Undergraduate Research Program

2017-18 Cohort

Erika Arias

Erika Arias
Majors: International Studies; Law, Societies, & Justice
Mentor: Walter Andrews, Near Eastern Languages and Civilization

Contact: ariase@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: The Newbook Digital Texts: Joseph Mathia Svoboda Diaries; Communism in Latin America: The US’ Fight Against Terror

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
For the Svoboda Diaries, I transcribe late 19 th -early 20 th century text from the
Ottoman Empire written by Joseph Svoboda. This text is later put into a digital
format and published online. I am also working on an individual research project
focused on U.S.-Argentine policies. Although still in the early stages, I look to
find out in what ways the U.S. policies played a vital role in the outcome of
Argentina’s Dirty War and how it has impacted current foreign relations in Latin
America today.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I knew I wanted to get involved in some kind of undergraduate research relating
to international studies, but I didn’t know where to start looking. The winter of
my sophomore year, I decided to search on the URP database and found a post for
the Svoboda Diaries. I got in contact with them and immediately got to work. I
became involved with my second undergraduate research project earlier this
school year. I love the work I do with the Svoboda Diaries, but I wanted to do
something that focused on foreign policy in Latin America. I contacted a few
professors in the Jackson School of International Studies and met with them to
discuss what I wanted in a project. Fortunately, they were all more than willing to
help me. I came up with my own question and have gotten great mentorship.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in
undergraduate research?

I would tell any student to not be afraid to reach out to faculty. In my experience,
I was intimidated to contact professors, but am glad I did. They have all been
more than happy to help me and welcomed me to do research with them. By
speaking to professors, you can talk through those core questions and find the
right project for you.

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.

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.

Catherine Chang

Catherine Chang

Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Sarah Keller, Chemistry

Contact: changcat@uw.edu

Current Project Title: Mapping Gibbs Phase Diagrams for Ternary Model Membrane Systems with Phosphatidylethanolamine Lipids

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) lipids are abundant in the plasma membrane. However, because they do not readily incorporate into model cell membranes (vesicles), scientists have yet to quantify some of their physical and chemical properties. In the Keller lab, I bridge this knowledge gap by mapping phase diagrams for systems containing PE lipids.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?

During my sophomore year, I expressed my research interest to one of my TAs, who suggested that I go check-out the Chemistry open house poster session. Once I got there, I wandered around, asked graduate students lots of questions about their research, and looked at many posters in hopes of finding something intriguing. Usually in general biology courses and textbooks, lipids are presented as boring little molecules with polar heads and two non-polar tails that make up the cell membrane and… that’s it. After listening to the Keller lab graduate students describe their research with lipids, I was absolutely blown-away. There is SO much more to lipids. I was so amazed and as I listened to the graduate students talk more about their research, I became convinced that I wanted to join the Keller lab to also do research on lipids. I asked Professor Keller if she had an open spot in her lab right then and there. I got involved in undergraduate research because I wanted to learn more about lipids: their chemical and physical properties i.e. line tension, rate of diffusion, Tmix, and curvature etc, and roles in cell signaling.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?

  1. Find a research lab that investigates something truly interesting to you. Once you find that lab, don’t be afraid to ask the PI (Principal Investigator) if they have an open spot in their research lab. Self-advocacy is key here (and if you need some pointers on how to craft the email to your future PI, the URP is here to help!). If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.
  2. Don’t be discouraged by rejection; keep trying because having mentorship from a caring PI, as supportive lab community/family, and the ability to customize your own education through a fulfilling research experience is invaluable. Also, if you’re trying to discern between medical school and graduate school, immersing yourself in research can help inform your decision.
  3. Trying to choose between a job and research? You don’t have to! Research can count as a work-study job too. There also are many generous scholarships to apply for including the Levinson scholarship, Mary Gates Scholarship etc. Some researchers who are funded by the NSF (National Science Foundation) have a separate fund to pay their undergraduate researchers only, so be sure to ask about this fund they might have just for you!
  4. The Undergraduate Research Program is here to help. If you’d like to hear more about how to get started with research, the URP offers info-sessions in MGH 171. They also provide drop-in advising to help guide you through your research finding and funding process.

Derek Chen

Derek Chen
Major:
Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Mentor: Jeanette Yang, Surgery

Contact: dchen8@uw.edu

Current research project: Diverticulitis Evaluation of Patient Burden, Utilization, and Trajectory

 

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Diverticulitis treatment, specifically, the optimal timing for elective (non-emergency) colectomy surgery to treat diverticulitis is currently unclear. This clinical research aims to improve the understanding of when physicians and patients decide to have surgery for diverticulitis.

 

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!

Leonard Chen

Leonard Chen

 

Major: Bioengineering
Mentor: Hao Kueh, Bioengineering

Contact: chen6leo@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Transcriptional Control of T Cell Activation to Enhance Immunotherapies

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Genetically engineered immune cells provide a promising approach to treat cancer. There are however unwanted side effects and obstacles that need to be addressed for its clinical availability. My project aims to better control immune cells by modulating the expression of immune cell transcription factors for more potent and safer immunotherapies.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved with undergraduate research after participating in a summer research internship after my freshman year. It was a way for me to apply my knowledge to clinically relevant problems. I continued pursuing undergraduate research during the school year with professors in multiple disciplines to continue obtaining new knowledge, skills, and connections. My current research experience came about after I contacted my current PI because I wanted to learn more about immunology, synthetic biology, and cancer therapeutics.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?

Go for it. It is a wonderful experience that teaches you many diverse skills, offers you an opportunity to learn in-depth about a field, and lets you connect with peers and individuals from all backgrounds. It really rounds out the undergraduate experience and takes your knowledge from the classroom to the real world.

Frank Cheng

Frank Cheng
Major: Business Administration
Mentor: Kaeleen Drummey, Biostatistics

Contact: yhfc@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Leadership and Strategic Thinking

 

 


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
It links leadership and strategic thinking for high performance impact.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in Autumn quarter of 2016 after seeing a posting, and wanted to gain experience in business research because I also want to pursue a PhD in the future.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
For every closed door, there’s another door open. Keep trying to get an opportunity even if at first it doesn’t seem successful.

Yong-Han Hank Cheng

Yong-Han Hank Cheng
Major:
Biochemistry, Biology (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental)
Mentor: Dan Doherty, Pediatrics

Contact: yhhc@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Using Next-Generation Sequencing to Evaluate the Segregation Pattern of Candidate Causal Variants for Joubert Syndrome

 


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
My research focuses on elucidating the genetic basis for a neurodevelopmental disorder known as Joubert syndrome (JS). Understanding the genes and genetic variants responsible for JS can allow us to improve prognostic and recurrence risk information, provide diagnostic, carrier and prenatal testing, and delineate the biological mechanisms of JS that will be targets of future precision therapies. Interestingly, the gene products associated with JS all localize to the primary cilium, a part of the cell that acts as the nexus for numerous important signalling pathways. Consequently, JS highlights the importance of the primary cilium in health and disease and understanding more about JS will gain us further insights into the functions of this ubiquitous organelle.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I found out about my research opportunity through the online database generously provided by the URP and started doing research during the first week of my freshman year, as soon as I moved to Washington from Wisconsin. I was motivated to do research because I wanted to contribute to science and knew that it would be a lot of fun!

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Undergraduate research is an awesome opportunity for students of all disciplines and backgrounds. To not get involved with research at the UW would be like going to a restaurant and only eating the appetizer. Do yourself a favor and go for the entree (and dessert) by getting involved with some sweet undergraduate research opportunities!

Bianca Cheung

Major: Business Administration (Finance); Biochemistry
Mentor: Maianna Dematteis, Surgery

Contact: cheungb@uw.edu

Current research project: Patient Reported Outcomes (PRO) and Quality Improvement

Daven Cocroft

Daven Cocroft
Majors: Physics; Astronomy; Psychology
Minors: Mathematics; Applied Mathematics
Mentor: Michael Tremmel, Astronomy

Contact: cocrod@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Star Formation in Low Metallicity Environments

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
For my research project I am studying a distant dwarf galaxy that is has a higher ‘hydrogen and helium to other element’ ratio in order to see if there is a difference in star formation based on the element richness(metallicity) and varying environments overall.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I first got started my freshman year through Astr 192 Pre-MAP, which is a course offered at UW designed to give students an idea of what it is like to be a graduate student iin the field of Astronomy. I have been going ever since.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
The best advice I have to offer is to research your interest and then proactively try to get involved. There are so many resources and opportunities to take advantage of, and all you have to do is be proactive.

Benedicte Diakubama

Benedicte DiakubamaMajor: Chemical Engineering
Mentor: Grant Williamson, Molecular Engineering

Contact: bmd23@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Data Science Tools to Formulate Personalized Fragrance.

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
The project I am working on is trying to answer a simple question can we personalized fragrance? Clearly we won’t just stop by answer that question but by finding a tool or prototype that can change the fragrance industry by allowing to personalize fragrance based on different factor such as: people personality, people demographic, and others.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I started research during summer 2016. I have emailed multiple professors, and one of them replied. The reason why I got involved in research is to explore my major a little more. Also to help me apply abstract theory I have been learning in class.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
My advice to student wanting to get involved in research is don’t stress to much about knowing exactly your interest. I didn’t know exactly what was my interest, so I looked at different research projects, and email those who were doing cool « stuff ». I took me three projects to figure what I think is my interest.

Diana Dinh

Diana Dinh
Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Chris Hague, Pharmacology

Contact: dianad6@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Identifying the Presence of a Specific AR Subtype in Colorectal Cancer Cells
Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are present throughout the body: heart, brain, colon. GPCRs, found only in eukaryotes, are seven-transmembrane proteins that can be activated when drugs, hormones, or neurotransmitters bind the receptors, making them attractive targets for drug development. One class of GPCRs are known as the adrenergic receptors (ARs). I intend on identifying the presence of the specific α1AR subtype in colorectal cancer cells and its role in the cancer cells because targeting a specific receptor in drug treatment is important in reducing the amount of side effects that cancer patients may experience.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research during my sophomore year by emailing professors within my field of interest my resume and cover letter. I wanted to get involved in research in the first place because I wanted to correlate what I was learning in class to how it is actually conducted in a lab setting.
What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would tell them that it is never too early or too late to become involved in undergraduate research. The goal is just to get involved with research when they are ready! Getting involved in research will help them gain skills, knowledge, and experience in their field of interest that will pave a path toward their career goal.

Sedona Ewbank

Sedona Ewbank
Majors: Neurobiology; Biochemistry
Mentor: Leo Pallanck, Genome Sciences

Contact: snewbank@uw.edu

Current research project title: Genetic Screen for Modifiers of GBA1 Pathogenicity in Drosophila Melanogaster Model of GBA1 Deficiency; Investigating Whether Agrp Neuronal Maintenance of Energy Homeostasis Involves Regulation of the Gut Microbiota in Mice

 

Translate your work so we can all understand its importance:
The most common genetic risk factor for Parkinson’s disease is mutations in the gene glucosidase, beta acid 1 (GBA1), but only about 30% of individuals with mutations in GBA1 develop Parkinson’s disease. My project in the Pallanck lab is aimed at identifying other genes which may influence or modify the disease-causing effects of mutations in GBA1 that may account for why some individuals with mutations in the GBA1 gene develop Parkinson’s disease while others do not. Imbalances in the bacterial populations residing in the human gastrointestinal tract, called the gut microbiota, are observed in a variety of gastrointestinal and energy homeostatic disorders. My project in the Palmiter lab will explore how these imbalances might develop by investigating whether energy homeostatic structures in the brain might have a role in regulating the composition of the gut microbiota to promote energy balance in the host.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got into research because I wanted to gain research experience to prepare for graduate school and for a career in academic research. I got involved with my first lab during my first year at UW by emailing faculty members whose research seemed interesting. I got involved with my second lab during my second year because a postdoctoral researcher (who is now my mentor) read an article I had written in the undergraduate neuroscience journal Grey Matters and was impressed by it enough to ask me to join the lab to work on a project with him. Also, this past summer, I applied for and got a summer internship position in which I worked at a research laboratory at a university in Lausanne, Switzerland.

 

What advice would you give to a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Go for it! Don’t worry about needing to be an expert to get involved. Your mentor won’t expect you to know everything about the subject they study; your most important qualification will be your interest in the discipline and your ability to reliably commit time to the project.

Elizabeth Glenski

Elizabeth GlenskiMajor: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Mentor: Scott Freeman, Biology

Contact: eglenski@uw.edu

Current Research Project: Effects of Active Learning Strategies and High-Structure Course Designs on Student Performance in College Science Courses

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
I work to determine whether certain types of course designs have a positive impact on achievement by underrepresented minority and economically disadvantaged students in STEM education. Currently I am helping to develop an NSF grant to work with the results of a meta-analysis on STEM education literature to compare the performance of at-risk students in a traditional lecture versus active learning setting supported by high-structure courseware.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research at the end of my sophomore year. I researched labs and emailed the professors of the labs I found interesting. One professor emailed me back, we got together, and I joined his lab group.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Look for research outside of your department! There are so many great opportunities all around UW, if you find a research opportunity outside of your department that looks like a good fit for you do not be afraid to get involved in it.

Lauren Goetsch

Lauren Goetsch
Major: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Minor: Applied Mathematics
Mentor: Eric Klavins, Electrical Engineering

Contact: lgoetsch@uw.edu

Current Project Title: Detection of Pollutants Using Saccharomyces cerevisiae

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
The overall goal of the project is to create an affordable, easily portable and readable sensor for detecting contaminants in drinking water. Affordable water testing could benefit people everywhere, including here in the United States in areas where lead contamination is an issue. Lead is just one of many pollutants we are working towards by finding different “switches” or promoters that turn on when the yeast are exposed to these contaminants. Currently, we are using RNA sequencing to identify these promoters. Once we find them, we can hook them up to visible outputs such as a variety of colors, all within the DNA of a single strain of yeast.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
As a freshman, I knew I needed research to boost my chances of getting into majors and internships. Around spring, I decided it was time, so I found interesting labs and emailed one primary investigator. I thought it was a long shot, but he replied back and I was given my own project. Ultimately, doing undergraduate research helped me decide to continue my career into the field of synthetic biology.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
It never hurts to try. If you’re underqualified, go for it. If you’re interested, go for it. When is the right time? Now!

Yoshi Goto

Yoshi Goto
Major: Bioengineering
Minor: Applied Mathematics
Mentor: Herbert Sauro, Bioengineering

Contact: yoshi876@uw.edu
Current Research Project Title: Optimization of Engineered Whole-Cell Metabolic Networks
Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
I am researching in the field of Systems Biology. Every living organism requires resources in order to grow. My project seeks to understand how the effect of altering resource usage by an organism affects its growth. I am simulating Escherichia coli in a computer as a series of metabolic reaction networks. By using a computational model that simulates major metabolic reactions involving carbon, a crucial resource for E. Coli growth, I can monitor how healthy the E. Coli is. In a simulation, I can alter any parameters, making it possible to change the resource cost of any of the reactions. This simulates genetic engineering of the E. Coli. Through this process and implementing optimization algorithms, I hope to find out what changes in the cell causes the most amount of effects in the system and potentially figure out the best set of changes which can optimize the growth of this cell. This kind of research can lead to new predictive options for genetic engineering experiments, in which you can “run a biological experiment” in a computer rather than in a biological lab.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
My first experience started from a research opportunity at UW as a high school student. As a high school sophomore, I emailed the Doty lab in the School of Forest Sciences about their phytoremediation research. By my senior year, I was able to run my own project on symbiotic plant microbes that degrade TNT. Starting sophomore year at UW, I joined the UW iGEM team, a student-led research competition team specializing in synthetic biology. Based on the experience there, I received a position in the Seelig synthetic biology lab in the CS department, and now switched the the Sauro lab in BioE. Over this past summer, I also interned at Arzeda, a Seattle-based biotech company that designs and creates synthetic proteins, used to create key chemicals in new ways.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Do research, do research, do research!!! UW is a world-class research institution — as undergraduate students we should definitely take advantage of the best thing UW has to offer! Starting the process to look for research is hard: you have to break through the fear and anxiety of rejections and what-ifs. But, UW and the URP offers lots of resources and help for you. It starts from finding out what you’re interested in, and then sending out a whole bunch of inquiries, taking advantage of resources, and not giving up. Even the process of looking for a research opportunity is great practice for the future — applying to graduate school, medical school, or a job. And, once you are in a research group, pat yourself on the back: you are one of the few in the world specializing in that group’s topic! You will definitely learn a lot, gain connections, and prepare yourself for the future.

Jasmine Graham

Jasmine Graham

Major:
Bioengineering
Mentor: Eric Seibel, Mechanical Engineering

Contact: jygraham@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Optical Measurement of Acidification In Vitro to Predict Dental Caries
Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
What if your dentist could catch cavities before they formed? My project will predict which teeth areas are at risk for cavities, also known as caries, by measuring the acid that destroys teeth and causes cavities. An accurate device that predicts caries risk will enable dentists to apply targeted preventive therapy to reduce caries.
When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in research during a summer internship before I entered UW, and I found it really interesting to be exploring things that nobody had done before. Research allows me to pursue my own interests as well as contribute to human knowledge.
What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Start exploring your interests by looking up faculty at the UW! Check out what their research interests are and if they sound appealing to you. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help or information, and talk to students and faculty about their experiences with research.

Claire Grant

Claire Grant
Major: Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology
Mentor: Camilla Crifò, Biology

Contact: claireag@uw.edu

Current Project Title: Paleoecological Research: Reconstructing past vegetation to predict how our modern ecosystem will respond to climate change

 


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
My lab uses microfossils called phytoliths to reconstruct the vegetation of the past (was it woody forest, an open grassland or something else?). Phytoliths are solidified bodies of silica that are both passively and actively accumulated in plants. Our focus is on phytoliths from a time period called the middle Miocene which was the most recent major global warming event. We hope that with more information about how the vegetation of the past changed during warming events, we can better predict how our fauna and flora will respond to our current warming planet.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
It was near the end of my freshman year I realized teaching was my passion. After volunteering/ working as an overnight summer camp counselor, tutor, pipeline project volunteer, and eventually orientation leader I discovered college aged students were my favorite age group to work with. Along the way I also found myself engrossed in my upper level biology electives and reaffirmed that I never wanted to stop learning about biology. With graduate school a realistic next step in achieving my goals, I met with one of my favorite TA’s from the biology series who gave me the advice that I should experiment with working in a lab before I apply to graduate programs so I can be sure of what I do and do not like. I used the UW research database and from there found a few positions that I was interested in and started applying.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Finding a lab that is asking questions that you are curious about and excited to contribute to is crucial. Less obvious is finding a lab that is a good fit for you as a person. Your lab mentors are the people who will be supporting you, pushing you and helping you grow as a person. They are also the people who make working in lab fun. I’ve met some incredible friends, mentors, and supporters through my lab. Lastly, take the time to reflect on how you are feeling about your research after participating in it for a quarter or so. Being able to be honest with yourself and how interested you are in what you’re doing can be hard, but it has been crucial for me in being able to find something I am truly passionate about.

Casey Grosso

Casey Grosso
Major: Art History
Mentor: Rebecca Cummins, Photomedia

Contact: grossc2@uw.edu

Current Project Title: CSE Animation Capstone

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
I work with a team of interdisciplinary students and staff to produce an original short film via traditional and experimental computer animation techniques.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I started doing research early on. As an art history student, many 300-level courses require 10 to 20 page research papers. I made the jump from art history (reading and writing papers) to art (reading and producing art) the summer after my freshman year when I participated in the Summer institute for the Arts and Humanities. I liked doing research in the arts because I found a public platform that I could contribute to much quicker. My research papers never really escaped the classroom.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
For students who are considering getting involved in undergraduate research: you are probably already doing research. Whether you study elections of yesteryear, stalk every national park in Washington on Instagram, or paint in your free time – you are thinking creatively and making discoveries. The fun part about a research institution is that you get to participate in formal research with peers and faculty. This is cool because you can keep doing what you’re doing and turn it into something really meaningful, or you can try something completely new, but either way you’re going to learn a lot of cool stuff that you never could have learned working in a vacuum.

Rohan Hiatt

Rohan Hiatt
Majors: Mathematics; English
Mentor: Amos Turchet, Mathematics

Contact: rohankh@uw.edu

Current Research Project Titles: Uniformity of Solutions to Diophantine Equations; Intersectional Marxism in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
1) Given an equation in two variables with integer coefficients, how many solutions can you find where both values of the variables are rational numbers? This apparently easy question turned out to be very deep and very interesting from the point of view of Number Theory and Algebraic Geometry. In this project we are investigating the behavior of such solutions set for special equations representing so called, higher genus curves (or curves with multiple “holes”, a representative example is a donut). We want to gather some statistics on the size of the solutions set in an attempt to address an important open problem on the uniformity of these sizes.

2) Marxism has been a prevalent theoretical theme in many works of literature, particularly coming out of the 20th Century and into the modern age. Analyzing works of literature through an intersectional Marxist lens, i.e. one that concentrates specifically on marginalized groups, assists in the formation of conclusions related to implementing theory throughout everyday life. Ghosh’s novel acts as a receptacle for observing the (oftentimes beneficial) consequences of interpreting the world through Marxism, and may lead to specialized solutions for the survival of oppressed bodies in our highly politicized world.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I first started getting involved in undergraduate research during Autumn quarter of my sophomore year. One of my professors was highly influential in encouraging me to take charge of my education, and explore fascinating disciplinary questions related to my fields. Through his encouragement, and the subsequent support of my peers, I was able to develop a passion for curious inquiry which sparked my desire to pursue educational development outside of my classes.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
The biggest piece of advice I would provide to a student who is considering undergraduate research would be to stay persistent and develop your passions. Research is often a daunting institution to initially get involved in, and there are many opportunities for one to become discouraged. However, by maintaining your own curiosity and actively seeking out opportunities (especially with the help of programs like the URP!), you will absolutely find what you are looking for. Exploring various disciplines and finding a topic or question you feel strongly about is important, as well. I find that the more you care about the research that intrigues you, the easier it will be to find those who feel similarly. And don’t be afraid of your passions changing! Oftentimes, what you perceive as your initial interests become shaped by your experiences, and you may find yourself in a completely different place in the end, which is fine!

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

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.

Hyeon-Jin Kim

Hyeon-Jin Kim
Majors: Applied Computational Mathematical Science; Biological and Life Sciences, Biochemistry, Chemistry
Mentor: Hao Yuan Kueh, Bioengineering

Contact: khj3017@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Development of High Resolution Epigenetic Profiling for the Study of Hematopoiesis

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Using computational analysis and super-resolution biological imaging techniques, I am trying to better understand how epigenetic modifications control cell fate decisions in hematopoietic stem cells.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I started doing undergraduate research spring quarter of my freshman year. My CHEM 145 professor was looking for undergraduate researchers to join so I reached out and he offered me a position in his lab. Initially, I wanted to get involved in research because I wanted to know what it was about. Little did I know, I found my calling in research!

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Professors want undergraduate students to work for them for free! They look for students who are willing to learn so don’t hesitate to reach out to them if you find their research interesting!

Melissa Krook

Melissa Krook
Major: Psychology
Minor: English
Mentor: Peter Vitaliano, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Contact: mkrook@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Disaster perception, preparedness and response among U.S. older adults

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
In today’s climate, natural disasters are rising in prevalence. Older adults aged 60+ are among our most vulnerable populations. However, research detailing how older adults perceive and respond to disasters is inconsistent. I am conducting a literature review to better understand how older adults perceive, prepare for and respond to disasters, with a focus on earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest. My goal is to increase recognition of this important population among the general public and to educate emergency agencies and organizations that service older adults about how to support them.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I decided to pursue psychology because I want to study the psychological effects of aging in older adults. My future plans include a graduate degree in geropsychology. However, it was not until I discovered the Scan|Design Innovations in Pain Summer Research Program that I began to define my research interests. This program could not have been a better introductory research experience for me. I was matched with a fantastic research mentor who guided me through the process to design and implement my own project. Apart from practical research experience, I had the opportunity to initiate and develop relationships with other student researchers and professors, which reinforced my decision to pursue research as a career and led me to my current research project.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Go for it! There are MANY resources available to you at the UW. Research occurs in a large variety of disciplines and there are always more questions to be answered. Utilize these! A good place to start is with people you already know. Do you know anyone who works in research? Is one of your professors particularly inspiring? In general, people are excited to talk about their work. Engaging these people may lead you toward a research opportunity directly or help you to generate research questions of your own. Part of the process is trying things you may not have considered before. Embracing this process can be a useful tool to refine your education and career goals.

Dianne Laboy Cintrón

Dianne Laboy Cintron


Major:
Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Minor: Quantitative Sciences
Mentor: Heather Mefford, Pediatrics

Contact: laboyd@uw.edu

Current research project: Functional Analysis of an ARPC4 Variant Associated with Microcephaly

 


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance

I am part of the Medford Lab where we study the genetic causes of neurological and pediatric disorders. I use genomic tools to find mutations that cause disease. As well as biological assays to comprehend the molecular mechanisms that lead to disease.

 

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 internships 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.

 

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

Annamarie Lahti

Annamarie Lahti
Majors: Neurobiology; Biochemistry
Minor: Bioethics

Mentor: Chet Moritz, Rehabilitation Medicine: Physical Therapy

Contact: acl97@uw.edu

Current Research Project: Optogenetic Stimulation for Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Optogenetics is an area of research where a viral vector is used to insert a gene that will produce a light sensitive protein in the host cell. A blue LED implant is used to stimulate the neurons that express the light-gated cation channel. We hope to develop a stimulation parameter that will lead to long-term functional improvements.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I knew I wanted to get involved with research before I got to UW and I was excited to be able to get started my freshman year. I did not know that I would end up in a lab that was studying ways to improve limb function after spinal cord injuries when I started looking for positions. All I knew was that I was interested in what happens when the nervous system doesn’t function properly as a result of disease or injury and that I was beyond excited to work in a lab on campus.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be afraid to get started! It is never too early to get involved with research. I would also recommend working with the URP because the staff is so nice and can help you get started when you are not sure how to approach finding a lab. Undergraduate research has been on of the best experiences I have had!

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: Development of a Client-aiding Tool for At-home Performed Oral Therapies

 

 

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.

Vera Liao

Vera Liao
Majors: Psychology; Communication
Mentors: Randal Beam, Communication; Valerie Manusov, Communication
Contact: ljzj@uw.edu

Current project title: Online Rumoring, Misinformation and Disinformation during Crisis Events; Social Medias on Young People’s Relationship Development
Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
The research aims to understand how online rumors change over time, the role that journalists and other “professional” media play in spreading and correcting rumors and how intentional disinformation is spread during crisis events.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I started doing research when I was selected to participate in a study abroad program doing comparative literature and research in Spain when I was a sophomore. I didn’t know what research was at the beginning, but that rewarding experience improved my understanding of research and further expanded my knowledge in the field of Communication. Therefore, after that program, I knew it was a great fit of my interests and it led me to the pathway of doing research.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would strongly encourage students to pursue their interests in research, because I believe being involved in research would benefit undergraduate students not only in their academic success but also in their personal development. Undergraduate research is so important because it provides students a different perspective and enhances their worldview by providing a more objective and measurable way of understanding. Also, having the ability to see the world’s reality will definitely nourish their mental development because it helps them make what is abstract into concrete and feasible to access. Therefore, even if students decide not to pursue research as a career, they will still gain the skills of being critical and detail orientated.

Nelson Liu

Nelson Liu
Majors: Linguistics, Statistics, Computer Science
Mentor: Noah Smith, Computer Science and Engineering

Contact: nfliu@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Examining the Ability of Recurrent Neural Networks to Handle Long Range Dependencies

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
I work on natural language processing (NLP), a subfield of artificial intelligence that seeks to build algorithms for processing and understanding text data. In recent years, neural network based architectures, especially those based on recurrent neural networks (RNNs), have created new state of the art results on a variety of tasks in the field. Despite their ubiquity in state of the art NLP models, both the source of the RNN’s impressive performance and its limitations are not well understood. As a result, many neural NLP models are difficult to interpret since researchers often use RNNs as black box text encoders. Towards the goal of opening the black box, I’m working on a fundamental question: Exactly how much of the past can RNNs remember? A better understanding of the shortcomings of this basic building block is critical, and will enable the research community to better design more efficient variants and overcome current RNN limitations, leading to more accurate neural NLP models.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I started working on natural language processing with Professor Noah Smith from the onset of my first quarter at UW. I’ve always been interested in language, and I like computers, so I found natural language processing quite interesting.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know things or that you are wrong — it’s a valuable part of the learning experience.

Andrew Luo

Andrew Luo
Majors: Computer Science; Bioengineering
Mentor: Shwetak Patel, Computer Science and Engineering

Contact: luoa@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Automatic Characterization of User Errors in Spirometry

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Spirometry is among the most commonly used and important tests of lung function available in a primary care setting. During spirometry, patient’s rapidly exhale the contents of their lungs into a spirometer. Doctor’s can then examine the resulting Volume exhaled vs. Time and Flow vs. Volume curves to understand the patient’s lung health better. However, spirometry can be difficult to perform and user errors can be common. This is an issue because it diminishes the clinical usefulness of a test; coughing for example can mess up the overall shape of the curve significantly which interferes with diagnosis. Automatically detecting these errors using machine learning can open up many possibilities to increase the availability of spirometry. For example, now the need for a professional to proctor a spirometry maneuver and correct patient errors is less needed if the spirometer itself can provide feedback on errors the user is performing.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research working in a Professor Ying Zheng’s bioengineering lab my freshman year. I knew I wanted to do research coming to college so I applied to pretty much every professor that had something that interested me! I always thought research was cool since the entire point was pushing the boundaries of human knowledge. As my interests evolved I applied to other labs and got in my current area. What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Research is what you make of it. Professors and mentors appreciate real interest and learning. Therefore, find something you are interested in and try to stick with it for a while. Some times you might get to a point where you have no idea how to proceed so it’s important to remember that it’s ok to admit you’re wrong and ask for help.

Nihar Mahajan

Nihar MahajanMajor: Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology; Biochemistry
Mentor: Thomas Hawn, Medicine: Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Contact: niharm@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Investigating the Role of NLRP3 in Inflammasome Activation of Human Macrophages

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
I am currently testing different gene variants of the NLRP3 to see if a gene of interest plays a role in regulating inflammasome activity. Finding a gene that would decrease inflammation could be applied to decreasing deleterious symptoms caused by Cystic Fibrosis.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in research because I wanted to stop confining myself to the classroom alone, and wanted to experience applying what I learn to real life issues. I also wanted to gain experience working in a medical related job so I can learn more about the field and better narrow my future professional options. I started my first research project in Winter quarter of Freshman year, but joined my current lab at the beginning of Sophomore Year. Before that I spent lots of time trying out different types of research, it takes time till you find the right job!

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would recommend starting early, and also never give up during the application process! In my freshman year I applied to dozens of positions only to hear that they were already filled, or my qualifications weren’t enough. However, if you keep emailing, eventually you will land on a job that will suit you. I haven’t met anyone yet who has been applying consistently for years and never gotten a research job that they were interested in.

Meena Meyyappan

Meena MeyyappanMajor: Neurobiology
Mentor: Jennifer Rabbitts, Pain Medicine

Contact: alagumee@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Assessment of Pain Extent in a Pediatric Population with Pain

 

 

Translate your work so we can all understand its importance:
Recent studies have shown that pain extent (or widespreadedness of pain) is an important indicator of chronic pain. The Widespread Pain Index is a measure to assess pain extent that has been validated in adults before. This purpose of this study is the validate the psychometric properties of the WPI measure in assessing chronic pain in a pediatric population.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I started research as a sophomore in winter quarter working for a psychology lab that studied the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder using different technology. After working in this lab for two quarters I did a summer intensive undergraduate research program through the UW. After this program I fell in love with my summer lab and decided to continue doing research here. I initially started doing research because I felt it was a resource that UW offered me that I should take advantage of and try. I figured if I didn’t like it, I could always stop. I ended up loving the application of knowledge and community of researchers I worked alongside.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
As an undergraduate, it’s easy to feel like you are not a member of your research group and that it is not your place to speak up or ask questions but I highly encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and do exactly that. Slowly you will start to gain the trust of other research members and your curiosity will shine through. This will open up a door of many more possibilities for you to do more independent research and be involved in publications and presentations.

Eleanor Mount

Eleanor Mount
Majors: Political Science; Law, Societies, and Justice
Mentor: Jackie Kerr, Center for Global Security Research

Contact: emount@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Creating International Cyberweapon Regulations

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Currently, there are international regulations outlining acceptable uses of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, but no framework exists regarding cyber weapons. This is concerning for international security, public safety, and critical infrastructure. I am examining best practices from existing international law to see what lessons can be applied to an international regulation in cyberspace.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I started with undergraduate research after I was accepted into the Political Science major and decided to pursue the Advanced Certificate in Political Studies and Research. One of the certificate requirements is presenting a course research paper at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Spring. I thought it was a great opportunity to communicate my work in political science to the greater community. I liked the process so much I decided to pursue full-time research positions that summer! I worked with the Center for Global Security Research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), where I completed a project titled “Protecting Information for the Future: A Post-Quantum World” outlining the legal implications of a powerful quantum computer that could break the cryptography currently used in online interactions. This year, I am continuing independent research on cybersecurity with an Honors Thesis in the Political Science Honors Program.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try–so just try something! Research is the one defining part of my undergraduate experience that showed me how to apply my academic interests directly to my future career, and let me work on things I feel are important. Don’t we all want that?

Noushyar Panahpour Eslami

Noushyar Panahpour Eslami
Major: Chemistry (ACS-certified)
Mentor: Brandi Cossairt, Chemistry

Contact: npe7@uw.edu

Current Project Title: Cyclic Voltammetry as a Method to Evaluate Charge Transfer Between Quantum Dot Donors and Small Molecule Acceptors

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Currently what I’m researching is the ability evaluate how effective CdSe quantum dots are based off their ability to transfer electrons. This is a process that could help determine which catalysts to apply to CdSe in order to allow for greater the best result in photocatalysis, which is basically light-driven catalysis.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I became involved in undergraduate research the summer following my freshman year. I did so by sending an E-mail to Prof. Cossairt in the chemistry department in the hopes that she’d give me a chance. I got involved because I wanted to explore chemistry, to understand how it was implemented in research and to see what everything I learned in class meant when applied to real issues.

 

What advice would give a student who is considering getting involved in research?
I would say that the most important thing is not so much figuring out what exactly the right path is, or where exactly to start, the important thing is to just start. Go to an information session, meet with an adviser, E-mail a professor. The best thing you can do is to just give it a shot and take a step in the right direction.

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.

Thao Tang

Thao Tang
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Global Health
Mentor: Mitchell Lee, Pathology

Contact: thaot96@uw.edu

Current research project: Identifying genetic pathways involved in suppressions of elevated mutations in Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
We aim to find genetic pathways in the yeast genome that rescues the cell from lethal mutation level. In prokaryotes, eukaryotic pathogens and cancer, mutation level is elevated, yet not to the level of lethality. Understanding the pathways that elude lethality will give us insights into cancer evolution and novel therapeutic strategies.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I have joined the Kaeberlein/Herr labs through an undergraduate research program at the former college I transferred from since summer 2015. Initially I wanted to experience first hand the lab environment and acquire technical skills. Then I got intrigued by the underlying mechanisms in cancer and excited to learn more about them every day.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Do it! There is an enormous number of learning opportunities out there. When you choose the lab you are interested in, be committed, invest your time and effort in the project. Dont worry about asking lots of questions. It’s nice to show you care.

Phuong Van

Phuong Van
Major:
Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Mentor: Eleanor Chen, Pathology

Contact: vanp2@uw.edu
Current Project Title: Identifying Potential Stem Cell Populations in Rhabdomyosarcoma
 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a pediatric soft tissue sarcoma, is predominantly diagnosed in children and adolescents. The survival outcome for patients with metastasis and disease relapse remains poor. It is thought that cancer stem cells are the cancer cell population that promotes cancer progression by giving rise to tumor relapse and metastasis. PAX7 is one of several gene candidates that could serve as a marker of the CSCs in RMS. PAX7 plays an important role in regulating the function of muscle stem cells to orchestrate proper muscle regeneration post-injury. As RMS arises from abnormal muscle development, we hypothesize that abnormal activity of PAX7 in the CSCs likely plays a role in promoting RMS disease progression. My project is to determine whether PAX7 can serve as a marker of CSCs in RMS and whether PAX7 plays a role in self-renewal of RMS.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I was taking an introductory biology course when I was exposed to a revolutionary genome called CRISPR/Cas9, which was able to target DNA in a specific and efficient manner. I was fascinated by the technology and wanted to able to learn more about it. In addition, I was always particularly interested in cancer and how it progresses molecularly because there has yet to be a cure for this complex disease. These interests and my curiosity in how research is conducted and how experiments are formed led me to joining research.

 

What advice would give a student who is considering getting involved in research?
Do it now! When it comes to getting involved, find an interest that fascinates you and try to find professors or lab opportunities that matches it. During the application process, do not give up if it becomes hard because you will eventually be in a lab that will be the perfect fit for yourself. Once in lab, be sure to absorb everything in, work hard, learn, and have fun!

Qiaosi (Chelsea) Wang

Qiaosi (Chelsea) Wang
Majors: Informatics, Psychology

Mentor: Sean Munson, Human-Centered Design and Engineering

Contact: wqs@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Supporting people’s healthy eating goal by leveraging photo-based food diaries in collaboration with health experts

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Food tracking has gained popularity among general public as various commercially available food-tracking applications such as MyFitnessPal, FatSecret, become more prevalent. However, the cumbersome data input process and huge amount of nutritional data casted huge burdens on users in various stages of tracking. We designed and implemented Foodprint, a photo-based food tracking application to alleviate the burden of inputting detailed nutritional information during food tracking and also improved the efficiency of the food data review process, both individually and with health professionals, to help people achieve their healthy eating goal.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I began my research journey as a sophomore in psychology major. I started out volunteering at the Center of Health and Risky Behaviors(CSHRB) lab here at UW. During my time there, I did an individual project on sexual revictimization and presented it at the 2016 undergraduate research symposium. At the symposium I got to see the influence of my research on the audience and thus determined to continue down the research path with the belief that research has the power to enhance people’s lives, especially people’s health and well-being. Later I got interested in technology and got accepted into the informatics program at UW as a junior. The prevalence of technology made me realized that the combination of research and technology can make greater positive impact on people’s lives. I reached out to professors at the information school and human-centered design and engineering asking for research opportunities in leveraging technology for people’s health and well-being. At the end I landed on my current project which I enjoyed very much and have been working on since June 2017.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Research is a really exciting process because you get the chance to pursue questions that you are interested in, work with amazing graduate students and faculties, and put what you learned in class into practice. If you are interested in research don’t hesitate to reach out to faculties at UW. I benefit from my conversations with professors and graduate students all the time, so be brave and reach out to them! They are all amazing persons to talk to and even work with.

Jion Yi

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

Contact: jiony432@uw.edu

Current Research Project: The Newbook Digital Text: Joseph Mathia Svoboda Diaries Project

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Newbook Digital Texts is a scholarly publishing cooperative providing access to original sources unsuited to traditional print publication. It is a team research effort combining the work of experienced professionals, skilled graduate students, and a cohort of talented and committed undergraduate research interns.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I have been involved in Newbook since the Summer before my freshman year at UW. I found this research project from the Undergraduate Research Program Database. I have always known that I wanted undergraduate research as an integral part of my college experience and the Newbook perfectly fit the description of an ideal research project in my mind.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Just go for it! You may have many concerns about starting a research project– you may think it will be too time consuming or you are not capable of it. But once you get started, you’ll realize that it will be worth your time and effort. You will gain many valuable experiences along the way.

Jie Yin

Jie Yin
Majors: Biochemistry; Microbiology
Minor: Chemistry
Mentor: Michael Lagunoff, Microbiology

Contact: jieyin31@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Hypoxia-Induced Factors in Latent Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Infection of Human Endothelial Cells

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the etiological agent of Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), a highly vascularized tumor predominantly made up of spindle cells, which are of endothelial origin. KS, the most common tumor of AIDS patients, appears as lesions on the skin or on the mucosal surfaces but it can become life threatening once it spreads to the liver, lungs, or digestive tract. Interestingly, KSHV infections of spindle cells are predominantly latent, rendering them impervious to current antiviral drug treatments that inhibit lytic replication. I am interested in studying how KSHV alters endothelial cells’ metabolism to maintain viral latency. I aim to evaluate the role of hypoxia-induced factors in pro-survival changes to cellular metabolism during latent KSHV infection. I hope these insights will aid in the future efforts to develop antiviral drugs that inhibit viral latency by targeting cellular metabolism.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I have been involved in research since the first quarter of my sophomore year. I discovered this wonderful opportunity to study viral metabolism through an advertisement email from the biology department email list. I first became interested in cancer research after I shadowed a student researcher at the University of Nevada the summer before I started attending the UW. After attending a biochemistry seminar at the UW, I was fascinated by the role of metabolism in cancer biology. I was eager to get involved in undergraduate research because I would like to answer my own inquiry in cancer metabolism. I was also looking for a community of scientists that I could turn to for support. In the future, I intend to become an oncologist. Getting involved in cancer research has helped me assess the role or research in my future career as a physician.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would suggest students to look for research opportunities as soon as possible because many labs on campus are looking for students who are able to work on a project for at least one year or longer. I would also encourage students not to be afraid to ask questions even though it could sometimes be intimidating in front of PIs, post-docs and graduate students because research itself is a process of discovery and learning. I would also encourage students to clarify their roles in the lab with the PIs before they start because some labs only need lab assistants but not student researchers. It would be difficult for students to get their own project so it is crucial for students to clarify their roles with the PIs.

Bryan Yue

Bryan Yue
Majors: Computer Science; Biochemistry
Mentor: Cecilia Lee, Ophthalmology

Contact: byue@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Molecular Evaluation of Post-surgical Endophthalmitis

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Post-surgical endophthalmitis is one of the most severe complications following any ocular procedure. It occurs in approximately 0.1 to 0.2% of the time following cataract surgery. I utilized quantitative polymerase chain reaction to determine the amount of viral/bacteria DNA, analyzed culture reports, and performed whole genome sequencing to assess the underlying cause of endopthalmitis and severity of the infection.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in my junior year because I was curious about learning more about Ophthalmology and ways to assess the patient’s health. It was satisfying and challenging to combine diverse pieces of information to make informed decisions. I learned of this opportunity through the undergraduate research database, which has plenty of opportunities.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would advise students to get out there as soon as possible. The sooner you start research, the more time you will have for perfecting your craft and fine-tuning your areas of interest. Research is about exploring your interests too!

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.

Joey Zemke

Joey Zemke
Major: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Mentor: Jennifer Nemhauser, Biology

Contact: jzemke@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title: Phytochrome B’s Impact on Resource Allocation in Brassica rapa

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance- Climate change poses a significant challenge to plant adaptation and food security. Fossil fuel burning, industrialized food production, and deforestation have increased the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, resulting in global warming. This poses a great risk for global food security. Advances in genetic engineering can create higher crop yield and modify the plant’s environmental response. To modify the plant’s response to environmental input for example, it is first necessary to understand the biological mechanisms of the processes we wish to adjust. Specifically, we want to explore the ways plants allocate their resources in response to a changing environment. Plants assess the quantity and quality of light with a suite of photoreceptors, altering their growth and development in response to light conditions. This allows the plants to orient themselves in the most photosynthetically efficient light possible. Phytochromes are a class of photoreceptors. Previous work has demonstrated phyB is involved not only in shade avoidance, but is also a critical component of efficient resource allocation. We wish to elucidate the biological mechanisms behind phytochrome B in order to engineer more efficient crops in the future.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research? I got involved in undergraduate research my sophomore year because I wanted to be more involved in campus life. I wanted to be a more active member of the scientific community, and get real life research experience. I looked up different Biology professors at UW and emailed many that I felt like their research resonated with me. I soon got settled into the Nemhauser Lab and have been there since!

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research? I would say to be ready to put yourself out there! Talk with the professors around you, and email individuals who are conducting research that is of interest to you! Be prepared to learn lots and don’t be afraid of asking questions!