Undergraduate Research Program

2018-19 Cohort

Valeria Aizen

Version 3
Major:
Biology (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental)
Mentor: Daniel Promislow, Pathology; David Tank, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, University of Idaho

Contact: valera3@uw.edu

Current research project: Promislow Lab- ND2 Project

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
I work with fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) to understand how “genetic modifiers”, which include things like diet, temperature, and the cellular environment, interact with genes associated with Alzheimer’s and Leigh’s disease to lead to a greater or lesser predisposition of developing the disease with age. Currently, I’m in the middle of genotyping and attempting to find single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which are a single mutation in a sequence within one allele of a gene, to figure out how these SNPs are associated with varying degrees of expression of the diseased phenotype, and exactly why on the molecular level.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I became involved in undergraduate research at UW the fall of my sophomore year, although I had been involved in research in high school studying the evolutionary history of a species of Galapagos daisy (Scalesia). My freshman year, I attended the Undergraduate Research Symposium where I presented my research with Scalesia and consequently met and talked to people doing research in fields I was really excited and passionate about. Mostly, I wanted to do research because I wanted to see how the things I was passionate about in class and from my readings actually applied to real world questions and how I could find connections between molecular biology, genetics, and other subjects to ask new questions and find ways to answer them. But I also wanted to gain experience working in a lab to understand how research works at every stage of the process, from posing a question, to developing a project, to presenting your results. As such, I reached out to the professors of those labs that had interested me, and got a couple of replies back. After an interview, I settled into the larger A-beta project at the Promislow Lab, consisting of a team of other undergraduate and graduate students excited about the population genetics of Alzheimer’s disease. Over time, as I learned the ropes of fly genotyping and the project in general, I started to ask my own questions – which led to my working on my own independent project.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
There are many benefits to doing undergraduate research – from learning more about the research process and gaining experience, to discovering new passions and new ideas. But you have to demonstrate initiative at every step if you want to progress forward – and that initiative should be fueled by your interest and passion for a subject or question. Start thinking about what you’re passionate about – if you’re not sure yet, look at what other research people do and see if that excites you. Do not hesitate to ask other people about what research they do – most likely they will be amazed that you’re showing interest and would be more than happy to explain it to you. Additionally, do not shy away from asking questions and asking for help when you are looking for opportunities and once you are involved in research. Research rarely goes exactly the way you want it to, so in order to stick with it you have to know you will enjoy it and come back even when all of your data does not work out. Most importantly, enjoy it, be passionate about it, and don’t give up searching for opportunities or ways to get involved! There are always new questions to be asked and new things to do, so just do it!

Samia Ali

Ali, SamiaMajor: Physiology (Intended)
Minor: Bioethics
Mentor: Rechele Brooks, Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences

Contact: alis24@uw.edu

Current research project:
Cognitive Behavior of Infants at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
The lab focuses on projects surrounding infants. The studies are dedicated to discovering the fundamental principles of human learning, with a special emphasis on early learning and brain development.

 

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

I personally enjoy human subjects and believe the brain is fascinating. I got involved with the research through a friend who told me about different psych/neuro-focused research around campus.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t limit yourself. If the research is interesting, regardless if it is in your major, go for it.

Jannah Amaly

Amaly, Jannah
Major:
Public Health (Global Health)
Mentor: Jen Krenz, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences

Contact: jaamaly@uw.edu

Current research project: Preventing Heat-Related Illness in Agricultural Workers: An Educational Toolkit for Trainers

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Heat-related illness (HRI) is a serious health risk for agricultural workers that results from prolonged heat exposure and physical exertion. I work with UW’s Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety & Health (PNASH) Center to create an educational resource that provides information about risk factors, symptoms, treatments, and prevention. To personalize the flipbook and make it engaging to farmworkers, we hosted a focus group of community health educators from agricultural communities in Eastern Washington for feedback. Surveys and qualitative discussion showed that the flipbook contains information relevant for prevention and treatment of HRI, and even the focus group themselves would use it in their own training curriculum!

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I knew I needed learning experience outside of the classroom to truly practice the skills I learned inside of the classroom. I tended to apply to any opportunity I come across, and in the spring of my first year at UW, I’m grateful that the Supporting Undergraduate Research Experiences in Environmental Health (SURE-EH) Program accepted me and matched me with the PNASH Center where I have been happily working ever since.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
As a student who does not believe her strengths include math and science, I have always seen research as something I should be afraid of. Instead, my time spent on research has proved to be incredibly valuable in multiple different ways. I’ve learned so much more about collecting and analyzing data, the significance of its impact, and developed relationships with such intelligent and compassionate people. If you are a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research, I strongly encourage you to take advantage! Research will only lead to more opportunities where you can discover what you enjoy and apply those newly learned

Erika Arias

Arias, Erika

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

Contact: ariase@uw.edu

Current Research Project Title:
1) The Newbook Digital Texts: Joseph Mathia Svoboda Diaries 2) Traveling the Tigris: Impacts and Effects of Foreign Involvement in Late Ottoman Iraq.

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
For the Svoboda Diaries, I transcribe late 19th – early 20th century text from the Ottoman Empire written by Joseph Svoboda. This text is later put into a digital format and published online. I used the diaries to create my own individual project in which I track changes along the Tigris river using a mapping software. I then compared the river as described by Joseph in 1890 to how the river looks after US and British impacts in modern day Iraq.

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. Fortunately, Professor Andrews was more than willing to help me. I 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.

Yifei Bai

Bai, Yifei


Major:
Physics: Comprehensive Physics;  Mathematics
Mentor: Jens Gundlach, Physics;  Charles Hagedorn, Physics

Contact: yb23@uw.edu

Current research project: Investigation of the Effect of Temperature Gradient on the Measurement of Equivalence Principle Violation by Constructing a Thermal Monitoring System

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
My project is making thermometers. That’s it.  Actually it’s more subtle and slightly more complicated than that. I’m designing a new, high-resolution thermal monitoring system for the equivalence principle experiment in Eöt-Wash Group. To better explain it, I will write down some context first. The equivalence principle, which asserts the equivalence of inertial and gravitational mass, is perhaps the most fundamental property in gravitational physics and we run one of the highest-precision tests on it and we want to reach an even higher level of precision. During previous experiments, we found that temperature gradient (temperature variation at different places) heavily affected our signals, and hence we need higher-resolution on temperature measurement so we can reach a higher precision for equivalence principle measurement, and this is where my project will contribute. Initially this project was planned for the equivalence principle measurement only, but we are thinking to further expand it as a thermal monitoring system for our lab environment, because nearly all our measurements are temperature sensitive.
When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?

I started this project on February 2018, but I paid attention to the Eöt-Wash group around the start of my sophomore year. Gravitational physics looks really interesting, especially after my visit to the LIGO Hanford site. However, I had no prior research experience and just got denied in an interview. So I didn’t have much confidence and I didn’t contact anyone. During that winter quarter I took a course where faculty in physics department introduce their research to us, and I met my current mentor who is one of the principle investigators in the Eöt-Wash group. I decide to take the opportunity and talked to him. Two days later, I started my research, learning things from scratch.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Finding a research opportunity may sound daunting, but it’s a super rewarding experience. Also, it’s absolutely normal to feel afraid about contacting a faculty member because (for example) you feel you are not prepared, but if you want to learn something in that field, try to reach out. You can’t lose anything. Here I quote one of my professors: “the courage to knock that door is the first trial professors have set up to see if you’re suitable for their projects”. So, if you find a professor’s research interesting and want to participate in depth, don’t hesitate and contact! Show your curiosity and passion!

Chantalle Bell

Bell, Chantalle
Major:
Biochemistry
Mentor: Wendy Thomas, Bioengineering

Contact: csashab@uw.edu

Current research project: Mechanism of Inhibition of Glycoprotein from Bacterial Adhesin, FimH

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
The title of my project is Mechanisms of Inhibition of the Receptor Protein, FimH. FimH is found on the fimbria of uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC). 75%-95% of Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) are caused by UPEC, with about 11 million cases per year in the United States alone. The main virulence factor of UPEC is the ability to form a biofilm on the epithelial cells of the urinary tract. Since about 40% of women worldwide get UTI’s every year, researchers are looking for alternative treatments to the current antibiotic treatments that are provided. Often residual biofilm that wasn’t removed in initial treatment is able to proliferate and cause another infection. In my lab we are looking at anti-adhesive treatments to inhibit the formation and the function of the UPEC biofilm. My project focuses on looking at novel form of inhibition called parasteric inhibition, where two competing ligands bind to the same active site at the same time and one induces dissociation of the other. I use two known ligands of FimH, α-methyl-mannose and Horse Radish Peroxidase to analyze the binding kinetics through ELISA-like assays.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
The last month of my first quarter at the UW, I got accepted into the Wendy Thomas Lab. That was during my junior year since I am a transfer student. I emailed a student I met in the URP and she introduced me to a graduate student who was looking to mentor an undergraduate. I technically interviewed three different times before being accepted into the lab, but it was worth it! I got involved in research because I wanted to participate in creating new knowledge. The amazing thing about each topic is that they delve deep into one specific niche, then ask questions that fosters a better understanding of our world. Research allows undergraduates to become distinguished in a subject that interests us.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Being outside of the classroom in an academic environment provides the opportunity to broaden your horizons. My advice would be to not fight for your limitations, whether it be time, skill, knowledge, or money. Just use the resources that surround you to achieve your goals. Also, decide what is most important for your growth and find a research environment that will assist with that. I started by looking for a research environment where the lab culture is big on mentoring.

Rehaan Bhimani

Bhimani, Rehaan


Major:
Computer Science
Mentor:Ronald Kwon, Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine

Contact: bhimar@uw.edu

Current research project: FishCuTv2: An Extensible Software for microCT-Based Whole-Body Skeletal Phenomics in Zebrafish

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
I improve and develop extensions for an image analysis software called FishCuT which is used by skeletal biologists who conduct studies using the zebrafish model organism. The modules that I add to FishCuT enable researchers to quantify differences in the shapes of specific skeletal structures in the samples of zebrafish. These researchers can use FishCuT in conjunction with gene-knockout studies to identify genes that cause skeletal conditions like brittle bone disease and osteoporosis.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
Since high school, I have been interested in medical problems to do with space travel. I knew that microgravity-induced osteoporosis was a difficulty to astronauts, so I sought out research in the UW Orthopaedics Department. I have been involved in research since the summer after I graduated from high school. I got involved by reaching out to the Principle Investigator of the Musculoskeletal Systems Biology Lab, Dr. Ronald Kwon, who allowed me to try out different aspects of research including wet lab work and software development. I learned that I really love creating software tools, and I have been involved in the improvement of FishCuT since my first quarter at UW.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would, and do, tell every student considering getting involved in undergraduate research to not be afraid to try it out. I know it can be a little scary and uncomfortable at times, but I think it is an amazing way to develop your technical and soft skills while also exploring different interests. I really do think that there is an undergraduate research position for everyone at this university, and that with a little bit of digging students can find a project that excites and inspires them.

Daniel Brock

Brock, Daniel

Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Susan Brockerhoff, Biochemistry; Rachel Hutto, Biochemistry

Contact: dbrock4@uw.edu

Current research project: Determining the Effect of Circadian Rhythm and Cellular Stress on Mitochondrial Biogenesis in Zebrafish Retina

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
I study mitochondria in the retina cells of zebrafish.  Specifically, I look at how retinal mitochondria respond to cellular stress and circadian rhythm.  I research how retina cells maintain their mitochondria through expression of mitochondrial biogenesis genes.  I hope my work will eventually help in the understanding of blindness related to mitochondrial damage.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got interested in research during a summer internship at Fred Hutch.  The idea of making new discoveries in science that could lead to improvements in human health really appealed to me.  I spoke with my future biochemistry professor and got started in her lab in the Summer of 2017, between my sophomore and junior years.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Speak up and get started early!  Start talking to your professors and the URP. They will help guide you to a research position that you will enjoy.  Once you start research, you will not regret it!  Research will be the highlight of your undergraduate experience!

Katherine Brower

Brower, Katherine


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.

Savanna Carmack

Carmack, SavannaMajor: Biochemistry & Medical Laboratory Science
Minor: Biomedical Ethics
Mentors: Jim Olson, Pediatrics; Shelli Morris, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Contact: savannac@uw.edu

Current research project: Investigation of Metabolic Inhibitors for MYC-amplified Pediatric Brain Cancer

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I am a member of the Olson Lab, located at the Fred Hutch. We study rare pediatric brain cancers that have little or no treatment options, such as medulloblastoma and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). We are taking a multi-pronged approach to combating brain cancer. Currently, we are testing combinatorial drug treatments with immunotherapies, as these tumor types often become resistant to treatment over time when only a single therapeutic agent is used—which causes relapse for the patient. Additionally, I make glowing viruses and utilize gene trap technology to infect tumor cells, which makes them glow, so that we can image and monitor tumor volume in experiments under various treatment conditions.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
The summer before I was a junior, I did an internship through the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) at the Fred Hutch, here in Seattle. That summer, I became fascinated with the puzzle-solving aspect of cancer research and I also had a strong desire to do brain cancer research because I have lost several family members to brain tumors. The Work Study program helped with funding for me to be able to stay in my lab after my summer internship and I have been there ever since.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Take the leap! The best learning that I have had at UW, and the most I have ever learned about myself, has been through my undergraduate research experience. Book learning is incomplete without the hands-on, real-world experience. You can’t imagine what kind of interesting discovery might be waiting for you—until you do it!

Yong-Han Hank Cheng

Cheng, Yong-Han Hank
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!

Angela Christman

Christman, Angela
Major:
Biology (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental)
Mentor: Dan Doherty, Pediatrics

Contact: chrisang@uw.edu

Current research project: Investigating Protein Localization in the Primary Cilium to Better Understand the Cellular Mechanism(s) of Joubert Syndrome

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:

I research Joubert Syndrome (JS), a rare congenital condition that affects the primary cilium. Individuals with JS have developmental delay, ataxia (loss of bodily coordination), and hypotonia (low muscle tone). Subsets of JS patients additionally suffer cystic kidney disease, liver fibrosis, coloboma (eye irregularities), and retinal dystrophy, all of which can significantly decrease the quality of life for individuals with JS. My research is on the localization of JS associated proteins in the primary cilium, using immunofluorescence in patient-derived cell lines. Understanding the mechanism of JS is essential in discovering targeted therapeutics for the condition.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I became involved in researching mycofiltarion of lead contaminants in drinking water at South Puget Sound Community College before transferring to UW last year, when I decided I wanted to pursue a career in medical research. I realized I find problem-solving both challenging and extremely rewarding, and application of the content I learn is important to me as a student. Eventually, I hope to pursue an MSTP program in order to spend my career bringing research from bench to bedside.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t let failures set you back. Failures will only increase as you progress and test the limits of your abilities. Fail fast, and often. Each failure is a lesson that can propel you forward, and if you put too much of your self-worth in avoiding failure, you inevitably will stunt your growth. The absolute only way to avoid failure is to play it safe and avoid aspiration. Many labs are busy, and a rejection from 10, and acceptance to 1, is still an overall success. This principle applies to success of experiments as well, and all areas of life.

Michael Chungyoun

Chungyoun, MichaelMajor: Biology (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental)
Minor: Neural Computation and Engineering
Mentor: Chris Hague, Pharmacology

Contact: mfc12@uw.edu

Current research project: Understanding the Functional Characteristics of the Adrenergic Receptor Known as Alpha-1D, and How its Half-life Degradation Rate Changes When the Receptor’s Composition is Modified

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
The research team I am a part of focuses on the study of signaling molecules known as G-protein Coupled Receptors (GPCR’s), which are the target of almost half of all commercially available pharmaceutical drugs. My personal project is on the specific GPCR known as alpha-1D. I am attempting to determine how modifying the composition of alpha-1D will affect its half-life degradation rate.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I first started getting involved in undergraduate research in spring quarter of my sophomore year. I had deeply enjoyed one of my introductory biology classes, which focused on molecular biology, and decided to pursue that passion. After visiting a friend’s pharmacology research team and expressing my interest in what he was currently doing, I was given the opportunity to shadow him for a few weeks and see what it would be like to assume a position in the research team. Eventually, the private investigator offered me a position.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
The advice I would offer a student considering getting involved in undergraduate research is understanding that everyone can benefit from research differently. With the plethora of research opportunities available, along with the unique schedules that every student already must cope with, no two students’ experience with research will be the same.  I whole-heartedly believe that every student can benefit from conducting research. Especially since we are part of a renowned research university like the UW, no one should feel discouraged if they haven’t found a research opportunity that interests them so far, because with enough digging, research in pretty much any major field can be found.

Daven Cocroft


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

Contact: cocrod@uw.edu

Current research project:  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


Major:
Chemical Engineering
Mentor: Grant Williamson, Molecular Engineering

Contact: bmd23@uw.edu

Current research project:  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.

Danilo Dubocanin

Dubocanin, Danilo
Major: Microbiology, Biochemistry
Mentor: Parthiv Haldipur, Pediatrics

Contact: dubocd@uw.edu

Current research project: Heterotopia in Dandy Walker Malformation Are Caused by Premature Migration of Cerebellar Granule Cells Due to Disrupted Fetal Mesenchymal Signaling

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Dandy Walker Malformation is the most common structural birth defect of the cerebellum (part of the hindbrain). My current work focuses on understanding the mechanisms of ectopic cellular architecture observed in pathological preparations of Dandy Walker cerebella. In this project, I have generated a mouse model that knocks out a specific receptor protein in one cell type of the nascent cerebellum at a certain age. This receptor protein has been shown to be important in proper cerebellum development. By knocking out the expression of this one protein in developing mice, and subsequently analyzing their cerebella at various ages, we can elucidate a possible mechanism for the development of ectopic cell structures in Dandy Walker cerebella. My project involves genetics and neuroscience.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I applied to many labs my sophomore year and heard back from very few! When I got accepted into the Millen lab I was really excited to get started and I loved it! I wanted to get involved in research because I felt like it was an interesting and exciting way to supplement my academics at the UW. I also believe it is an outlet to push students to independently problem-solve, which is an exciting and novel experience. In this way, undergraduate research prepares you for a career outside of college, whether it be in industry or grad school. Ultimately, I plan on attending grad school, and being involved in research has both prepared me and strengthened my applications for graduate school.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Do it! You can’t lose anything from trying, so I think that if you, as a student, have even an inkling of desire to pursue research you should. It will probably be one of the most rewarding academic experiences of your life in both tangible and intangible ways. If you’re on the fence, you should still do it! Being involved in academia is such a great way to strengthen your resume and develop your technical and professional skills. Our mentors at the UW are incredibly supportive and will assist you in your pursuits.

Reilly Falter

Falter, Reilly
Major: Biology (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental)
Mentors: Ben Kerr, Biology; Olivia Kosterlitz, Biology

Contact: falter@uw.edu

Current research project: Identifying Evolutionary Trade-offs in the Beta-lactamase Enzyme in Escherichia coli

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
I am examining the evolution of antibiotic resistance in Escherichia coli in hopes of predicting more effective treatments.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in research after taking BIOL482 my sophomore year. I approached the PI of my lab and asked if anyone in his group needed help on their projects and he helped get me started on my first project.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Being motivated and reliable can be more valuable to faculty members than prior knowledge! If you are willing to learn and can commit to the project, that will make you a great asset to a research group.

Rose Fields

Fields, Rose
Major: Biochemistry
Mentors: Neil King, Biochemistry; Karla-Luise Herpoldt, Biochemistry

Contact: rfields2@uw.edu

Current research project: Design of a Protein Cage-Based Vaccine for Enteric Diseases

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I am designing a nanoparticle vaccine candidate that uses self-assembling protein cages to display an antigen for an enteric disease (like typhoid, cholera, rotavirus, etc.) while carrying all-trans retinoic acid (a Vitamin A metabolite) that will target the immune response to the patient’s gut. This vaccine could provide a viable and efficient option for protecting children in sub-Saharan Africa against these diseases, where they are most deadly.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
The summer before I started at UW, I met Karla, the postdoc I work with at the Institute for Protein Design, at the National Youth Science Camp. She gave a lecture on the work she was doing with pH-responsive protein cages, and I was absolutely fascinated. I asked her if she would take me on as an undergraduate research assistant so that I could get some experience in nanoengineering, and I started with her the October of my freshman year.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be afraid to be persistent! Professors and PIs are generally terrible about checking their email, so don’t hesitate to send two or three follow up emails if you don’t hear back from them. It seems scary, but persistence will never count against you when you’re applying for a job.

Casey Grosso

Grosso, Casey
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.

Eden Faith Harris

Harris, Eden FaithMajor: Physics: Comprehensive Physics
Mentors:
Matt McQuinn, Astronomy; Gordon Petrie, National Solar Observatory

Contact: edenfh@uw.edu

Current research projects: 1.) What Can the JWST Tell Us about the Universe’s First Galaxies?  2.) Relating Geoeffective Interplanetary Coronal Mass Ejections to the Global Solar Field

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
My research looks at the extent to which NASA’s new telescope, called the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), will be able to pick up on the clustering of the Universe’s first galaxies. The first galaxies brought about important changes in the composition of the Universe, and understanding their behavior is an important step for cosmologists in putting together a clearer picture of the Universe’s evolution. As the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, the JWST will be able to see farther back in time than ever before, giving us our first glimpse of the earliest galaxies. Since the JWST has been such a large investment in time and money, it is important that we know as much as we can about what we can use it for before it is launched. My project seeks to determine whether or not certain JWST instruments will be able to detect the clustering of early galaxies at different ages of the Universe.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in research through the Pre-Major in Astronomy Program (Pre-MAP, or ASTR 192) my freshman year. I was interested in research because I wanted to see if astronomy was something I wanted to do long-term. Additionally, I liked the idea of being able to contribute something to the scientific community through research.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would encourage anyone who is considering getting involved in research to get in touch with the Undergraduate Research Program. They can help you to get involved with research in a way that is best for you. If you are hesitant, I encourage you to give research a try because it can enhance your undergraduate experience in many ways. Ultimately, don’t give up searching for research if it is something you want to do. There are many different projects on campus and there is a place where you can contribute meaningfully.

Rohan Hiatt


Majors: Mathematics; English
Mentor: Amos Turchet, Mathematics

Contact: rohankh@uw.edu

Current research project: 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!

Laura Islas

Islas, Laura
Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Benjamin Freedman, Medicine

Contact: lauravi@uw.edu

Current research project: Induction of Collecting Duct Progenitor Cells to Build a Better Kidney Organoid

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Chronic kidney disease affects over 10% of the population and the only treatments available are organ transplants and dialysis, but they are limited in availability and efficacy. Regenerative medicine is needed to create new therapies that can be produced on-demand and will not be rejected by the body’s immune system. Our lab uses human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) to generate immunocompatible kidney organoids containing the major proximal structures of the nephron, the functional subunit of the kidney, including podocytes, proximal tubules, distal tubules, and endothelial cells. Unfortunately, these structures do not contain a collecting duct system, a crucial component of the nephron. My job is to test various small molecules involved in the early development of the kidney on hPSCs to see if they differentiate into the mature collecting duct.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
A good friend of mine got me involved in research. She told me about this new lab that was looking for students who had an interest in stem cell research for the kidney. I got involved my freshman year and I have been a part of this lab since then! I wanted to get involved because I saw it as a great opportunity to explore my interests.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Undergraduate research is a great way to figure out plans after college. It gives students the opportunity to be in an environment with more experienced peers that can become awesome mentors while also getting the chance to network and build connections with professionals in their field of interest!

Hannah Jolibois

Jolibois, Hannah
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.

Min Su Kim

Kim, Min Su
Major: Law, Societies, and Justice
Mentor: Shelby Lunderman, Drama

Contact: minsukim@uw.edu

Current research project: The Impact of the Media’s Rhetoric: A Historical Analysis on the Relationship Between Media and Judicial Opinion Concerning Immigration.

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
My current research project analyzes the rhetoric used in media sources to understand how media repertoire has reflected the legal identity and treatment of immigrants. Through this research, I hope to evaluate how the language of media has continued to shape the lens that we view and have viewed immigrants through, which will allow us to better understand and address the current state of the immigration crisis. I am also involved in a group-based research project that seeks to document the human rights abuses and subsequent importance of the field of forensic anthropology in attaining justice in Latin America. Specifically, we have focused on Guatemala’s “Dirty War”- a period of state terrorism and genocide during the mid-late 20th century. With this research, we are currently developing an online educational platform for the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Department of the Jackson School.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I first got involved in undergraduate research during winter quarter of my freshman year. Although I was hesitant about reaching out because I had no formal research experience, my peers and professors reminded me that research is an important learning experience to have. Because of their advice, I accessed the URP database, and contacted the PI of a study on how fixed and growth mindsets are developed through “gifted” programs. Through that experience, I learned that research is truly something that you learn along the way, and no one is expected to be an expert before they begin. Since my first research experience, I have reached out to professors about research, and have even participated in SIAH (the Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities), which has helped me to develop and pursue my own research projects!

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
There are plenty of opportunities for research at the University of Washington! Regardless of your major or class standing, you will find a position perfect for you if you simply reach out. PI’s, professors, graduate students, and the Undergraduate Research Program are there to mentor you, connect you to resources, and are overall more than willing to teach you the necessary skills to set you up for success in research.

Tara Kumar

Kumar, Tara
Major: Biology (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental)
Mentor: Josh Russell, Pathology

Contact: tjk97@uw.edu

Current research project: Developing S. cerevisiae for Studying Alzheimer’s Disease-Associated Proteins’ Impact on Extracellular Vesicle Signaling

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive degenerative disorder that affects over 5.5 million Americans, resulting in memory loss and cognitive decline over time. AD is characterized by the accumulation of neurofibrillary tangles composed of pathogenic proteins, such as Tau and alpha-synuclein. Extracellular vesicles (EVs), which primarily function in intercellular communication, may play a critical role in the propagation of these pathogenic proteins in the brain. My research aims to investigate the cellular pathways that influence the biogenesis, secretion, and uptake of EVs carrying AD-associated toxic proteins using the model system Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or yeast.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research the spring of my sophomore year of college. I wanted to get a more hands-on learning experience with science, in a structure different from learning science in classes. I also wanted to connect myself to a community of students who shared interests similar to me, and who shared with me a passion for science.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would say to put yourself out there! There is no harm in reaching out to any faculty member if you are interested in their research. I would also say to use the Undergraduate Research Program as a tool in getting involved with research, since the resources and staff are great.

Dianne Laboy Cintrón

Laboy Cintron, Dianne


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

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!

Kristine Leano

Leano, Kristine
Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Alex Lowe, Biology

Contact: leanok@uw.edu

Current research project: Impact of Interactions with Eelgrass on Native and Aquaculture Oyster Essential Fatty Acid Composition

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
I analyze essential fatty acid composition of oysters to investigate its potential to provide an understanding of the impact of environmental variants (food type, use of eelgrass, etc.) on the physiological health condition of these marine organisms.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
Simply put, curiosity is what drove me to get involved in research. Volunteering at the Undergraduate Research Symposium as a freshman sparked my interest when I became exposed to fellow undergraduates who were so passionate, intelligent, and determined in their work. I wanted to be a part of a team right away and became a researcher the summer before my sophomore year through connecting with professors and graduate students of the UW Biology department.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
BE PROACTIVE! Visit the drop-in advising hours at URP or attend an info session. Look up open research positions on the URP database. You can even just talk to your professors and TAs about their research to show that you are interested. Take advantage of all the resources we have here on campus, and you will exponentially increase your chances of finding the best research experience for you.

Nelson Liu

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

Contact: nfliu@uw.edu
Current research project: 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.

Tiffany Luu

Luu, Tiffany
Major: Psychology, Pre-medicine
Minor: Bioethics

Mentor: Tatiana Sadak, Nursing

Current research project: 1) Managing Your Own Wellness: Caregivers and Patients with Dementia 2) NEW Moms Connect: Nurturing Emotional Well-being

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
1) Caregivers often sacrifice their health and well-being to take care of their loved one with dementia. Our research team aims to identify gaps in healthcare delivery and design interventions to encourage collaboration between clinicians and caregivers. We do this by interviewing caregivers, using measurement tools to assess caregiver needs, and reviewing electronic medical records.
2) Transition to motherhood can be an extremely beautiful process, but it can also be very stressful and overwhelming. Our research team has developed three programs with goals to help new moms adjust to their new life. These programs incorporate mindfulness, which aim to reduce stress, promote health and self-care, and support positive parenting and connections with mom and baby.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I applied to my first undergraduate research position at the end of my sophomore year with HuskyJobs (now known as Handshake). My first position with the Department of Surgery was a great introduction to research in healthcare. I got involved in research because I was curious about what research entailed. Research has given me the ability to apply what I’ve learned in school to a professional setting, gain new skills, and establish wonderful connections.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
My advice to fellow undergrads is find out what you are really passionate about and seek opportunities that resonate with your goals. The rest will follow. If you don’t know what your passionate about just yet, be willing to explore different fields! Take risks and take a leap of faith – reach out to professors, apply to positions, and ask your friends/classmates. Don’t be afraid to try new things or fail. And if you ever feel lost or overwhelmed, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us undergraduate research leaders or advisors in the Undergraduate Research Program!

Deja Machen

Machen, Deja
Major: Biology (Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental)
Minor: English
Mentor:
Daniel Promislow, Pathology; Katie Dickinson, Biology

Contact: dejamm@uw.edu

Current research project: Evolutionary Genetics/Amyloid Beta Project

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I am working on a study to identify genetic modifiers of Alzheimer’s Disease, using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model. The goal of this study is to identify genes that confer resistance to Alzheimer’s. My independent project involves analyzing the circadian rhythm of fruit flies with the human form of a gene that is correlated to the initiation and progression of Alzheimer’s. I have also worked in the biology department helping to teach students about antibiotic resistance in a research setting.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I want to study Alzheimer’s for the rest of my career, and I knew this entering UW as a freshman; however, I didn’t start working in a lab until my sophomore year. A UW faculty member assuaged my apprehension of joining a lab and connected me to someone they knew that studied Alzheimer’s, who offered me a position in his lab.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t let the idea that you won’t be helpful in a lab because you aren’t a master of the subject dissuade you from emailing or talking to faculty members. PIs are not expecting you to know everything about their research, or their lab, or their subject. PIs do appreciate a potential mentee that is enthusiastic, inquisitive, and that would be dedicated to their work in the lab.

Nihar Mahajan


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

Contact: niharm@uw.edu

Current research project: 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.

Katie Mand

Mand, Katie
Major:
Neurobiology
Mentor: Juliane Gust, Neurology

Contact: komalm@uw.edu

Current research project:Investigating Neurotoxicity and Endothelial Activation After Immunotherapy with CAR T-Cell Cancer Treatment

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
CAR-T Cell Cancer therapy involves engineering our body’s ‘T-cells’ (immune cells) to express receptors called Chimeric Antigen Receptors which then allow them to help fight tumor formation in the body. We have found that some patients that undergo this therapy develop neurotoxicity (ranging from headache to stroke) and my current research is investigating why this is happening.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in UW relatively early. I interviewed at my first lab winter quarter of my freshman year and started working in the spring. I always knew I wanted to get involved with research as UW is known for its plethora of research opportunities. I spoke to an advisor in Mary Gates Hall about how to get started, and how to contact labs. The rest is history, as they say!

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Research has played a critical role in developing me into the student and person I am today. This is because my research and the time I have spent in the laboratory has all been meaningful! Join a research lab that you are passionate about and make sure that you have the time and energy to make contributions!

Takunda Masike

Masike, Takunda
Major: Electrical Engineering
Mentor: Matthew Bruce, Applied Physics Lab

Contact: ttmasike@uw.edu

Current research project: Ultrasound Imaging of Rat Spinal Cord Injury

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
I work at the Center for Industrial and Medical Ultrasound (CIMU) in the UW Applied Physics Laboratory under Dr. Bruce. We are interested in developing ultrasound imaging techniques for spinal cord injury. Traumatic spinal cord injury results in significant loss of blood flow at the site of injury. Loss of blood flow leads to progressive cell death of spinal cord tissue. Clinical monitoring of the blood flow within the spinal cord is currently not possible. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) is a technique the lab is developing in order to visualize and monitor blood vessels and blood flow after traumatic spinal cord injury. This work will eventually help develop better treatment for spinal cord injuries. My role includes image processing and signal processing of ultrasound images and acquisition.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
My first research experience was at an immersive summer research program at the University of Delaware soon after my freshman year. I was curious and interested in finding out more about the process of research. I was also drawn to the prospect of discovery, probing into areas no one else has, and being at the forefront of creating new knowledge. I enjoyed being a member of an interdisciplinary and collaborative team in a research lab. I also received valuable mentorship and guidance from my mentor and lab Principal Investigator which encouraged me to continue participating in research.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I’d say go for it! There are so many valuable skills you can gain by participating in research. You’ll have a better understanding of concepts and coursework that transcends the classroom experience by applying your knowledge to something as novel and practical as research. The lab that you’ll work in will also provide mentorship in whatever career you want to pursue. I’d start by looking at the research areas your department’s faculty specializes in then seeing what interests you. We have many resources here at the Undergraduate Research Program (URP) to help you get started and identify research opportunities.

Meena Meyyappan


Major
: Neurobiology
Mentor: Jennifer Rabbitts, Pain Medicine

Contact: alagumee@uw.edu

Current research project: Learning, Equipping and Preparing for Surgery: An Online Peri-Operative Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention for Adolescents and Parents

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Surgery can be a very confusing and demanding time for adolescents and parents especially major surgeries such as spinal fusions. There is a high risk for post-operative development of chronic pain (pain lasting more than 3 months) after these major surgeries. The current standard of pain follow-up is not adequate enough for these adolescents. The purpose of this study is develop a peri-operative program administered to adolescents undergoing major surgery and their parents to better equip them for what to expect in surgery and pain management and recovery post-operation.

 

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 participated in the Scan Design: Innovations in Pain Research program through the UW. After an intensive summer this program I fell in love with my research in pediatric pain and decided to continue doing it there. I’ve now been a member of the Pediatric Pain and Sleep Innovations Lab at Seattle Children’s for 1.5 years. I initially started doing research because it was a resource that UW offered me that I wanted to try and take advantage of while I had the opportunity. 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, apply for scholarships and be involved in publications and presentations.

Taylor Moreno

Moreno, Taylor
Major: Biology (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental); Biochemistry
Mentor: Shao-En Ong, Pharmacology

Contact: tmoreno@uw.edu

Current research project: Generating Constructs for Synaptic Neuro-proteomics.

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Understanding the protein makeup of synapses is crucial for understanding brain function. However, due to the physical complexity of neurons, it’s been proven difficult to attain precise spatial information. By generating APEX2 fusion proteins, we hope to label specific post-synaptic clefts in-vivo so that specific synaptic protein maps can be generated.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research in fall 2017 – my first quarter at UW! My professors at community college had gotten me really excited about all the opportunities in Seattle, and so I was really excited to find the Undergraduate Research Program (URP). I went to a URP info session, searched the database, consulted with a URP staff member, and sent in my research application to a lab. To my great joy, I was accepted for the internship and my undergraduate research career began! I am so happy to be in research because it gives me the opportunity to actually contribute to the scientific community and utilize classroom knowledge.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Apply, apply, apply! I have submitted more applications for scholarships and programs than I care to count. Usually only one or two things will come through for me, but a lot of times I’m disappointed. Thus, the important thing to do is not give up! You have talents and interests that are uniquely YOU! If you keep going for your dreams and persevere through rejections, someone will eventually realize how awesome you’d be in a research setting.

Sacha Moufarrej

Moufarrej, Sacha
Major: Neurobiology
Mentor: Tonya Palermo, Anesthesiology

Contact: moufasa@uw.edu

Current research project: The Prevalence of Chronic Pain in Young Adults: A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Chronic pain is a growing public health issue, both nationally and globally. While there is relatively homogenous data on the prevalence of chronic pain in pediatric and general adult populations, this has not been well documented in young adults, an important and vulnerable population. This project aims to review existing data to determine the prevalence of chronic pain in young adults, and to analyze potential biopsychosocial factors associated with the development of chronic pain in this age group. We hope that by having a better idea of young adults’ experience of chronic pain, treatments could be more effectively tailored for this specific population.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I first got involved in undergraduate research during my sophomore year at UW, during which I worked as a research assistant at the Kleinhans Lab, which primarily studies sensory mechanisms of children with autism. I found this opportunity through an extensive search on the Undergraduate Research Program’s online research database. I then found out about a summer internship, the Scan Design Innovations in Pain Research Summer Program, through a professor. I completed this internship at the Sleep Innovations Lab at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, under Dr. Tonya Palermo, and I am continuing my work there throughout the year.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that it is perfectly alright to make mistakes when pursuing research. I was initially discouraged from finding challenging research opportunities because I was worried about having limited knowledge about the research subject. However, one of the main purposes of undergraduate research is to learn, and to apply what you learn, through trial and error, to the advancement of that research. Do not worry about having limited experience and knowledge, because you will quickly find many people who will happily support you throughout your research experience.

Noushyar Panahpour Eslami

Panahpour Eslami, Noush
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.

Samantha Paskvan

Paskvan, Samantha
Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Bonita Brewer, Genome Sciences; M.K. Raghuraman, Genome Sciences

Contact: samlyn16@uw.edu

Current research project:Mechanisms of Chromosomal Rearrangement

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Chromosomal rearrangements are an often-overlooked source of genetic variation. These rearrangements can produce gene inversions and amplifications which have been observed in clinical cases and are associated with developmental delays and cancer. My research uses Saccharomyces cerevisiae, yeast as a model organism to observe errors in DNA replication that can cause these chromosomal rearrangements. Understanding the underlying mechanism of gene amplifications is a necessary step toward understanding the how these genetic disorders arise, and suggests further research in preventing disease-causing gene amplifications.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
In fall quarter of my junior year, I took Introductory Genetics with an incredibly passionate and dedicated professor. On the last day of the quarter I decided I didn’t want to stop learning about genetics. I approached the professor and scheduled a meeting to discuss his research and was drawn in by both the complex genetic puzzles and the amazing research community. I also met with the current undergraduate researchers in the lab to get a sense of what daily research entailed before whole-heartedly committing to late nights in the lab and a steep learning curve.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would advise students interested in undergraduate research to prioritize finding a research environment that emphasizes teaching, provides strong mentorship, and has a positive community. Being surrounded and supported by peers and mentors in your field can be incredibly empowering and help shape your ideas for the future.

John Perr

Perr, JonathanMajor: Biochemistry
Mentor: Joshua Vaughan, Chemistry

Contact: perrj@uw.edu

Current research projects: 1.) Super-Resolution Microscopy/Improved Nanoscale Imaging Achieved by Index Matching with Expansion Microscopy 2.) Super-Resolution Microscopy and Neurobiology/Microtubule acetylation is required for mechanosensation in Drosophila 3.) Peptide Mapping/Optimizing Peptide Mapping of PEG-FGF21 for Analysis Methionine Oxidation

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
I primarily work on optimizing the super-resolution microscopy technique, Expansion Microscopy (ExM). ExM allows biologists to achieve resolution of ~65 nm with a light microscope by expanding the sample rather than utilizing greater magnification; the enhanced resolution facilitated by ExM enables the cost-effective study of intracellular features that were previously extremely expensive to observe. I focus on enhancing the evenness of expansion to mitigate any distortions associated with expanding the sample.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
The professor of my fall quarter freshman year CHEM 145 class sent out an email mentioning an opening for an undergraduate researcher in his lab, and I quickly jumped on the opportunity. Although I had no expectations, I knew that getting involved in undergraduate research would be a great first step in pursuing my intended career in scientific research. I knew virtually nothing about super-resolution microscopy, but I read the professor’s publications and expressed my enthusiasm. Evidently, that was enough, and I have worked with Dr. Vaughan since winter quarter of my freshman year.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
If you’re interested in getting involved in undergraduate research, I would highly recommend first doing a little research on professors with whom you’ve taken classes or who study topics that particularly fascinate you. Once you have identified a research space that piques your curiosity, shoot the head of that project an email. Be friendly, persistent, and enthusiastic, and you’re bound to find your way into a field of research that suits your interests.

Tanu Priya

Priya, Tanu
Major: Materials Science & Engineering
Mentor: David Baker, Biochemistry; Anindya Roy, Biochemistry

Contact: tanu97@uw.edu

Current research project: Computational Design of Redox Active Metalloproteins

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Metalloproteins, accounting for at least one ­third of all known proteins, catalyze a myriad of reactions essential to life on earth such as photosynthesis, respiration, metabolism, and signaling. My research focuses on designing metalloproteins from scratch using a protein designing software called Rosetta, developed by our lab. I then produce these proteins and characterize them to compare the actual structure to that predicted by the design software. If we are able to produce metalloproteins with the intended functional properties, we can fine­ tune these proteins as per our need of application.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I became part of the Baker Lab as a lab assistant in my freshman year to look over the day to day maintenance. After 2 quarters of training in basic media and buffer preparation, I got the opportunity to work with a post­doc on producing and characterizing De­novo enzymes designs he had produced. I further moved onto designing some components of enzymes myself. I have always aspired to become a researcher. This was also the primary motivator to fly across the ocean to join UW.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Keep an open mind about what you will be interested in and don’t be afraid to approach professors and graduate students. You’ll be surprised at how many of them will be open to the idea of bringing an undergrad on board. Keeping this in mind, start your search early!

Hyejoo Ro

Roo, Hyejoo
Major:
Aquatic & Fishery Sciences
Mentor:
Chelsea Wood, Aquatic & Fishery Sciences; April Blakeslee, Biology, East Carolina University

Contact: hr27@uw.edu

Current research project: Effects of Trematode Parasite (Microphallus similis) on the Behavior of Green Crabs (Carcinus maenas)

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
I am broadly interested in ecological processes like predator-prey dynamics. Currently I am working on two projects that fall under this theme. One of the projects is exploring how a flatworm parasite influences the behavior of its green crab host. Some parasites have very specific lifecycles that require multiple hosts, so to increase the likelihood of reaching the next host stage needed to complete the life cycle, some parasites use host behavior manipulation to increase trophic transmission. My project aims to determine how this flatworm parasite changes the behavior of green crabs in terms of predation. The second project is using stable isotope analyses to determine dietary trends of brown bears. Since predators like brown bears can impose great impacts on ecosystem, it is important to quantify the extent of that impact. My project’s hope is to find sources of variability of brown bear diet whether it is through gender, year, or season.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in helping in graduate student research since my freshman year, but I started on my independent projects closer to my junior year. Most of my involvement has been done through networking and connections with different faculty, and graduate students. I got involved in research because it is a way to apply the concept I am learning in a class. Also, conducting research helps give me practical skills I will need for a career I am interested in.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Just say yes, you never know what kind of adventures you’ll have until you put yourself out there. Research has brought me some wild experience like fishing along the U.S west coast (Neah Bay, Washington to Moss Landing, California), or spending 10 weeks in a rock island that serves as a breeding ground for gulls six miles off the coast of Maine to conduct parasite ecology research. You may have some of the best experiences of your life through research and meet some really great people to build a community.

Silvia-Antonia Rus

Rus, Silvia-Antonia
Major: Environmental Health
Mentor: Christopher Braden, Biochemistry

Contact: sar34@uw.edu

Current research project: Developing a Tool for the Investigation of Hydrogen Sulfide Response in C. elegans

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
I am a Student Research Assistant in the Miller Laboratory, in the Department of Biochemistry. We study hydrogen sulfide response in Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). C. elegans is a nematode (worm) that is a great model organism for research due to its short generation times and extensive tools for genetic manipulation. Low dose exposure to hydrogen sulfide was found to enable nematode survival at a dose that normally would not allow their survival. We believe that the initial low exposure to hydrogen sulfide formed a “bookmark” that facilitated stress response to high hydrogen sulfide concentrations. Previously, our research group identified possible epigenetic factors that could be involved in the formation and/or maintenance of the bookmark. My project is focused in testing some of the epigenetic factors in various settings to establish their role in the hydrogen sulfide response pathway in C. elegans.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I joined the Miller laboratory during my second year at the University of Washington. I found them through the URP database. I emailed Dr. Miller and she offered to interview me, which resulted in my hiring. I started at the University of Washington thinking that I wanted to be a Biochemistry major, but by taking some classes, I discovered that I was interested in the application of biochemistry in real life, so instead I became an Environmental Health major, and tried to find a research position that would complement my field of study. I was also curious to see how research as an undergraduate looked like and how that would prepare me for a career in Medicine.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I recommend getting involved into research. It has not only helped me grow academically, but it improved my self-confidence and creative problem-solving. My experience in doing research as part of a team and as an individual also contributed to my obtaining an internship with the National Environmental Health Association. It gets a bit challenging to juggle between research, classes, and work, but using a daily planner made a great difference in my time management.

Nadia Siddiqui

Siddiqui, Nadia
Major: Bioengineering
Mentor: Jennifer Davis, Cardiovascular Bioengineering

Contact: nadiasid@uw.edu
Current research project: Using Genetic Engineering Approaches to Inform Cardiac Wound Healing and the Fibrotic Response

 

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
After cardiac injury, like a heart attack, a heart must repair dead, oxygen deficient tissue to prevent further damage. Since the heart has a limited ability to regenerate healthy muscle tissue, it instead relies on repair through fibrosis and scarring. Fibrosis is the excess accumulation of collagen and other stiff matrix components secreted by activated fibroblasts. Because of these stiff components, fibrotic buildup leaves the heart inflexible and unable to properly relax and contract. At the Davis Lab, we use in vivo and in vitro models to identify the networks that create the fibrotic response and use these networks to enhance the way the heart repairs itself.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
My freshman year at UW I was connected to my research mentor through Women in Science and Engineering. After shadowing in the research environment and learning lab techniques I decided I wanted to continue researching with the Davis Lab. I knew I wanted to do research because I was interested in learning about what research is and whether I wanted to pursue research as a career. Once I had some research experience I knew I wanted to stick with it because being a part of solving real world problems and seeing science in action is so cool and, of course, meaningful.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Research is such a great way to learn about a subject but also about yourself and your own career and path, which can take a lot of persistence and enthusiasm, but it really pays off. Also don’t be afraid to ask for help! URP has a ton of resources for getting undergraduates connected with research opportunities which make the process of finding a lab – which can seem pretty daunting – much easier.

Shivam Singhal

Singhal, Shivam
Major: Computer Engineering
Mentor: Daqing Yi, Computer Science and Engineering; Tapomayukh Bhattacharjee, Computer Science and Engineering

Contact: shivam42@uw.edu

Current research project: Desk Organization: Effect of Multimodal Inputs on Spatial Relational Learning

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
My primary focus is in robotics. It’s important for robots to be able to use various types of information to understand and interact with the world. Part of this interaction relies on spatial reasoning; understanding where things are relative to the robot and relative to each other. Desk organization serves as a sample task on which we can test the performance of different models in learning, and replicating, spatial relations.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in research at the end of fall quarter my sophomore year. I got in touch with my lab because I thought what they did was cool, and was interested in learning more about robotics.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be scared of emailing and talking to professors, before and during your research. You’ll get out of research what you put in.

Abby von Hagel

von Hagel, Abby
Major: Biology (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental) ; Neurobiology
Mentor: Tom Daniel, Biology

Contact: aavh9@uw.edu

Current research project: Measuring Timing and Activation of Flight Muscles in Manduca sexta through Electromyography (EMG) and High-Speed Infrared Video

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Very little is understood about the sub-cellular dynamics of muscle contraction. Using the moth, Manduca sexta, we are exploring muscle dynamics during flight. With a combination of electromyography (EMG) and X-ray diffraction techniques we are able to resolve changes in muscle at the angstrom-level (one ten-billionth of a meter). This enables us to better understand timing of activation, muscle deformation, and fluid forces during a contraction. Additionally, the muscles of Manduca are similar to the muscles of the human heart allowing us to make predictions about impacts of muscle dynamics on cardiovascular diseases.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved with undergraduate research as part of a Marine Research Course at Friday Harbor Laboratories my sophomore year. I was inspired to explore research due to a presentation by Undergraduate Research Leaders in my FIG. I have now been involved in several research projects ranging from marine intertidal ecology, deep-sea fish biomechanics, to neuromuscular dynamics insect flight control. My diverse research experiences have allowed me to develop a wide variety of skills and explore interests in multiple fields. I am constantly honing in on questions that excite me.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would advise someone interested in undergraduate research to look at their perceived inexperience as an opportunity for growth. Being a first or second year student allows mentors to invest in your training and provides you time to grow in your role within the lab. Potential mentors are often impressed when undergraduate students find their work interesting and are interested in discussing their publications. Do not be afraid to reach out to professors you admire and ask other students about their research work. Embrace your inexperience as an opportunity to develop your skills and motivate your growth.

Katherine Wadhwani

Wadhwani, Katherine
Major: Psychology
Mentor: Caitlin Hudac, Psychiatry

Contact: kwad@uw.edu

Current research projects: 1.) UW’s Social Cognitive Development Lab 2.) Research Fellow at the UW’s Bernier Lab

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
My research at the UW’s Bernier Lab focusses on discovering potential biomarkers, or measurable physical indicators, of Autism Spectrum Disorders in EEG wave patterns. Identification of biomarkers is critical for early diagnosis and intervention.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I started interning at a psychology lab during winter quarter of my freshman year. With the goal of eventually pursuing a career in research, I was determined to get involved as soon as possible. I was able to get a position with advice and a kind recommendation from a friend of a friend of a friend. Networking may seem frustrating but it pays off!

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
The University of Washington is routinely ranked among the universities that receive the most federal funding for research. As a student here at the UW, you have the rare opportunity to participate in groundbreaking discoveries in virtually any field. Definitely an opportunity worth seizing!

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.

Eric Yang

Yang, Eric
Major: Bioengineering
Minor: Applied Mathematics
Mentor: Cole DeForest, Chemical Engineering
Contact: eyangs@uw.edu

Current research project: Logic-Degradable Nanogels for Environmentally Triggered Chemotherapeutic Delivery

 

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance:
Cancer has been one of the leading causes of death globally. Recent advances in cell and drug-based chemotherapeutics have shown significant promise in cancer treatment. However, specific deployment of these therapeutics to disease sites presents barriers in clinical translations. I am currently designing tumor-sensitive drug delivery vessels. I aim to develop a nanogel platform to deliver therapeutics with minimal side effects, thereby advancing progress in drug efficacy and disease therapeutics.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
Since entering the field of biomaterials, I have been intrigued by the versatility and importance of material design in disease therapeutics. With this interest, I began undergraduate research with Professoe Cole DeForest during my freshman year, working to explore the wide range of hydrogel applications from 3D cell culture to drug delivery. The social impact and intellectual challenge in research have fostered my interest to pursue graduate studies and industrial research roles post-graduation, in order to advance biotechnology in disease treatment. Ultimately, I hope to continue to grow professionally and personally as a leader through tackling health challenges in the world today, and undergraduate research has allowed me to do just that.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Research involvement has defined my undergraduate experience and my involvement in it has been the greatest decision I’ve made. After participating in research, I have been able to translate my knowledge I learned in the classroom directly into my research environment. Don’t be afraid to pursue these opportunities, and professors truly care about mentoring undergraduates!

Joey Zemke

Major: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

Mentor: Jennifer Nemhauser, Biology

Contact: jzemke@uw.edu

Current research project: 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!