Fluorescence-based Point-of-Care Diagnostics

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
My lab is working on improving the universal access to healthcare by engineering and creating point-of-care diagnostic devices that are capable of identifying diseases without any external power, trained personnel or clean water. These devices function like the common pregnancy test, and are essential for the timely and proper treatment of many infectious diseases, such as respiratory syncytial virus and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Our current research is focused on making faster diagnostics by replacing the current read-out method, which includes lateral flow strips, with a fluorescence-based assay that is capable of providing a quantitative readout.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I joined a lab at Fred Hutch while I was still in high school as a part of an internship program. Since then, I have worked in three different labs on a handful of projects ranging from neuroscience to stem cell research. Overall, research has allowed me to explore different fields to helped me figure out what subjects and career paths interest me, and it helped guide me to my college major. The phrase that has helped me get into labs is: “It is better to be interested and interesting.”

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
There are many different kinds of labs, covering a wide range of fields, so spend time finding a lab that fits your interests! Use research as a tool for deepening your understanding in a field that you enjoy.

Emily Huebner

Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Chemistry
Mentor: Roland Walter, Hematology-Oncology

Contact: huebnem@uw.edu

Current research project: A Phase 1/2 Trial of G-CSF, Cladribine, Cytarabine, and Dose-Escalated Mitoxantrone (G-CLAM) in Adults with Newly Diagnosed or Relapsed/Refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) or High-Risk Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I am studying the effects and safety of new chemotherapy regimens for acute myeloid leukemia through clinical trials with the goal of improving long term patient survival and replacing the current standard of therapy. Because the use of a set of criteria to determine trial eligibility restricts the amount of patients we can treat on the clinical trials (also called being on-protocol), we are also treating patient populations outside of the clinical trials (also called off-protocol) with the same treatment. The purpose of this is to assess whether the exclusion criteria introduces a potential bias into the results of the studies and whether the use of clinical trials accurately represents the population at large.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
Through this opportunity I have gained knowledge of medical terminology through the complex vocabulary in patient charts, discovered how to interpret hematopathology reports and cytogenetics test results, and gained a better understanding of the physiology and morphology of acute myeloid leukemia. This position gave me the opportunity to put into practice the material I’ve learned in classes, and lay the foundation for my future study of hematology-oncology that I will learn medical school.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Undergraduate research is the best opportunity to connect classroom learning to real world application. It equips students to start with an idea, come up with a method of research to study that idea, and how to interpret the results of their study.

Hannah Jolibois

Hannah Jolibois

 

Major: International Studies; Public Health
Mentor: Walter Andrews, Ottoman and Turkish Literature

Contact: hjolib@uw.edu

Current research project: Svoboda Diaries Project

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
My past research has been with the Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities, where I focused on corruption in American governance as a dynamic changing process. I’m currently transitioning to a new type of research and beginning as a transcriber with the Svoboda Diaries Project. I work on deciphering the Joseph Mathia Svoboda and transforming it into a digital publisher form. When I become more comfortable with the material I hope to use accounts of epidemics and plagues given in the diaries to look at the role public health played in state stability in Iraq and for the Ottoman empire in this time period.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I became involved in research with the Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities at the end of my freshman year. I applied to the program and was accepted. It was my first experience with independent research and a real challenge. I wanted to get involved with research because I was interested in learning techniques and ways of thinking about information that I had never encountered before. My hope was to take this back and apply what I learned to my own questions and interests.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be afraid to reach out! It may seem a bit awkward at first to contact people you’ve never met before, but many groups would love to welcome you into their lab or project.

Julia Joo


Major:
Biochemistry and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Mentor: Alan Herr, Pathology
Contact: jhyj@uw.edu

Current research project: Identifying Antimutator Genes in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae; Analyzing the Safety and Efficacy of Dimethyl Fumarate in Multiple Sclerosis

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
In the Herr Lab, we are trying to find genes in the yeast genome that prevent cell death from lethal levels of mutation. Mutation levels are hypothesized to be elevated to a certain level in cancers, causing gross abnormalities from the normal cell conditions, but not so much that the cell dies. We would like to understand what genes may be controlling this delicate balance.

Dimethyl fumarate is a medication for multiple sclerosis that has been released on the market relatively recently. At the Swedish Medical Center, we are trying to track its efficacy across various demographics of MS patients as well as examine any non-MS related risks associated with taking this medication for a prolonged period of time.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
After my first research internship in high school, I realized how much I loved being able to apply my textbook knowledge of biology to pressing questions at the forefront of the biomedical field, and decided to continue to be involved in research as an undergraduate student. At UW, I reached out to a cancer biologist I had admired since high school and was lucky enough to hear back! I’ve since explored further into the realm of cancer research and love learning more about the field every day.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
It is important to find a project and community that best resonates with you. Really take the time to understand a lab’s main purpose before sending out a CV. It may be time consuming, but finding the right fit is definitely worth it.

Dane Kawano

Dane Kawano
Major: Biochemistry; Biology
Minor: Marine Biology
Mentor: Merrill Hille, Biology

Contact: kawano13@uw.edu

Current research project: p120-Catenin’s Role in Mediating Cell Adhesion and Motility in Developing Zebrafish Embryos

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
During embryo development, the migration of cells drives the organization of the different tissue layers. p120-catenin has been identified as a protein that plays a fundamental role in this migration and cell motility in general. However, p120-catenin also functions with cadherin proteins to form adhesion junctions between cells. Essentially, the function of p120-catenin is antagonistic, either causing cells to stick together or move away. This dual functionality is determined by the phosphorylation state of p120-catenin at different amino acid residues. I’m interested in identifying which residues of p120-catenin, when phosphorylated or desphosphorlated, promote cell motility.

What is the most challenging and/or sometimes frustrating aspect of your undergraduate research experience? What did you learn from it?
The most challenging aspect of research is having to make it secondary to my school work. When an experiment doesn’t work as expected, all I want to do is be in lab to figure out how to fix it so I can get better results. However, school work has to come first, which means having to put an experiment on hold if, for example, I have a test coming up. What I’ve learned from this is how to best manage my time between research and school to not fall behind in either.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
For anyone wanting to get involved in undergraduate research, my biggest advice is to find a project that excites you. You want to be excited to go to lab every day, rather than going to lab because you need to.

Dianne Laboy Cintrón

Dianne Laboy Cintrón
Major:
Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Minor: Quantitative Sciences
Mentor: Takato Imaizumi, Biology; Akane Kubota, Biology

Contact: laboyd@uw.edu

Current research project: Molecular Analysis of Photoperiodic Flowering in Arabidopsis thaliana

 


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Molecular studies of plants’ seasonal flowering have helped improve crops in agriculture by modulating growth patterns in plants. Plants maximize their reproductive success by adjusting their flowering time according to photoperiods, i.e., changes in the length of daytime. Photoperiodic flowering is induced through the transcription of the CONSTANS (CO) gene. The purpose of this research is to gain a better understanding of the transcription of the CO gene and its effect on flowering time.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
During high school, I participated in Science Olympiad, where I was encouraged to apply for a summer internship at the University of Washington. From that moment my research journey began at the Imaizumi Lab the summer before my freshman year through the UW GenOM Project. The UW GenOM Project gave an introduction to the world of research giving me hands-on experience in a research lab. Additionally, it prepared me to present my research both locally and nationally.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would encourage any student that is interested in research to not be afraid to get involved. I know that when I started doing research I was not confident of my own skills, however, research skills are learned along the way with hard work.

Jonathan Lam

Jonathan Lam

Major:Neurobiology
Minor: Chemistry, Mathematics
Mentor: Martin Davas, Pathology

Contact: jylam@uw.edu

Current research project: Examining the Role of Acetylcholine on Long-Term Plasticity in the Ventral Striatum after Repeated Amphetamine Exposure

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Short-term increases in the neurotransmitter dopamine cause persistent changes in glutamate release that contributes to drug dependence. Our lab has shown in the past that within the dorsal striatum, a structure of the brain that plays a critical role in the reward pathway, acetylcholine encodes long lasting changes in glutamate release after repeated amphetamine exposure to raise dopamine levels. Currently, we are examining whether this same mechanism also occurs within the ventral striatum to gain a better understanding of how abnormal dopamine release can impact neural pathways in the brain.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I started with undergraduate research during Autumn Quarter of my freshman year by contacting various faculty through the URP database and managed to find an position in the Neurology department. Ever since I was in high school, I have been fascinated with the inner workings of the brain and undergraduate research provided me with an opportunity to explore my curiosity while learning firsthand from an expert in the field.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Keep an open mind when you look for a research position as you may find an interesting project in a field you never considered. Also, be persistent as not every professor has an open position in their lab so just keep looking if they say no!

Angel Lee

Angel Lee
Major:
Computer Engineering
Mentor: Eric Seibel, Mechanical Engineering; Sean Munson, Human Centered Design and Engineering

Contact: haeinlee@uw.edu

Current research project: Improving Oral Health Care by Combining Innovative Technology to Monitor Bacterial Growth

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Preliminary results have shown that with image data manipulation and analysis, bacterial growth trends can be monitored to indicate caries formation. Using the scanning fiber endoscope (a very thin camera) as the primary imaging device, my role is to write a program that implements this data manipulation and analysis automatically, diminishing the human aspect of this process and increasing the speed to giving a diagnosis.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most rewarding aspect from my experience was self-discovery. Coming into college, I struggled with knowing myself. Being a passive child in high school, I pursued what others recommended, never daring to explore what I want to do. Getting involved was, initially, an experiment. By getting involved with my lab, I learned what I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life – STEM research. I couldn’t have found that out in any other better way.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
There are many motivations and unique ways to get involved. However, the best resource to learn how you can benefit from research or how to join a research lab would probably be through the Undergraduate Research Program.

Yashmira Naidoo

Yashmira Naidoo

Major: Microbiology
Minor: Chemistry, Bioethics and Humanities
Mentor: Michael Lagunoff, Microbiology

Contact: ynaidoo@uw.edu

Current research project: KSHV Modulates Peroxisome Biogenesis

 

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
The Lagunoff lab studies how Kaposi’s Sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV) changes endothelial cells to cause Kaposi’s Sarcoma—the most common tumor among AIDS patients worldwide. I aim to establish a cellular mechanism by which KSHV induces an increase in peroxisomes. These organelles play an important role in lipid metabolism and likely in KSHV pathogenesis. I measure gene expression in KSHV-infected cells to establish which genes are involved in peroxisome upregulation. To determine which specific genes regulate this process, I knock out expression of key transcription factors and measure their effect on gene expression. Hopefully, these results will establish a key pathway involved in KSHV latency and establish a target for KS treatment.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
Beyond the practical skills that research in a wet lab has given me, my experience as an undergraduate researcher has really changed the way I think about “failure”. When experiments don’t work out, or when the numbers don’t add up, you’re forced to go back to the drawing board and think through the problem in a very sequential, ordered way. This experience has developed my persistence and critical thinking in a way that has been applicable to both my work as a scientist and a student.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Flexibility! From initially getting involved in research to eventually working on your own project, things don’t always go as planned. Being able to roll with the circumstances and make the best of them without getting discouraged is so valuable.

Callie Nissing

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Callie Nissing
Major: Spanish, Comparative History of Ideas (CHID)
Mentor: Tyler Fox, Human Centered Design & Engineering; Joel Ong, DXARTS; Rebecca Cummins,Photomedia; Phillip Thurtle, CHID

Contact: nissical@uw.edu

Current research project: Proprioceptive Thinking: A Kinetic Critique of Educational Movements

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I compared the cognitive sense of understanding to the proprioceptive one and examined how we could better our cognitive learning model within the current education system in order to promote social change. This included an artistic piece that was a GIF installation displayed in the Jacob Lawrence Gallery. I altered the movement of dancers and created a distorted GIF by using each dancer’s answer to a standardized test in order to reflect the distorted view of success our current standardized system has.

What is the most challenging and/or sometimes frustrating aspect of your undergraduate research experience? What did you learn from it?

The most challenging aspect from doing research was the initial developing of an idea. The entire process consisted of a lot of failure that would help me decide what I did not want to do, but overall that experience is what makes your end product feel so rewarding. Those moments are moments to grow and I think when you learn the most. Research constantly pushed me to attempt and conquer skills that I never thought I could.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Even if you don’t have an exact idea, have a starting place. There has to be SOMETHING that you find interesting and passionate about. Begin there and you might even find what you don’t find interesting which can be equally as helpful.

Aaron Bi Rosen

Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Chemistry, Applied Math
Mentor: Heather Mefford, Pediatrics; Candace Myers, Pediatrics

Contact: aaronbr@uw.edu

Current research project: Exome Guided Gene Discovery in Epileptic Encephalopathies

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Epileptic Encephalopathies (EEs) are severe, early onset seizure disorders caused by aberrant electrical activity in the brain, often accompanied by developmental delays. Deleterious changes to the protein coding regions of the genome (exome) have been implicated as causes of EEs and my research utilizes a variety of tools in molecular biology to detect and evaluate this variation.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most rewarding aspect of my experience is the opportunity to learn and grow as a researcher under the guidance of accomplished scientists. Joining the Mefford Lab gave me more than an opportunity to make meaningful contributions – it gave me a community of role models. Effort does not always pay off in success, but it always brings experiential knowledge and I am grateful for the privilege to pursue understanding in such an exciting field.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Take a leap of faith on an experience that sounds interesting to you and persevere! The UW is an enormous research university with countless opportunities for undergraduates.

Ryan Shean

Ryan Shean
Major:
Microbiology
Mentor: Bingni Brunton, Biology

Contact: rcs333@uw.edu

Current research project: Automatic Transcription of Hospital ECoG Patients

 

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I use automatic speech recognition techniques to find times of interest in clinical neuroscience data in order to better examine the neural basis of speech in the brain.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most rewarding part of my research is how I feel like I’m actually adding to the body of scientific knowledge. It allows me to take concepts and techniques I’ve learned in the classroom and actually apply them to real world questions. It is extremely exciting to add new knowledge and feel like an important part of the larger scientific community, both on campus, and globally.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Go ahead and try it out! It’s not a commitment for life or anything so see if you like it! Worst case, you don’t like it and move on, best case you fall in love like I did.

Liesl Strand

Liesl Strand
Major:
Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Mentor: Celeste Berg, Genome Sciences

Contact: liesl134@uw.edu

Current research project: Exploring the Role of a Novel Growth Factor in Drosophila Development

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Our lab studies developmental processes involving cell migration and proliferation using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism. In particular, we are interested in the formation of tubes, a process that shares a lot of homology with human development– we are, after all, giant tubes filled with vast networks of smaller tubes. My project focuses on investigating a gene called IDGF6 in order to determine its involvement in the formation of these tubes.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
Last year, I attended my first scientific meeting at Friday Harbor, WA and, despite feeling rather insignificant compared to people whose posters represented many years of work, my poster was chosen for the “people’s choice” award, which was incredibly exciting! These kinds of conferences have allowed me not only to become more comfortable with presenting research, but also to get feedback from a variety of people on my presentation skills and my research itself.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Find something that you are really interested in, don’t just get involved as a resume-builder or in a lab that just wants manual labor. There are a ton of great opportunities to do really cool and really exciting stuff at UW, don’t settle for less!

Guadalupe Tovar

Guadalupe Tovar
Major:
Astronomy
Minor: Physics
Mentor: Victoria Meadows, Astronomy; Jacob Lustig Yaeger, Astronomy

Contact: tovarg@uw.edu

Current research project: Mapping Exoplanets Using Time Variability

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
When you look at a map of the world you are able to point out the distinct land forms (continents), oceans, and poles. Similarly, my current research involves creating maps of planets outside of our solar system. We are constructing them by observing how the brightness of the planet changes as it rotates on its axis. Different surfaces reflect more or less light, and these maps will serve as a guide to understand the capabilities of future NASA telescopes.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
On a day to day basis, it is exciting when you get your code working or when you find a solution to the problem you’ve had for weeks because they are contributions to your field of study. However, one of the most rewarding aspects of research has been the multitude of opportunities that come with it. I have been able to travel to conferences to present my research, network with people across various disciplines, and apply what I am learning in class to a real project.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Ask questions! Talk to your professors, faculty, and graduate students in your department of interest to find out what projects they are involved in. A conversation can provide you information on how to get involved in a research project.

Jude Tunyi

Major: Biochemistry; Chemistry
Mentor: Jim Pfaendtner, Chemical Engineering

Contact: tunyia2@uw.edu

Current research project: Using Molecular Dynamics Simulations with PEG-coated Nanoparticles to Study Blood-Brain Barrier Diffusivity and Neuroinflammation

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I am currently working in the field of neurological nanoscience with molecular simulations. A primary investigator I work with is developing nanoparticles that can cross the blood-brain barrier and release drug particles to different parts of the brain to fight off brain tumors. I am working on the simulations that have to do with the diffusion of the drug particles using molecular dynamics techniques.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I began research in the summer of my freshman year through a program called Teach Lab where students were taught basic experimental lab techniques like PCR, transformations etc. After that, I became very interested in performing more independent research so I applied to my current lab through the LSAMP program. I interviewed and have been there ever since. I chose to do research so I could be able to take the scientific method out of the class and apply it to real life discovery and science.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would encourage them to seek out research through URP even if they are not sure what research they are interested in or how to even get started looking. Everyone considering research definitely make use of the resources available to them at URP.

Sahej Walia

Sahej Walia
Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Erica Young, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Contact: sahejwa@uw.edu

Current research project: Investigating Shunting Problems in Children with Hydrocephalus

 
 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Shunt failure is a common problem reported in young patients with hydrocephalus. The research lab I am involved in studies the inflammatory response to the shunt introduced in brains of children with excessive fluid build-up in the ventricular space of the brain. We quantify the response to the shunt through immunohistochemistry and computer-generated cell counts. This research will help us identify coatings that can reduce the inflammatory response, and thus decrease patient visits resulting from shunt failure.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
As is the case for a research study in any field, one needs to be able to commit a substantial amount of time and effort. Personally, I am amazed every day at how much knowledge I am able to pick up by actively engaging in research through asking questing of my lab mentors. My best advice is to actively seek to be a valuable member of any lab that you are interested in; your efforts will certainly make your experience incredibly rewarding!

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
As an undergraduate working in a lab, one must not be afraid to carve out as much time as possible so that one can actively seek the help of experienced members in order to build on one’s knowledge bank!

Roujia Wang


Major:
Bioengineering
Minor: Applied Mathematics
Mentor: Eric J. Seibel, Mechanical Engineering Department

Contact: roujiw@uw.edu

Current research project: Surface Imaging System for Needle Biopsy to Detect its Adequacy and Rapid Cancer Lesion through Milli-fluidic Device

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
My research mainly focuses on developing new imaging tools for cancer diagnosis based on milli-fluidic technology as well as Microscope with UV surface excitation developed by our collaborator. The designed a milli-fluidic device based imaging system will generate whole surface image of prostate biopsies as a rapid-on-site evaluation of biopsies for adequacy test and cancer lesion detection, targeting at prostate cancer diagnosis, while maintains the integrity of biopsies specimen for further molecular testing. By having this rapid evaluation to biopsy samples, it will minimize the number of biopsies taken from patients and hence reduce complications due to biopsy procurement. This design also have potential to be used for other cancer.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most rewarding aspect of my undergraduate research experience is being selected as Levinson Emerging Scholar for 2016-2017 academic year for my recent research project. This award not only provides me financial support to my education but also offer me additional funding to my project as well as my trip to the academic conference where I will be able present my research work.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would suggest the students to follow their hearts when choosing the research lab and project and value the opportunity. It will profoundly influence the undergraduate life in UW. Be passionate!

Nate Yazdani

Nate Yazdani
Major: Computer Science
Mentor: Ras Bodik, Computer Science & Engineering

Contact: nyazdani@uw.edu

Current research project: Static Schedule Synthesis for Layout Engines

 

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
In computer science, many problems boil down to static scheduling of computation or, in other words, planning ahead of time when to compute what. Until now, solving a static scheduling problem required either designing a custom algorithm or modeling the problem for a logic solver. Both approaches are susceptible to human misinterpretation of the problem, especially when nontrivial designs are used to gain performance. Since scheduling often requires time exponential to the size of the problem, such designs are a practical necessity. My work automates the creation of efficient logical models given only a natural programmatic specification of how to interpret a solution and includes an application to layout engines for data visualization.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
Besides the plain coolness of pushing the boundary of human knowledge, the community that I’ve found through research has been amazing. When you’re just getting started, it may feel like you’ll never know half as much as everyone around you, but those people are often more than willing to help guide you on your way. It’s a really satisfying feeling when you can read a paper that was impenetrable to you a year ago and understand every word of it.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Undergraduate research is what you make of it. Research advisors value genuine interest, willingness to learn, and drive a lot. Don’t be afraid to be wrong or admit you don’t know something; that’s how you learn.

Jion Yi

Major: International Studies
Mentor: Walter Andrews, Near Eastern Languages and Civilization

Contact: jiony432@uw.edu

Current research project: The Newbook Digital Texts

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Publishing and improving the access of historical primary texts as a bridgework between the humanities and data science

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
For me, finding my research project and thriving in it were incredibly easy, as if I was meant for it. This was all thanks to my mentor and the URP that introduced me to lots of resources and advice for my success in undergraduate research.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Go for it! The earlier you start your own research, the better it is. Give it a try before getting scared of what might happen.

Mollye Zahler

Mollye Zahler

Major: Biology
Minor: Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management
Mentor: Jennifer Nemhauser, Biology

Contact: mzahler@uw.edu

Current research project: Quantifying Leaf Phenotype in AFB2 Mutants

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Auxin is a small plant hormone that controls nearly every aspect of plant growth and development. A large family of proteins involved in auxin perception called Auxin-Signaling F-Boxes or AFBs is made up of 6 proteins (TIR1 and AFB1-5). These proteins are largely redundant but are thought to have specialized roles in determining plant phenotype. We aim to discover the specific roles of individual AFBs in order to identify target genes that can be used to engineer plant architecture. I am focusing on how leaf phenotype is determined by AFB2 function in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in research because I knew that our school offers a unique opportunity for undergraduates to get involved and there are so many interesting and groundbreaking things happening. I attended an info session held by the URP and learned that many undergraduates simply email several PIs (primary investigators) whose research sounds interesting to them and ask to get involved. At the beginning of sophomore year I emailed several labs and was welcomed into the Nemhauser lab.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t get too attached to one lab. Chances are you may not be able to join the first lab that interests you, but there are so many amazing opportunities for undergrad research on campus that you will be able to find a good fit.