Undergraduate Research Program

2021-22 Cohort

Jasmine Mae Alindayu

Major: Intended: Law, Societies, and Justice
Mentor: María Elena García (CHID), Tony Lucero (JSIS), Adam Warren (History), Lydia M. Heberling (English)

Contact: jasmpa@uw.edu

Current Research project: How an Authoritarian Leader Brought Me Closer to Dad

Jasmine Mae is a current junior at the University of Washington. Jasmine is interested in research pertaining to courts, law, and technology. Since her sophomore year, she has done projects on the Supreme Court of the Philippines. As a student at UW, Jasmine hopes to do more research on the relationship between law and technology. She plans to utilize that knowledge as a potential lawyer in the future to combat issues such as privacy. In her free time, Jasmine likes bouldering, hiking, watching movies, and talking about philosophy.

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
How a government reacts to its constituents’ needs warrants research. These entities that govern our lives and create order deserves scrutiny. As a Filipino-American, I wanted to gain more insight about my roots and my people. My previous projects focus on the Supreme Court of the Philippines (PSC), the government and the Filipino people. To understand the motivations behind the government and its people, I coded cases that were brought to the PSC. I analyzed the trends of which appeals were granted and which were found guilty. In the midst of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency, the PSC has acquitted more individuals charged with drug crimes than those found guilty. Despite Duterte advocating for harsher and more brute force against the war on drugs, the Supreme Court of the Philippines rules differently. Additionally, it seems that some of the Filipino population agree with some of Duterte’s tactics. Although the Philippines has a thorough history of imperialism and colonization, it seems to still be present within the country.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I did not expect myself to get into research when I came to UW. I initially thought that only STEM students could pursue research. However, after taking LSJ 367 with professor Rachel Cichowski, I became enthralled with research. I loved the whole process of research in the class, and I wanted to elaborate more on my final paper. So, I took a research seminar with the same professor and I’ve been pursuing projects ever since.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Any topic or interest deserves research and analysis! Whether it is in STEM or humanities, there is so much to explore and discover. Just imagine what you can find in your research and everything that you can learn from your projects!

Noor Bhatti

Noor Bhatti

Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Lena Vayndorf, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology

Contact: nbhatti@uw.edu

Current Research project: Alzheimer’s Protein Project


Noor Bhatti is a senior majoring in Biochemistry at UW. She is currently working on different projects under her mentor, Lena Vayndorf, as part of the Kaeberlein Lab in the UW Pathology Department. She works to identify and analyze aggregated proteins as a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. This and other projects she works on hopes to find potential treatments for delaying the symptoms and increasing the lifespan of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. She eventually wants to pursue a medical degree and continue to further her interest in neurodegenerative diseases.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I work on the organism C. elegans, which is a worm that you can see under a microscope. I manage different populations and strains of these worms, and help to extract and isolate proteins. We then analyze these proteins and check for the presence of soluble and insoluble protein concentrations in the Alzheimer’s model. In Alzheimer’s disease, the Beta-amyloid protein forms aggregates and thus causes neuron death in animals. We check for the difference of insoluble vs. soluble proteins in the worms, which we hope to discern the biochemical expression from which could potentially translate to treatments in human patients.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research in winter quarter of 2021. I used the URL database online and contacted a few research scientists that had most recently posted an opening for a position. I actually interviewed with a different research scientist than the one I work under now, as he ended up sending my application to someone else in the lab. I interviewed with my current mentor, and ended up getting the job as an undergraduate research assistant. I wanted to get involved in research as I had heard that it was useful for helping visualize the experiments and topic I was learning in my biochemistry courses. In a biochemistry lab, these techniques directly translated to what I was learning in class, and served to be incredibly helpful when studying different metabolic processes and protein folding, for example. I also liked the fact that we were researching a neurodegenerative disease, as I would like to apply what I have learned to my patients in the future. I have a great interest in medicine, and would like to be as knowledgeable about such prevalent diseases in our society.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would say that the biggest thing that overwhelmed me in terms of research was the fact that I kept feeling like I was getting rejected. I applied to a ton of different positions, and I ended up getting one that I didn’t originally apply for. I’m actually much happier now than I think I would be in any other position, as my mentor is very supportive, and I am frequently learning new techniques. I would say that resilience is key when attempting to find research, and sometimes you may end up working in a lab that you didn’t originally plan for. Research is incredibly dynamic, and multiple fields overlap in the sense that you will feel comfortable studying various topics no matter where you end up.

Nisha BK

Nisha BK

Major: Neuroscience
Mentor: Edward Kelly (School of Pharmacy)

Contact: nishasen@uw.edu

Current Research project: 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology (CKDu) disproportionately affects marginalized agricultural communities, specifically those in developing countries in Central America and South Asia where medical care is not readily available. It has become a public health crisis as the cause of CKDu is still a medical mystery. In tropical regions like Central America, and South Asia, CKDu is responsible for urinary-tract-related hospitalizations and deaths. Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a mycotoxin found in many foods such as cereal, coffee, wheat, soy, rice, beans and meat. The average OTA concentration on food of plant origin is from 0.1 to 100 ng per gram of food. According to previous animal studies, OTA causes nephrotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, genotoxicity, and carcinogenesis. In humans, OTA is associated with CKDu progression, but OTA-dependent nephrotoxicity needs to be studied more closely because OTA in foods is inevitable and chronic exposure is a major concern. To explain the mechanism of toxicity in renal disease, our lab uses kidney microphysiological systems (MPS) also known as “organ-on-chips.” MPS mimics in-vivo 3-D microenvironments as it is embedded with primary human proximal tubule epithelial cells (PTECs) and expresses drug-metabolizing enzymes and transporters.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I have been involved in undergraduate research since the summer before entering my freshmen year. I was placed in the Kelly Lab as a lab intern through UW GenOM ALVA. During high school, I took a Biomedical Sciences class where we worked with yeast culture, bacterial transformation, and other basic biomedical techniques. This class grew my passion for research as I was able to see the possibilities it provides for medical and technological advancement.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I have experience impostor syndrome especially in research spaces which has held me back from taking initiatives like wanting to apply for research conferences. I would advice students who are considering getting involved to not let research intimidate them, but allow their passion and curiosity for a subject to motivate them.

Madi Bruner

Madi Bruner

Major: Psychology
Mentor: Dr. Antony Abraham & Dr. Charles Chavkin – Pharmacology, Rebecca Esquenazi & Dr. Ione Fine – Psychology

Contact: mbruner7@uw.edu

Current research project: Alcohol use disorders: Using a gelatin consumption paradigm to explore kappa/mu opioid receptor compounds

Madison is an upcoming Senior, graduating in Spring 2022 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology. During her time at UW, she has been conducting research in pharmacology exploring various kappa and mu opioid receptor compounds to aid with the treatment of various addiction disorders. She has simultaneously been conducting psychological research involving visual prostheses to provide insight into the visual system—aiming to aid individuals who are visually disabled. She hopes to attend a graduate program and pursue a career as a clinical psychologist, utilizing her anthropology minor to provide care to underprivileged and underrepresented groups.

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance

My work through the department of pharmacology seeks to discover what mechanisms and chemical signaling is used with various kappa and mu opioid receptor compounds, and how we can manipulate the mechanisms of a specific drug to aid with withdrawal and associated symptoms of alcohol use disorder. My psychology lab aims to understand the brain mechanisms involved in the visual pathway in order to better understand how we can create and curate visual prostheses for blind or nearly blind individuals. The Fine Lab works with 20/20, sighted individuals, studying the degree of adaptation of their visual pathways over time, and seeks to apply this knowledge to the engineering of retinal prostheses.

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

Coming to UW, I knew that there were a plethora of research opportunities, and I always wanted to get involved, but was not sure how or when to do it. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I started more seriously planning my path to graduate school and building a cohesive list of extracurriculars, which resulted in starting two remote positions at two different labs. Upon my return to Seattle, I started working in my pharmacology lab and held a full time position in the Summer of 2021. Although obtaining these positions took time, effort, and lots of emails, my experiences at both the labs I participate in have been overwhelmingly positive, teaching me various skills integral to my career and path through academia.

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

I would tell all students to persevere and embrace rejection! Although the process may be tedious and disheartening at times, there are always labs looking for young, eager students, regardless of background, year, or major. Undergraduate research allows students to explore topics outside of their intended discipline, giving them a chance to obtain skills they may not otherwise have the opportunity to acquire. Students involved in research are making very real contributions to a large variety of fields, with the possibility of discovering new things and helping a wide range of issues and people. Don’t be shy, get involved!

Major: Biology (Intended)
Mentor: Chris Law, UW Biology

Contact: aburtner@uw.edu

Current research project:1) The evolution of mammalian body plans: a case study in squirrels and 2) Understanding the origin of bat flight: evolutionary modeling of mammal limb morphologies

Abby is a sophomore in the Interdisciplinary Honors department studying biology. She is interested in understanding the evolutionary and environmental processes that influence anatomy. She is currently working on a project quantifying the diversity of mammalian body plans and another project examining how bat flight may have evolved. Her research is based at the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, where you can find her measuring squirrel and bat skeletons. In her free time, Abby enjoys going on runs and bike rides around Seattle and hiking in the beautiful PNW.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
An overarching goal in biology is to understand how form and function are intertwined and serve as adaptations to different habitats. In mammals, the range of body plans from small, elongate weasels to large, robust elephants is one of the most striking patterns of phenotypic variation on a macroevolutionary scale. The diversity of body and limb shapes in mammals is not well studied, so my work quantifies body plans across the squirrel family, Sciuridae, using skeletal specimens. The squirrels serve as a perfect model group to study whether the different squirrel ecotypes’ (flying, ground, and tree) body and limb shapes reflect adaptations for their different lifestyles. These findings can then contribute to an understanding of mammalian body plan evolution as a whole. On a related note, within mammals, the bats have an especially striking body plan, as they are the only mammals capable of true flight. Due to a deficient fossil record, the evolution of bat flight is still not fully understood, but is hypothesized to be the result of an ancestral transition from gliding to flying. My project uses evolutionary modeling in the program R to test whether elongated bat forelimbs may have evolved from glider forelimbs. Both of these research projects contribute to an understanding of the major patterns of phenotypic variation, a central goal of evolutionary biology.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research during Winter quarter of my freshman year through an opening on the URP’s Undergraduate Research Database. I wanted to get involved with research to 1) gain a sense of community that would make UW feel a little smaller, 2) engage with biology, a subject I love, outside of the classroom, and 3) make the most out of my first-year pandemic experience. I’m happy to say being involved in research has justified all of these reasons and more. It’s been a very formative experience in my undergraduate years so far.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would advise them to not to be afraid of not knowing! It can be terrifying to go into a research experience not knowing what’s going on, but remember that everyone didn’t know what was going on at some point. Interest and commitment will get you a long ways, as undergraduate research is all about learning stuff you’re excited about!

Carson Butcher

Major: Cellular, Molecular, and Developmental Biology
Mentor: Cole DeForest, Chemical Engineering


Contact: chb13@uw.edu

Current research project: Near-Instantaneous, 4D Control of Protein Photoactivation in Hydrogel Biomaterials

Carson is a rising junior majoring in cellular, molecular, and developmental biology at the University of Washington. Since 2020, she has been working as a member of the DeForest group to near-instantaneously photoactivate proteins in hydrogels with the hopes of applying this technology to relevant problems in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. She is very excited to couple couple her passions for biology and scientific collaboration towards establishing biotechnological platforms to uplift the human experience, whether this be innovating more specific and streamlined technologies to treat cell-based disease or devising a means by which to speed up the wound-healing process. When not in the lab or in class, odds are Carson is out on a lengthy bike ride or climbing at SBP. If she’s not cycling or climbing, then she’s probably running, hiking, or at the Gear Garage.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Proteins are the key conductors of biochemical reactions in living systems and provide essential regulation of many bioprocesses across all scales of life. Thus, having user-defined control over protein activation in both time and 3D space (i.e. 4D) imparts the user great influence over bioprocesses such as cell differentiation (referring to the types of cells nascent cells grow up to be,) migration, and proliferation. My project focuses on exploiting light-based chemistries to activate proteins in a user-defined manner within hydrogels, water-swollen, polymeric biomaterials that more accurately mimic the native cell environment. This work has exciting ramifications in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and stem cell biology.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
After taking my first biology class in high school, I knew I had stumbled onto something fantastic. The cellular world fascinated me, and I continued to pursue my love of biology throughout high school by taking every remotely biology-related class I could take. My senior year of high school, I took a biology research class in which we learned the fundamentals of designing and executing experiments. I was challenged to apply what I learned in class towards towards investigating/solving problems with real-world applications, which convinced me that research was something I certainly wanted to pursue in college. The fall of my sophomore year, after scouring the URP database, meeting with a URP advisor, and sending several cold-emails, I discovered the DeForest team and met with Professor DeForest to discuss a possible opportunity. After meeting with him and other members of the lab to see if the project/lab environment was a good fit, I officially joined the team and the rest is history!


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t rush! Take your time scouring the myriad resources the UW has to offer and find a project that genuinely interests and inspires you, even if it is not directly in your major (I’m an MCD biology major working in a chemical/bioengineering lab.) I assure you, as long as you show enthusiasm and dedication to your project, you will be able to learn all the skills you need to thrive in a research setting. Moreover, you absolutely do not have to find a research position immediately after arriving on campus. Take some time to explore your interests and adjust to college life — you have more time than you think!

Jerry Cao

Jerry Cao SmilingMajor: Computer Science
Mentor: Shwetak Patel, Computer Science; Jennifer Mankoff, Computer Science

Contact: jcao22@uw.edu

Current research project: Wearable Cardiovascular Sensing using Pulse Transit Time

Jerry is a senior in Computer Science at the University of Washington. He is interested in research addressing healthcare and accessibility. Currently, his main focus is on applying optical sensors to non-invasively sense cardiovascular parameters such as arterial stiffness and blood pressure.

His other projects include developing a framework in Fusion 360 to generate optimized tactile maps, engineering a biosensor for cannabidiol, and analyzing patterns in the NIH’s COVID-19 Supply Chain Response.

Jerry also fosters a love for indoor farming and 3D-printing through his leadership in Project Indoor Farm (IF) and WOOF3D, respectively, which are two student groups at the University of Washington.


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

My current research project is to develop an unobtrusive device for individuals with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) that uses pulse transit time and pulse wave analysis to continuously monitor cardiovascular parameters such as arterial stiffness, blood pressure, and heart rate. We can get a visualization of a pulse wave using an optical sensor consisting of an LED that shines into an artery and a photodiode that measures the amount of reflected light. The fluctuation in reflected light shows the changes in blood volume at that specific point in the artery and when plotted in the time domain, creates a graph called a photoplethysmogram (PPG). With two PPGs, we can calculate pulse transit time (PTT), which is the time it takes for a pulse wave to travel an arbitrary distance. Prior work has shown PTT and subtle features extracted from a PPG to be correlated with parameters such as arterial stiffness and blood pressure. The resulting system can improve the lives of 1-3 million Americans with POTS by lessening the burden of monitoring their condition and predicting the onset of adverse symptoms—which include fainting, dizziness, and nausea—that result from the body’s inability to regulate vasodilation and heart rate.

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

You have nothing to lose! A lot of undergraduates are afraid of diving into research because they are afraid of messing up or not knowing enough, but professors understand this and can provide resources to help you learn. You shouldn’t be afraid to just go to their office hours, introduce yourself, and ask for advice!

Rahul Chaliparambil


Major: Neuroscience

Mentor: Jennifer Deem, UWMDI

Contact: rahulc99@uw.edu

Current research project: Determining the Role of Dopamine in Cold-Induced Hyperphagia in Mice using an AAV-Mediated saCAS9 Knockdown

Rahul (he/him) is a rising junior studying Neuroscience with a minor in Bioethics at the University of Washington. He is currently studying the role of dopamine in cold-induced hyperphagia in mice using an AAV-Mediated saCAS9 knockdown. He is excited to be pushing the future of understanding how diabetes functions in the nervous system.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
The hefty energy demands of heat production in the cold are met by a hyperphagic (increased food intake) response. Recent work has shown temperature can act as a feed forward signal to hunger-driving Agouti-related peptide (AgRP) neurons, which respond to acute cold sensation by increasing their activity, and this increase of activity is necessary for the hyperphagic response. Understanding the causal mechanisms by which this pathway occurs would help us understand more basic mechanisms of hyperphagia and how they may apply in diabetes responses.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I have always been interested in Alzheimer’s Disease and neuroscience from a young age. I got involved in undergraduate research during my senior year of high school. I was given an amazing opportunity by the Kaeberlein Lab to get involved in the research at such a young age, and over the last three years I have learned so much about myself and my passions in science. This year, I started working at the Schwartz Lab in diabetes research, which has given me an exciting new change of pace.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Put yourself out there and go for it! It’s never too early to get involved, and it may turn out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of your undergraduate career. Many professors and PIs are excited to get undergraduates involved in their projects as well. We are all so lucky to attend an amazing research 1 university, and there is research across the UW in almost every field imaginable, and there is a lab/project out there waiting for you!

Nuria Alina Chandra

Major: Computer Science
Mentor: Jennifer Rabbitts, Anesthesiology

Contact: nchand@uw.edu

Current research project: Predicting Surgical Outcomes with In-Hospital Function in Adolescents Undergoing Major Musculoskeletal Surgery

Nuria is a junior majoring in computer science and minoring in global health at the University of Washington. Nuria came to UW interested in pursuing a career in medicine or biochemical research. During her freshman and sophomore year, she was introduced to computer science and data analysis, and found a passion for using computational thinking to approach complex problems. Nuria is interested in the intersection between computer science and problems in healthcare and social systems. In her free time, Nuria enjoys reading, hiking, running, and printmaking.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Post-operative pain is a major source of distress for children, and is related to poor surgical outcomes. In the hospital, is measured with a numerical pain intensity scale (“On a scale of 0 – 10, how much pain are you in right now?”). However, pain-intensity is only one dimension of pain. Using pain-intensity to guide pain management has limitations. For example, some researchers found reliance on pain-intensity to guide medication prescription as a causative factor in the opioid epidemic. Recent guidelines suggest that accurate pain assessment must also include other dimensions of pain, such as functional ability. The goal of my project is to determine if an easily administrable in-hospital questionnaire about daily functioning could predict how well patients are doing when they return home from the hospital after major musculoskeletal surgery.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in research because I wanted to explore science beyond the classroom. When I first got to UW I reached out to several professors doing interesting research, but unfortunately none of them had openings for me. Then I met with a URP advisor who advised me to apply to the SCAN Design Innovations in Pain research internship, which resulted in my first undergraduate research opportunity.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
You might face some rejection, but don’t give up. Go to the Undergraduate Research Program instead!

Zoe Lu Chau

Mentor: James Lai, Department of Bioengineering; Kushang Patel, Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

Contact: zoechau@uw.edu

Current research project: DiagnosDisk for Rapid and Sensitive COVID-19 Detection; Utilizing Novel Trigger-based Ecological Momentary Assessments to Investigate Movement-evoked Pain in Older Adults with Knee Osteoarthritis

Zoe is a junior majoring in Bioengineering at the University of Washington. She is very interested in combining her interest in engineering and medicine to improve current healthcare practices. Since October of 2019, she has been working in the Lai Lab to develop exosome analysis techniques in application to diagnostics, in addition to developing a diagnostic device for COVID-19 detection. Since June of 2021, she has also been working in the Patel Lab to develop novel trigger-based Ecological Momentary Assessments to investigate movement-evoked pain in older adults with knee osteoarthritis. During her free time, Zoe enjoys learning new languages, crafting, and practicing the piano.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Lai Lab: Previously thought of as “molecular garbage bins”, exosomes are membrane-bound extracellular vesicles that have recently demonstrated rapid growth in research and hold significant clinical potential. In particular, exosomes have demonstrated broad potential in diagnostics due to their vast array of tissue-specific surface markers and molecular contents. I am currently working on developing a tool that exploits cascade reactions to characterize and isolate tissue-specific exosomes with the goal of expediting current exosome analysis techniques. Patel Lab: Frequently termed a “silent epidemic”, chronic pain influences 20.4% of US adults with increased prevalence within older adults. Chronic pain in the form of knee osteoarthritis (OA) is often linked to movement-evoked pain; however, the relationship between falls risk and movement-evoked pain within older adults is unclear. For this project, I aim to test the feasibility and acceptability of a pilot study that strengthens our current understanding of movement-evoked pain in older adults with knee OA through random and physical activity-triggered ecological momentary assessment surveys that will provide a translatable method of surveying movement-evoked pain that is independent of participant recall and/or bias.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
After hearing the exciting experiences of upperclassmen and learning about the significant relationship between research and medicine, I knew I wanted to dive into research as soon as I could after starting at the UW. During the summer before freshman year I attended a URP information session and, geared with this knowledge, began contacting the labs whose research I was interested in. After several attempts, I successfully joined the Lai Lab in the UW Department of Bioengineering. Later during my sophomore year, I joined the Patel Lab as a part of the Scan Design Foundation Innovations in Pain Research Summer Program.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone! While research may be intimidating, each attempt at approaching a lab of your interest will only get easier. UW hosts an incredible amount of diverse research opportunities, and I am certain that you will learn and develop new skills in the process of diving into research.

Daniel Chen

Major:Microbiology and Informatics
Mentor: Dr. James Heath, President and Professor at ISB, Distinguished Affiliate Professor at UW Bioengineering; Dr. Yapeng Su, Postdoctoral Fellow at Fred Hutch


Current research project: Integrated Multi-Omic Spatial Characterization of Therapeutic T-cell Dysfunction

Daniel Chen is a senior at the University of Washington majoring in Microbiology and Informatics. He began research in the Heath lab at ISB the summer of 2019 investigating melanoma subpopulations utilizing single-cell technologies, such as scRNA-seq and scATAC-seq. Currently, he uses the single-cell multi-omic paradigm to analyze COVID-19 peripheral blood mononuclear cells to identify the disease state effects of SARS-CoV-2 on patient immune systems. Recently, he has also joined the Greenberg and Gottardo labs at Fred Hutch investigating the pancreatic cancer tumor microenvironment through multi-omic measurements of single cells in a spatial context. After his undergraduate studies, Daniel intends to pursue an MD-PhD centered on applying biomedical informatic techniques onto human medical challenges. Outside of class and research he enjoys hiking in nature preserves, crocheting amigurumi animals, and playing the piano.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
My work entails describing how a person’s immune system functions to eradicate cancer or infections and what causes it to fail. This involves taking a person’s blood then taking many different types of biological measurements from each immune cell in their blood draw. Then I look for global similarities and differences between these measurements across all the cells and make 2D scatterplots to visualize these patterns. This scatterplot allows me to observe groups of similar cells that could represent specific subtypes of immune cells critical for immunity.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I first got involved in research in the August before my freshman year at the Mougous lab investigating the toxin secretion system of Mycobacterium abscessus as a surrogate model for Mycobacterium tuberculosis. I got involved by contacting the postdoctoral fellow via a posting from the URP research database and was interested in getting into research because I had a previous research experience in my pre-collegiate schooling that inspired me to deeply characterize different forms of life, and my interest in immunology led me to a microbiology lab.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Research is not a linear process, finding mentors and labs that capture your interest is difficult so don’t be afraid to try, try, and try again. Even once you’ve joined a lab you can always switch to another lab of your interest, and you’ll even have the experience to carry out independent work in that new lab. When a professor doesn’t reply don’t be afraid to reach out again or reach out to other members of their lab! The URP is also a great resource to ask for help to connect with resources or ask fellow students or professors if they know labs or PIs (principal investigators) that research the topic of your interest. You can explore different topics to find what you might enjoy analyzing via survey classes or just scrolling through different lab pages (you can just search a general topic and UW lab or you can start by looking at graduate programs/undergraduate majors and scrolling through the associated labs). When you’re conducting research always try to understand what you are doing, as in what is your role in the larger scheme of things (this helps you ground yourself in the stakes of your research and figure out whether you enjoy your environment). Always feel free to reach out to fellow undergraduate researchers for support and make sure you don’t feel taken advantage of by your research lab (if you do be sure to evaluate whether this is an environment that you feel supports you and is conductive to a positive research experience). Last of all, always ask for help and communicate whenever you feel any need as people will always support you!

Chloe Chiu

Major: Chemistry
Mentor: Dr. Swati Rane Levendovszky, Department of Radiology

Contact: cchiu820@uw.edu

Current research project: Understanding MRI and the Glymphatic System

Chloe is a fourth-year undergraduate student pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at the University of Washington and is expected to graduate in 2022. She is interested in eventually working in the medical field, specializing in either neurology or oncology. She is currently working in Dr. Rane Levendovszky’s lab learning more about MRI and assisting with clinical trials. When she’s not studying for her classes, she enjoys trying new restaurants, baking, and spending time with her family.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Dr. Rane Levendovszky’s lab focuses on developing new imaging approaches and improving MRI to better detect neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. My role in the lab is to assist with clinical trials by taking and analyzing MRI scans of the participants in order to learn more about the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I started doing undergraduate research during winter quarter of my freshman year. I wanted to explore different fields of research to help me gain insight in various career pathways since I was quite undecided at the time. With opportunity and timing, I was offered a spot in the McCoy Group, a theoretical and physical chemistry team studying quantum mechanics in chemical systems with the goal of exploring novel investigative tools. After my junior year, I decided that I wanted to pursue medicine and learn more about neurology, so I started looking into research labs I could join that would better fit my goals. After about a month of searching and applying to labs, I recently got a position in Dr. Rane Levendovszky’s lab, and I’m very excited to learn more about her research!


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
It is very common to be rejected by PIs before landing a spot in a research lab, so remember to start early, be persistent, and don’t give up! You should make a list of research labs you’re interested in, and then tailor your resume and cover letters to fit the position. Feel free to contact me if you need any advice since I recently went through the same process!

Rodrigo Gallardo

Rodrigo Gallardo sitting at a fountainMajor: Intended Major: Biology
Mentor:Brian Hayes, Kraig Abrams, Beverly Torok-Storb, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Contact: rodrig5@uw.edu

Current research project: Introducing gene edited plasmid DNA into ML3 cells to differentiate using cell marker antibodies

An upcoming senior at the University of Washington. Having research experiences during his high school career at the “Center for Infectious Disease Research” studying Malaria, and in the summer of his freshman year working under the Alva Genome Project where he had an opportunity to do research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, developing a new way of combating cancer by taking advantage of NK radiation resistance and eventually moving on to gene editing and transplanting plasmids into different cells cultures. He is still keeping an open mind to new research techniques and disciplines so he discover ways he can most effectively help underrepresented communities.

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Antibodies to cell marker proteins are powerful tools for organizing and defining cellular structures by identifying proteins that are unique to them. Multiple antibodies can also be employed in tandem to validate the proper location and specificity of the proteins under investigation. The subcellular location of a protein can assist researchers figure out what part (or roles) it plays in various cellular processes.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
Putting myself out there to research opportunities during high school has allowed me to network and find willing mentors who were able to guide me into the right direction. Without the support of mentors and peers I wouldn’t have found myself in a position in where I am surrounded the tools and resources I have grown so passionate about.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Live is full of uncertainty so be kind to yourself and allow yourself to be open minded and be vulnerable to gaining knowledge.

Kim Ha

Major: MCD Biology, Biochemistry
Mentors: Department of Pediatrics: Kathryn Shively, Michael Bamshad


Current research project: Investigating Variants in Isolated Birth Defects

Kim is a senior majoring in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Washington. She is interested in exploring the intersection between computational biology and genetics to develop models for understanding complex genetic diseases. Since June of 2018 she has been working in the Bamshad lab to identify and expand the spectrum of causal variants in a genetic disorder known as distal arthrogryposis. Currently, she is working with the Bamshad lab to validate variants that potentially cause various isolated birth defects. In her free time she enjoys reading webcomics, chatting with her friends, and watching variety shows.

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Birth defects are the most common cause of infant hospitalization and mortality in the first year of life. Some forms of birth defects are relatively mild and can be corrected with a small surgical procedure while other forms can be much more severe and complex to manage. These issues can be costly and severe for individuals starting a family. To prevent birth defects, it is important to know what causes them. However, our understanding of how birth defects are caused and why severity varies within the same type of defect is still limited. My role in this project is to visually screen the DNA sequences of individuals affected by isolated birth defects and confirm candidate variants observed in these individuals. This is a simple but important step to improve our understanding of the causes of birth defects and how we can prevent them.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved with research the summer before my first year of college through a program known as GenOM ALVA at the University of Washington. I find joy in discovering new information and patterns, and research seemed like the perfect route to do just that.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
If you have even the slightest interest, go for it! I believe a lot of people may feel hesitant about getting into research because they feel like they’re unprepared, but you don’t need to know everything before beginning a project. Mentors are very kind and patient people who are more than willing to help you.

Abi Heath

Major: American Ethnic Studies
Mentor: Dr. LaTaSha Levy, American Ethnic Studies; Prof. Brukab Sisay, American Ethnic Studies

Contact: heathao@uw.edu

Current research project: The School Desegregation Struggle in Seattle: Effects of Colorblind Legal Discourse

Abigail Heath is a senior at the University of Washington, where she is majoring in American Ethnic Studies with a concentration in African American Studies, Social and Political Analysis. She is interested in studying how race and power intersect within law. As both a Ronald McNair and Mary Gates Scholar, her research discusses the manifestation of segregated education through law.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
My study centers on the question, “How does the ‘colorblind’ approach in legal discourse exacerbate the issue of segregation of public schools?” Seattle has a notable history of racial segregation concerning residential discrimination that persists in its neighborhoods and schools. Segregation is often narrated as a result of private discrimination and demographic development. However, this story implies that modern segregation is not a product of government actions and unconstitutional policies, which removes the responsibility of the law to provide legal remedy for the continued existence of segregation. My research sheds light on why Seattle’s public schools remain racially divided, and how the law contributes to this legacy of segregation.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research my sophomore year. Research was pretty unfamiliar to me, but I had the support of my mentors to help me navigate and identify research opportunities. I was able to gain mentors by establishing relationships with my professors and joining programs such as the Ronald McNair program, which help underrepresented students engage in research. I wanted to get involved in research so I could explore subjects I was interested in outside of the classroom. Getting involved with research improved my self-confidence and leadership skills, broadened my view of society/communities not relegated to campus, and provided me opportunities to collaborate with different organizations.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Think of research as a way to explore your interests! I think it is important that students take the opportunity to engage in research because they can benefit by gaining new insight into their own interests, skills, and values.

Lindsay Hippe

Major: Linguistics and Speech & Hearing Sciences
Mentor: Naja Ferjan Ramírez (Department of Linguistics)


Current research project: Sibs and Bibs – Older siblings and infant vocabulary development

Lindsay is a junior in Linguistics and Speech & Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington. Growing up with four younger siblings, she has always been fascinated by early childhood development. She became interested in language acquisition, in particular, through her work in the Language Development and Processing Lab directed by Dr. Naja Ferjan Ramírez. These two experiences led to the development of her research project, Sibs and Bibs, for which she received the Mary Gates Research Scholarship. She hopes to one day work as a speech-language pathologist with a specialization in early intervention.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
The ability to communicate with others is a crucial component of succeeding throughout life. Thus, one’s linguistic environment must be conducive to their language acquisition process. To improve language outcomes, we must understand how differences in the linguistic environment affect language acquisition. Sibling presence is an example of a factor that may differ between varying environments.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I became involved in undergraduate research my sophomore year. I took an introductory linguistics course and loved it so much that I reached out to the professor via email. She offered me the opportunity to work in her lab for 499 credit, which I took gladly.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would advise a student who is considering undergraduate research involvement to be persistent and stay confident. Contacting a professor, especially as a new undergraduate, can be intimidating, but they are often quite happy to hear from students that have an interest in and desire to do research. Also, a rejection will likely happen but has nothing to do with one’s value as a student or person.

Shannon Hong

Major: Neuroscience
Mentor: Samira Moorjani, Physiology and Biophysics


Current research project: Assessing Changes in Connectivity Between the Motor Cortex and Spinal Cord After Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

Shannon is a junior majoring in Neuroscience while studying in the Honors Program. She is currently working in the Moorjani Lab, where she is investigating motor recovery from spinal cord injury in rats. Through her research, she hopes to explore the interdisciplinary nature of neuroscience and contribute innovative solutions to an injury that affects thousands of people every year. Outside of research, she enjoys sharing her passion for science with the UW community as secretary of the Neurobiology Club and reporter for The Daily.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
The Moorjani Lab develops neuromodulatory strategies to promote motor recovery after chronic spinal cord injury in adult rats. Although our therapies aim to strengthen corticospinal connections weakened by the injury, I wanted to explore this in a more quantitative context. For my project, I am assessing the strength of the connections between the motor cortex and spinal cord and how they are modulated by both injury and therapy. This is done through implanting cortical and spinal array wires in injured rats and using an electrophysiology system to conduct recording sessions with them.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
During my freshman year, I got involved in the Neurobiology Club Mentorship Program. My mentor at the time knew I was seeking research opportunities so he encouraged me to apply for the lab he was working at. I was fortunate enough to get the position and I have been working at the Moorjani Lab ever since! Although my interest in research stemmed from my desire to apply what I was learning in my coursework, I have gained various other skills in my time as a researcher, ranging from rodent handling to experimental design.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Although it may be tempting to accept the first research opportunity you hear back from, your work will be much more rewarding if you get involved in a field you are genuinely passionate about. It’s also okay if you have no prior experience in your field of interest—I definitely didn’t have any when I joined my lab but by asking questions and broadening my investigative mindset, my knowledge of neuroscience has expanded immensely. If you ever need help navigating projects you are interested in, please feel free to reach out to me or our wonderful URP staff!

Meelad Karami

Major: Microbiology
Mentor: Dr. Jason G. Smith


Current research project: Uncovering Determinants of Adenovirus Tissue Tropism

Meelad is a graduating senior studying Microbiology at the University of Washington. After working in bioengineering and a food microbiology lab his freshman year, he found an experience working in a virology lab at the Smith Lab within UW Medicine. He is currently engineering a chimeric mouse adenovirus with the aim of infecting intestinal stem cells. After graduation, Meelad plans to gain more clinical experience and apply to medical school.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Human adenoviruses infect and cause disease in multiple organ systems, and certain human AdV serotypes are associated with particular diseases. Because of this association, we believe there is a link between serotype and tissue tropism (which tissue a virus infects). Using mouse adenovirus combined with genetic engineering techniques, I am looking to see if a protein called fiber plays a central role in determining tissue tropism.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research my Sophomore year. After having some experiences within the life sciences, I decided I wanted to work with infectious pathogens. I reached out to a few professors within UW Medicine and got interviews a few days later which resulted in my current place of research.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Honestly, there’s a going to be a lot of rejection along the way. However, there are so many people and resources that will help you along the way. Many of these people want to see you succeed, so keep in close contact with them and reach out! Stay encouraged!!

Anika Lindley

Major: Psychology
Mentor: Dr. Sara Webb, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Contact: anikalin@uw.edu

Current research project:Aggression and Social Deficits Among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Anika is a senior at UW studying psychology and statistics. She is interested in behavioral psychology, but has not decided whether she would like to pursue a research career or a career in industrial psychology and consumer analysts. To explore her research interests, Anika joined the Psychology Honors Program and has been working in labs studying Autism, first at the University of Washington, and now at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. She hopes to understand influences and outcomes of certain behaviors exhibited by individuals with autism. In her free time, Anika enjoys running, cooking, and traveling.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is an early onset neurodevelopmental disorder that affects an estimated one in 59 children. ASD is highly heterogeneous, resulting in a range of socialization and communication impairments, restricted and repetitive behaviors, sensory deficits, and can be associated with intellectual disability. While aggression is not considered a defining feature of ASD, it is observed at elevated levels and is a clinically significant problem for many individuals with ASD. Challenges associated with aggression include increased risk of harm to self and others and reduced opportunities for social relationships and learning. Specifically, several studies have identified an association between aggression and impairments in communication and social skills among individuals with ASD, though research on the associations with aggression is limited. A link between aggression and impairments in social functioning warrants further research as the results may provide helpful insight towards optimizing treatment for individuals with ASD.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I became involved in research my sophomore year. I knew I wanted to experience research in a lab to understand whether that was something I wanted to pursue as a career once I graduate, and I was open to studying a range of topics. I ended up in a lab studying autism because it was under the general realm of behavioral psychology and the lab members were very welcoming and excited to help me learn.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
My advice to a student hoping to become involved in undergraduate research is to be open to range of topics that you may do your research on. Not only will it allow you to have an easier time finding a lab, but it might also give you the opportunity to find a topic you become very fascinated despite not really having considered before. For me, autism was not something I set out to research, but I have learned a tremendous amount from my research experience and am excited to continue to learn everything I can about autism and autism research. I also think that a good mentor can make or break a research experience more than the topic itself. I have been grateful enough to find an excellent mentor which has allowed me to learn more in the lab than I would have though possible.

Sophia Mar

Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Benjamin Land, Pharmacology

Contact: sophmar@uw.edu

Current research project: Alternative Behavioral Models of Chronic Pain

Sophia is a junior at the University of Washington studying Biochemistry. She has been working with Dr. Benjamin Land studying the intersection of cannabinoids and opioids in the context of pain and addiction. Her current research topic focuses on behavioral models of chronic pain. Sophia also serves on the Grey Matters Journal Leadership Team, an undergraduate neuroscience journal with the goal of bridging the gap between neuroscience and the general public. In the future, she plans to pursue a career in research and medicine, where she hopes to continue studying pain and addiction. In her free time, Sophia enjoys reading, cooking & baking, and spending time with family and friends.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Pain assessment methods predominantly focus on quantifying the direct pain experience. In chronic pain states, there is the added impact of pain on daily function and quality of life. My research aims to develop a model for observing the change in typical behaviors in chronic pain states. Beyond this project, the Land Lab looks at the intersection of opiates and cannabinoids in the realm of pain and addiction.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I realized I was interested in Pain Medicine after taking Intro to Neuroscience (Biol 130) and the Biology of Drugs (Biol 105) in spring of my freshman year. After reading a lot of papers on pain research, I found one by my current mentor Dr. Land. When I reached out to him about opportunities he had happened to be expanding the very project I’d read about. I joined and have been working in his lab since January 2021. The abundance of research opportunities at UW played a significant part in my decision to eventually attend this university. Research was an area I knew I wanted to pursue because it teaches an aspect of critical thinking not traditionally available in a classroom setting while also applying textbook concepts in real world settings. I hope this aspect of my undergraduate career will allow me to both deepen my understanding and contribute to the broader scientific community.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Find what you love! The sheer abundance of research opportunities at UW can be overwhelming. Take the time to explore what you like – just as you would for your major – and really dig into those topics. This can significantly improve the outcome of your future research experiences as your passion will motivate you. Professors and post-docs can are looking for students who are curious and driven. When you love the topic they’re researching, they can tell and are excited to take you on and train you.

Jessica Monroy

Major: Psychology
Mentor: Dr. Margaret Sibley, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Contact: jmonroy@uw.edu

Current research project: Attitudes and Engagement: The Use of AI Feedback and an Online Office for Treating ADHD Patients

Jessica is a sophomore at the University of Washington. She is hoping to major in psychology. Since December of 2020, she is a research assistant in an ADHD lab within Seattle Children’s Hospital. She has been working with Dr. Margaret Sibley to code therapy audios and help with surveys through RedCap. She is hoping to become involved with more research through the McNair program and psychology honors program.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Through the help of AI and modular therapy, patients would be able to receive proper treatment quicker and more efficiently without the risk of losing therapy quality. Treating symptoms of ADHD helps children and adolescents who are seen as “bad students” to develop proper techniques for studying, building relationships, and gaining autonomy.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved with my research lab in the winter quarter of my freshmen year.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Take your chance! If you feel that you have no research experience or don’t know where to start, don’t let that hold you back.

Matthew Nguyen

Major: Biology: MCD
Mentor: Takuma Uo, Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine

Contact: m2nguyen2@gmail.com

Current research project: Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer Therapy

Matthew is a junior majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. His research revolves around molecular biology, as he works in the Plymate Lab where he assists in trying to find a novel therapy to castration-resistant prostate cancer. Outside of research, Matthew enjoys playing and watching sports, as well as spending time with his friends.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
My research revolves around castration-resistant prostate cancer, which currently has a low survival rate. Our work involves researching a possible novel therapy to this late stage of prostate cancer. We are currently investigating the metabolic pathways of these CRPC cells to try and devise a possible therapy for patients diagnosed with CRPC.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
Near the end of my sophomore year, my desire to apply the material I learned in class to real world problems grew. Luckily for me, UW’s extensive research network provided me with the amazing opportunity to join the Plymate Lab, where I have been involved in prostate cancer research for the past 6 months. Getting involved with research has been the most rewarding experience so far in my undergraduate career, and I am extremely glad for URP and its many resources that allowed me to find an amazing opportunity to do so.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to professors that are involved in research that intrigues you! Applying your learning beyond the classroom is an amazing experience, and with UW’s extensive research network, there is no shortage of research opportunities for people of all academic disciplines.

Spencer Onstot

Major: Community Psychology/Society, Ethics & Human Behavior
Mentor: Dr. Deanna Kennedy, Associate Professor of Operations Management, School of Business

Contact: onstot2@uw.edu

Current research project: Prediction of Mental Model Shifts

Spencer is a graduating senior with degrees in Community Psychology and Society, Ethics & Human Behavior from the University of Washington, Bothell. Having gained research experience in a variety of disciplines, Spencer is working with NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) and the U.S. Army Office of Research, analyzing communication among astronaut training teams in HRP’s Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) campaigns. His research pertains to teamwork, communication, and making sure team members have a shared understanding of a task.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
My research partner, a Masters student in CSSE, created an AI that can predict whether team members are all on the same page before beginning a task. The only problem is that it has to be an expert to predict well, and we only have 6 currently coded tasks from the HERA campaigns. That is definitely not enough. This is where I come in: I am making an Agent-based Model that simulates the HERA tasks and feeds the AI model the output. Now, the AI can have 10,000+ tasks to use when predicting! This is essential for the prediction to be accurate and predicting whether everyone is on the same page before engaging in a task is relevant to classroom teams, research teams, construction teams, corporate teams, medical teams, or any other project team!



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved at the end of my freshman year. I was curious in research and one day randomly browsed the UW Bothell website to search for any open faculty research projects. Coming from a Psychological background, this project on Teamwork looked interesting. I then reached out to the Primary Investigator, Dr. Deanna Kennedy, and there was an open position still available.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
If a research topic looks interesting, most likely your major can relate to it in some way. I am a Psychology student, my advisor has a background in Operations Management, and I am working with a CSSE graduate student. These diverse backgrounds are actually helpful when engaging in research.

Therese Pacio

Major: Computer Science
Mentor: Fred Mast, PhD and John Aitchison, PhD ; Seattle Children’s Research Institute: Center for Global Infectious Disease

Contact: tpacio@uw.edu

Current research project: Modeling kinase networks involved in peroxisome biogenesis via single-cell colocalization and morphology metrics

Therese is a sophomore majoring in computer science with a track in computational biology. She is passionate about the intersection between computation and medicine, and she hopes to develop technology that elevates medical research and patient-care. She started her research in the Aitchison Lab at Seattle Children’s in the summer of 2020. Under the mentorship of Dr. Fred Mast, she develops python-based image analysis pipelines to quantitatively phenotype cells in microscopy images. She is particularly interested in this research because it utilizes her interests in computer vision to investigate biological dynamics. She looks forward to exploring her passion for computational biology and hopes to contribute to a safe and equitable integration of technology within patient-care.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Peroxisomes are essential for human-health and its dysfunction can lead to severe metabolic disorders. Understanding the biological networks that contribute to the formation of peroxisomes as well as its role in other pathologies is critical for developing new treatments. While a spatiotemporal model of peroxisome biogenesis has been characterized in yeast cells, the extent of conservation of this model in humans remains unknown. To address this problem, scientists in the Aitchison lab utilized high-throughput fluorescent microscopy techniques to generate large datasets consisting of multi-dimensional cell images that examined peroxisome state in the presence of certain kinase-inhibitors (cancer treatments). My research involves developing CLARITY, the computational image analysis pipeline to analyze these datasets. They consist of terabytes of data, so commercial software is not feasible for data analysis. Furthermore, a single image consists of hundreds of cells. Cells are highly dynamic, so two cells in the same treatment may not be in identical states. Most image analysis pipelines fail to quantify meaningful differences between cells in a single image because they compute only a single statistical value per image. CLARITY utilizes computer vision techniques to extract single-cell features from multi-channel and multi-dimensional images consisting of hundreds of cells. We have utilized CLARITY to measure differences in peroxisome colocalization and morphology in response to different kinase-inhibitors. We look forward to using this data to propose potential networks of kinases that may be involved in peroxisome biogenesis.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I started my undergraduate research experience through the UW GenOM ALVA program and the Seattle Children’s URM internship during the summer of 2020. At the time, I had just recently found a passion for computer science, so I was fairly new to computational research. Computer science is a large field with multitudes of applications, so I was unsure of how I wanted to contribute to the field. My research has allowed me to find my passion for computer vision and has shown me how my curriculum can directly serve my research interests! It has made me a much more engaged and excited student!


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would advise the student to open their mind to all kinds of research experiences! Research is a great way to find what you are passionate about and you never know what will really spark your interest!

Alex Huynh

Alex SmilingMajor: Engineering Undeclared
Mentor: Dr. Ethan Buhr, Ophthalmology

Contact: urp@uw.edu

Current research project: 3D Printed Assistive Pipetting Guides

Alex is a sophomore in Engineering at the University of Washington. Pursuing a major in bioengineering, he is interested in applying engineering principles to solve problems in medicine and research. He has developed a pipette guide that will assist lab techs in performing work that would otherwise be incredibly difficult for those with unsteady hands or low-acuity vision. In his off time Alex enjoys combat sports and cooking in equal measure.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Electrophoresis is an essential lab procedure, commonly used for genotyping and distinguishing sources of DNA. The most difficult step in the procedure requires pipetting fluid into small wells in a thin gel assay. Those with unsteady hands or low acuity vision could easily puncture the gel or miss the wells entirely, making this procedure tedious and time-consuming for all but the most steady-handed. This guide directs pipettes to the correct location and depth every time, making performing electrophoresis much more fast and accessible for hard of sight researchers.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I searched for a lab position on the URP database where I could apply my skills and I was interested in the research they were doing. I found this position early in my freshman fall quarter, and I’ve loved it here.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Be open minded about the positions you apply to, keeping in mind that there will be opportunities to gain more responsibilities once you get in.

Shreya Patel

Shreya smiling for the cameraMajor: Biology: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental
Mentor: Dr. Ragadeepthi Tunduguru

Contact: spatel97@uw.edu

Current research project: Investigating Targeted Antibody Treatment for use in Insulin-Resistance Diabetes

Shreya Patel is a graduating senior majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology with a minor in Global Health. Having worked both at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and at a start-up biotechnology research company, she has experience in both academia and industry research projects. She has developed her wet lab skills through her work on three different projects and looks forward to being able to share some of her knowledge with you!


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I work on screening targeted antibodies to inhibit complexes relevant in insulin-resistance T2 Diabetes. Insulin-resistance diabetes is difficult because the solution is often to prescribe more insulin which is both expensive and also leads to increased resistance over time-it is not a sustainable solution. This work is important because if the antibody works to rescue insulin function, this therapeutic could be used either in conjunction with other solutions or stand-alone to combat insulin-resistance in Type 2 Diabetes.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
After joining my first research lab freshman year, I realized that undergraduate research is a great hands-on learning experience that I wanted to pursue further. I continued on to do a research internship two consecutive summers, working full-time on 2 different projects. I initially got involved because I thought research would be a great addition to my resume, but I stayed because I saw the massive benefits of taking my classroom knowledge and applying it to real-life problems.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Joining undergraduate research is a partnership you are creating with your PI. Be sure to not only make sure that you have the capacity to help our your PI and the project to the best of your ability, but also communicate frequently with your PI. They want you to learn as much as possible and support your goals but they cannot do that if you do not communicate what you hope to gain from this research experience.

Gillian Pereira

Major:Materials Science and Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Miqin Zhang (Materials Science and Engineering)


Current research project: CHA Cancer Drug Screening Platform

Gillian is an senior this year, graduating in Spring 2022 with a Bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering. She is currently assisting a graduate student in Dr. Zhang’s lab doing research on creating chitosan-hyaluronic acid scaffolds to be used as a cancer drug screening platform. In the past, she was also involved in a project related to studying how COVID-19 affects pharmacies all over Washington. For her personal interests, Gillian enjoys going to concerts, hiking, and playing the piano.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
The goal of this research project is to find an optimal platform for cancer high-throughput drug screening using Glioblastoma (GBM) cell lines. Glioblastoma is a type of brain tumor that stems from glial cells in the brain. It is one of the most common and aggressive brain tumors in adults, and the median survival time is 15 months after diagnosis. There is a need to develop a new tool to model GBM tumor progression and mimic in-vivo tumor microenvironments to be used as a drug screening platform.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research by emailing my PI a cover letter and my resume. We met over Zoom and discussed my interest in her research before I was accepted into her research group as an undergraduate assistant. I really wanted to get involved in undergraduate research to apply concepts and knowledge that I have learned in school outside of the classroom. I am also considering going to graduate school, so being involved in undergraduate research helps me cement my interests. Another reason why I got involved in undergraduate research is to carry out a senior research project, which is a graduation requirement for my major.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be afraid to start cold emailing! Make sure you have your resume and cover letter ready and then start emailing them to professors that you are interested in doing research with. You might not always get a response, but that is perfectly normal. All it takes is one reply to get your foot in the door! Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to current undergraduates or alum from the lab you are interested in. Talking to someone who has done research there can give you a look into what kinds of tasks you might be doing, and if this particular lab will be a good fit for you.

Daniel Piacitelli

Daniel SmilingMajor: Astronomy & Physics: Comprehensive
Mentor:Matthew McQuinn (Astronomy)

Contact: piacid4@uw.edu

Current research project: Empirically motivated CGM line intensity estimates

I’m a fourth-year student studying Astronomy and Physics. My passion for space started young and, while it was consistent, it was not very developed until I started at the University of Washington. I began my Freshman year Fall quarter by taking a pre-astronomy major seminar (Pre-MAP) which paired me with my mentor, Iryna Butsky. We began researching simulated Jellyfish galaxies and, from there, my love for space and, more specifically, extragalactic astronomy flourished. I continued research with Iryna for 2 years surveying the theoretical Circumgalactic Medium (CGM) and the Cosmic Baryon Cycle using cosmological simulations. Now, I am conducting research with Professor Matthew McQuinn working to estimate CGM emission in various metal spectral lines. Beyond space, I love baking and hiking.

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
The CGM is a large diffuse cloud of gas that flows out and back into a galaxy. Currently, the CGM is poorly misunderstood, and learning more about it can give us insight into galactic evolution. Since the CGM is so diffuse, absorption studies (which focus on observing the light that the CGM) have been the main way astronomers have studied the CGM. In my current project, we are working to study the light that the CGM will emit which represents a whole new regime to learn more about the CGM!


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
The Pre-MAP program in the Fall quarter of my Freshman year. I got involved because I had an interest in Astronomy and I thought that this would be the best way to see if I truly wanted to go into a career in this field.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Be proactive! Look into your major if they have any programs like the Astronomy Department has. Email professors or talk to advisors to see if they can point you in the right direction.

Anika Rajput

Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Alison Paquette, Developmental Biology and Regenerative Medicine

Contact: anikar@uw.edu


Current research project: Analyzing Gene Expression Data to Study the Prenatal Environment

Anika Rajput is a rising sophomore studying biochemistry and hoping to minor in environmental health as well. She has been working with Dr. Paquette since the winter of her freshman year learning about R, a statistical analysis program, and how to use it to analyze RNA-sequencing data. She analyzes RNA sequencing data to understand how prenatal environment influences infant and child health outcomes. Outside of being a URL and conducting research, Anika loves to play tennis, bike, and make puzzles.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Pregnancy health is important for both the mother and infant to have a good quality of life. The prenatal environment sets the stage for infants’ health after birth and later-life health. Therefore, it is important to study the factors that potentially affect the prenatal environment and how it correlates to health outcomes in order to prepare and prevent potential complication.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
In high school, I worked at Northwest Mothers Milk Bank. It is a non-profit organization that collects donated mother’s milk, pasteurizes it, and redistributes it to families in need and hospitals. In this environment, I learned about the importance of mother’s milk for an infant’s health and well-being. That lead me to further exploring child development and the factors that affect it. After looking on the Seattle Children’s website, I came across Dr. Paquette’s research on the prenatal environment near the beginning of my freshman year. I decided to reach out to her to ask if there were any undergraduate opportunities in her lab and I started working remotely with her shortly after.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Research is a fun way to step out of your comfort zone and study a field of interest in depth. You do not need to have prior experience or knowledge in that field. As long as you have a learning attitude, there are many potential pathways you can go down when finding and conducting research.


Kira Rosenlind

Major: Business Administration
Mentor: Sioban Keel, UWMC Hematology


Current research projects:Genetic Studies on Marrow Failure and Related Disorders (UWMC), Investigating Genetic Mutations in Patients With Immune Thrombocytopenia (Fred Hutch)

Kira Rosenlind is a current sophomore at the University of Washington in the Foster School of Business. She is a part of the interdisciplinary and departmental honors program. Since May 2021 she has worked in the UW Medicine Hematology department as a research coordinator. She works with the DNA from blood and bone marrow samples to track inherited bone marrow failure and related disorders, such as leukemia, in families. She is also working on a project through Fred Hutch studying the possible inheritance of immune thrombocytopenia in adults. She is also doing an independent research project studying the effects of calorie information on college students in eating disorder recovery. Outside of research Kira loves running and being with friends.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Many autoimmune disorders can be passed down through families in genes. Some of the research I’m doing is tracking those genes to see which of those genes are responsible for causing different autoimmune disorders. One of the important parts of my job is to create a pedigree for the different families in the study to see how the genes affect different members.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in research during the winter quarter of my freshman year. I knew I wanted to be involved in research but I wasn’t sure what kind of research. I knew I was interested in pursuing medicine so I started reaching out to different labs until I found the perfect fit.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Take risks! I was so scared that I wouldn’t be old enough or qualified enough to get a research position. If you see a research opportunity that you think is cool, go for it.

Joey Schafer

Major: Computer Science
Mentor: Kate Starbird, Human-Centered Design and Engineering; Emma Spiro, iSchool; Jevin West, iSchool

Contact: schaferj@uw.edu

Current research projects: Impact of Spotlighting on Misinformation Spreaders

Joey Schafer is a senior studying Computer Science and Ethics at the University of Washington. Working with the Center for an Informed Public, he has worked on multiple projects to understand and combat the spread of disinformation, around both the 2020 US elections and the coronavirus vaccine. He hopes to continue studying these issues in graduate school.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I work on understanding communities built around falsehoods, so that we can have a more informed, accurate society which is better equipped to maintain a functioning democracy as well as deal with political, environmental, and other crises from a perspective grounded in reality.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in research starting in January of 2020, my sophomore year, by reaching out to Dr. Kate Starbird about getting involved in her lab. I felt that this research was essential to our society, and wanted to do my part to help. I started by working in a Directed Research Group that she advised and that was ran by one of her PhD students, Andrew Beers. Since then, I’ve continued working with them, as well as many other CIP members, on a variety of both qualitative and quantitative projects, all of which I have greatly enjoyed.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would recommend joining a research group or project that you feel very passionate about. While research is incredibly fun and has been one of the most fulfilling parts of my UW experience, it’s important to find a lab doing work you enjoy and think is important, with people that you can work well with. I would also recommend looking to see what options for compensation (such as funding or course credit) your department or the department of the lab you’re working in offer. There are many options, and these can help to make doing research more of an option for many students.

Rachel Shi

Major: Bioengineering
Mentor: Buddy Ratner (Bioengineering & Chemical Engineering), Runbang Tang (Bioengineering)

Contact: rxshi@uw.edu

Current research projects: Urea-Permeable Polymeric Membrane for Selective Nanofiltration in Hemodialysis

Rachel is a senior (c/o 2022) majoring in Bioengineering with an option in Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering. After becoming interested in applying engineering techniques in medical contexts in her first two years, she began working with Dr. Ratner in his Biomaterials lab. Her work in his lab has been centered on developing membranes for nanofiltration in dialysis using a variety of synthesis methods. She is also involved with student groups that develop diagnostic devices and hopes to see her projects to commercialization.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
In the U.S., 750,000 people are affected by end-stage renal disease, the final stage of chronic kidney disease. These individuals require treatment via dialysis or kidney replacement for survival, with the former being significantly more widespread. My work aims to address the inconveniences and shortcomings of hemodialysis; in particular, I am developing thin films capable of filtering toxins such as urea with high specificity. This would also facilitate the creation of a portable hemodialysis device that would resolve many of the limitations posed to dialysis patients currently.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
Before university, I had a biology instructor (Dr. Emily Jacobs-Palmer) who was passionate about making science more accessible and digestible for everyone. Under her guidance, I conducted my first (admittedly very low-budget) independent research project, using DNA detection techniques to determine the spread of invasive species around the Puget Sound. This experience was my first introduction to research and I began emailing PIs the summer before freshman year despite my inexperience. I joined a psychiatry and neuroscience lab where I was able to develop and hone many of the core research skills that I carried over to my current bioengineering lab.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be afraid to reach out and learn more about a lab’s research! This can be asking other students, TAs, and professors or browsing departmental websites and skimming papers. Know that research can take many different forms: it can be with a PI, mostly student-led, part of a larger initiative, independent, etc. Research can also take place in many disciplines; you don’t have to confine yourself to a lab in your major! There are many interdisciplinary projects out there that may align with your skills and interests.

Megana Shivakumar

Major: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Mentor: Dr. Paul Drain, Global Health and Medicine

Contact: megana19@uw.edu

Current research projects: Risk Factors and Outcomes for Hepatitis B among Individuals with HIV

Megana is a junior in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of Washington. She is interested in the risk factors that lead to the spread of infectious diseases, which led to her first research position. She was a Research Assistant at the Madison Clinic (an HIV/AIDS clinic) in Harborview Medical Center and enjoyed working with patients and in the lab. These experiences encouraged her to reach out to her current mentor to continue her interest in this topic. Megana plans to attend medical school, and continue her work in this field.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
My current research is looking at people with both Hepatitis B and HIV, both sexually transmitted diseases, and utilizing the statistical program R to look at the different outcomes of people that have these diseases. This data was collected in a clinic in South Africa from 2013 to 2017, and participants were enrolled into this study if they had HIV, and then were later tested to see if they had Hepatitis B as well. The primary purpose of this work is to understand the prevalence of Hepatitis B within HIV infected individuals, and identify specific factors that may lead to worse outcomes. One of the reasons I believe this work is important is because there is a specific medication, Tenofovir, that can be used to treat both Hepatitis B and HIV, so it’s important to identify factors that make having both diseases more common, in order to target this medication towards the groups that may be at higher risk.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I first got involved with research the summer after my freshman year at a clinic in Harborview Medical Center. I was able to connect with the manager of the clinic through another colleague and express my interest in the mission of the clinic. I loved working with patients and in the lab, and was able to gain experiences in both clinical and wet lab research.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would encourage students to cold email professors if they are interested in the work that their lab is doing! By reaching out and expressing your enthusiasm, they are likely to work with you to find you a position in their lab, or suggest someone else who may have similar work. In addition, stay persistent! You may have to send out many emails before you get a response, but it only takes one reply to make a connection.


Brandon Sim

Major: Biochemistry and Physics (intended)
Mentor: Sharona Gordon (Physiology and Biophysics) and Paul Wiggins (Physics)


Current research projects: Development and Application of tmFRET Methods for Probing Protein Structure and Dynamics (Gordon Lab), Theoretical/Computational Investigation of DNA Replication Dynamics (Wiggins Lab)

Brandon Sim is a third-year student at the University of Washington pursuing degrees in Biochemistry and Physics (and maybe Mathematics!). They are currently working on fluorescence spectroscopy methods in Sharona Gordon’s lab (in collaboration with Bill Zagotta’s lab) in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, and theoretical modeling of DNA replication in Paul Wiggins’ lab in the Department of Physics. Brandon intends to pursue a career in research, education, or both. They are also committed to advancing equity and justice in academia and in society. Their hobbies include running, reading, soccer and playing the piano!


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
The activity of biomolecules called proteins underlies nearly every physiological process, from cell signaling and biological electricity to sensation and movement. Proteins can do all this because of their ability to exist in multiple shapes, called conformations, which have varying chemical/physical properties. What conformations are more thermodynamically favorable than others? How fast does a protein transition between conformations? What happens to the shape of the protein during these transitions? In the Gordon Lab, I work on methods for figuring out the answers to these questions using fluorophores – molecules that light up! When bacterial cells divide, they pass all of their genetic information on to two daughter cells. Each healthy cell contains enough genetic information (DNA) for one cell, so how does it end up with enough DNA for two daughter cells? Then, how do those daughter cells eventually end up with enough DNA to pass to their own daughter cells? The answer is a process called DNA replication, which is the job of a group of proteins called the replisome that travels along DNA and makes a copy. In the Wiggins Lab, I work on mathematically/physically modeling this process with their aim of determining the mechanisms that lead to the DNA replication process slowing down.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I applied to work in the Gordon Lab in winter quarter of my first year because, at that time, I wanted to become a doctor and I heard that research experience would look good on my resume for med school (I was also heavily influenced by a deep childhood fascination with science and the natural world which I had buried in pursuit of a medical career). However, I quickly fell in love with the surprises, challenges, failure, learning, personal growth, community, and joy that can come with taking your curiosity into your own hands and doing research. In fact, after spending almost two years working on research projects in the Gordon Lab and joining the Wiggins Lab as well, I’ve discovered that I love it way too much to do pretty much anything else!


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Find a mentor who respects you and cares about you beyond just your research productivity, and whose mentoring style meets your needs. Make sure that you are comfortable in your research environment, and you feel like you can be yourself. You might think “it’s my first research position so I just have to take what I can get”, but nothing will turn you off from research faster than an unwelcoming research environment, or a mentor who sees you merely as free labor and treats you accordingly.

Erik Solhaug

Major: Physics: Comprehensive; Astronomy
Mentor: Matthew McQuinn (Department of Astronomy)


Current research projects: Predicting Emission from the Extended Gaseous Halos Around Galaxies

Erik is a graduating senior double-majoring in Comprehensive Physics and Astronomy. Since the fall of 2020, he has worked on two research projects with professors Matthew McQuinn and Jessica Werk, both of which pertain to the circumgalactic medium – a diffuse gaseous halo surrounding galaxies. Through these projects, he has gained experience in observational and theoretical astrophysics. He is currently using computer simulations to predict the faint emission of light from these large gas halos and to further understand the way they affect important processes inside galaxies. Some of his personal interests include running, hiking, golfing and generally spending time outdoors.

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance

The circumgalactic medium is an extended gaseous ‘atmosphere’ surrounding galaxies. These halos work as reservoirs feeding gas into the galaxies and essentially drives many of the important processes that happen inside the galaxies, such as star formation. This almost creates a sort of galactic ‘weather’ system that, just like normal weather, can be complicated and difficult to understand. The circumgalactic medium is in a cycle of feedback processes where for example supernova explosions (massive stars collapsing and blowing up) push gas back into the circumgalactic medium. This creates a cycle of recycled gas, and understanding how the circumgalactic medium is involved in this cycle can provide answers to several of the questions that pertains to how galaxies evolve and produce the particles they do.


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

At the end of the Spring quarter of 2020, I decided to reach out to a professor in the Astronomy Department about doing research. She had been one of the presenters in a series of presentations that were part of a research seminar for undergraduate Physics students. The topic really captured my interest and when I was accepted as a Physics and Astronomy major, I reached out to her about doing research. I started working with her research group the next fall, and although classes and meetings were still online I really enjoyed applying what I had learned in class to real-world data. It was especially motivating to get insight into how an astronomer/physicist does research and get actual hands-on experience – I got to use data from the Hubble Space Telescope! Since my schedule allowed for the extra time-commitment, I eventually reached out to another professor who does research on the same topic and started doing research with him as well. Today, I am still working with both professors and really enjoying this.


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

Figure out what interests you, talk to professors about their research interests and do not hesitate to ask them during office hours, after class or by email if they have the capacity to support another undergraduate in research. Also, it is helpful to talk to upperclassmen or other students who are involved in research and hear how they reached out for opportunities in your department. Do not stress about getting involved in research and take your time – it is supposed to be fun!


Pavithra Sundaravaradan

Pavithra in front of a cherry blossomMajor: Microbiology
Mentor: Elia Tait Wojno, Immunology

Contact: pavitsun@uw.edu

Current research project: How the Notch Signaling Pathway Regulates Basophil Gene Regulation and Function in the Helminth-Infected Intestine

Pavithra is a junior majoring in Microbiology at the University of Washington. Her research interests include utilizing bioinformatics and wet lab techniques to better understand and tackle human disease. She is currently working on investigating organismal metabolic pathways of iron regulation during helminth infection following Type 2 immune response. She is also applying bioinformatics to analyze NGS data to better understand the Notch signaling pathway and its effects on basophil responses. In her free time, Pavithra enjoys baking, cooking, dancing, and knitting. She is also very passionate about promoting and advocating for women’s empowerment and equality.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
My work is in the field of parasite immunology. I am currently working on two projects focusing on the regulation of immune responses and inflammation during helminth or parasitic worm infection. My first project is investigating iron metabolism during non-chronic helminth infection. Iron is very important for processes such as oxygen transport, DNA synthesis, and respiration. While chronic helminth infection is associated with iron anemia or low iron due to excess blood loss, not much is known about iron metabolism during nonchronic helminth infection. I am also applying bioinformatics to analyze RNA expression data to better understand the notch signaling pathway’s effects on basophil gene regulation and function in the intestines of helminth infected mice. This research will help inform the development of techniques aimed at decreasing the public health burden of parasitic worm infection.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
During my senior year of high school, I volunteered at a genomics lab at UC Davis, where I got real hands-on experience with wet-lab research. This experience fostered my interest in research and led me to pursue similar experiences at UW.

In the second quarter of my freshman year, I made an appointment to see the microbiology advisor to learn more about requirements for joining the major and possibilities for graduate school. During this conversation, I also mentioned my struggles with finding research opportunities in the microbiology department and my interest in immunology. Following our meeting, my advisor put me in touch with Dr. Wojno to see how I could get involved. After learning more about the work done at the lab and meeting with Dr.Wojno, I was offered my position.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Never give up! If you ever get rejected from a lab or a research opportunity, use it as motivation to keep trying. Also, make use of the great resources that URP offers to students interested in research to explore and find projects that excite you!

Rachel Suominen

Major: International Studies; Business Administration
Mentor: Jackson School of International Studies


Current research project: Written Into History? Solastalgia and Emotion Under the Western Gaze

Rachel is a senior majoring in International Studies and Business Administration. She became involved in research at the University of Washington through the Disability Inclusive Development Initiative (DIDI), where she did legal research on intersectionality, disability, indigeneity, and human rights in Winter and Spring of 2021. This past summer, she participated in the Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities, where she did research on the neologism “solastalgia,” which refers to pain derived from the inability to find solace or comfort in one’s home in the face of the impacts of climate change. Currently, Rachel is attempting to develop a senior thesis in the environmental humanities using literature as a lens of analysis for climate change.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
The DIDI project became an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, arguing for advanced protections for the rights of indigenous children with disabilities in the case against the State of Peru. Decisions made by the IACtHR influence the protection of human rights throughout Latin America. For my research on solastalgia and climate change, I explored the academic conceptualization and usage of solastalgia to understand how language documents and preserves certain aspects of history. The clinical, pathologized language around solastalgia creates a sterile version of history as it relates to the emotions surrounding climate change and home. I then examined this pathologization through the lens of Western science and academia in an attempt to explore how Western ideas of science and theory influence how ‘subjective’ ideas like emotion are treated within the ‘objective’ arena of academic research.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research Winter of my junior year through a Jackson School Global Research Group (GRG) that was working with DIDI. This specific group involved an application process (which I almost didn’t complete out of fear that I wasn’t qualified enough). Fortunately, I did submit the application and worked with this group until June of that year. I got involved in research because I wanted the opportunity to use what I was learning in class, and to have the chance to delve deep into specific ideas that interested me. I then continued in research through SIAH, which gave me the opportunity to work with fellow undergraduates and develop a research project of my own.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t talk yourself out of it. If you think you’re not knowledgeable enough – you are. If you think you don’t have the skills – you do, or your mentors can teach you. If you think it’s too late in your academic career to get started – it never is. If you think the field you’re interested in doesn’t “do research” – it does. Being curious about something and attempting to fulfill that curiosity by answering questions (even unsuccessfully) is research. Find a program, professor, or mentor who will support you in that curiosity, and then pursue it!

Selina Teng

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Mentor: Igor Novosselov, Mechanical Engineering



Current research project: Evaluation of Micro-well Collector for Capture and Analysis of Bacteriophage MS2

Selina is currently a senior studying Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Mechatronics. She is interested in developing robust models for personal exposure to anthropogenic air pollution, airborne viruses, wildfire smoke, and other harmful aerosols, and she hopes to continue this work through graduate school in Mechanical Engineering. Since January 2020, she has been a part of Novosselov Research Group, which conducts a broad range of research in aerosol science, fluid dynamics, and nonthermal plasma.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I am testing a microfluidic aerosol collector that collect bioaerosols and prepares samples for assay rapidly and automatically. This minimizes the user’s exposure to potentially harmful aerosols when conducting experiments. The aerosol collection applies impaction physics: where conventional filter acts like a porous net to catch particles above a certain diameter, an impactor directs particle flow through a narrow channel with a sharp bend. Particles above a certain inertia cannot make the turn and collide with the surface, while air molecules flow freely. The advantage here is that the collection surface can then be washed out using a microfluidic volume of liquid, significantly reducing the size and power constraints of the device.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research in the summer of my freshman year by reaching out to a professor whose research caught my attention in a UW news article, Orlando Baiocchi. I had a really positive experience working with my group, and it helped me develop an understanding of how computational and data-driven models of complex physical phenomena can be developed. I later realized that my interests lie more towards mechanical design and technology development, which pushed me to join Novosselov Research Group.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Be thoughtful and intentional about what you’re getting out of your experience. Are you learning transferable skills? Is your research mentor providing you with 1:1 support and giving you the tools you need to become a better scientist, or are you just doing grunt work for your lab? I was lucky enough to be in two research groups with incredibly supportive PIs who are deeply invested in their students’ success. However, not all professors have the bandwidth to invest enough time working with their undergraduates, and not every research group will be a good culture fit for your learning style. If you feel like your goals don’t align well with those of your group, it’s never too late to re-evaluate and explore something else.

Valerie Tsai

Major: Neuroscience and MCD Biology
Mentor: Sam Golden, Biological Structure

Contact: v881@uw.edu

Current research project: Visualizing and interpreting brain-wide cellular activation dynamics

Valerie is a graduating senior majoring in Neuroscience and MCD Biology interested in exploring the interdisciplinarity of science, particularly science, and how its applications can shape the way we see the world around us and ourselves. She believes research and its results, as something that has consequence to everyone, should be human-centered: researchers should focus on helping people and never forget that everything we do is for people. As such, she firmly believes that research should be accessible to everyone and has been committed to making her research and other advancements in the field of neuroscience approachable to the general public through her work as editor-in-chief of the undergraduate neuroscience journal, Grey Matters.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Much of behavioral neuroscience research has been composed of research targeted to specific brain regions that capture neural activity on a cellular level but fail to grasp brain-wide patterns of neural activity or focus on global scale activity, which comes at the cost of single-cell resolution. My project with the Golden Lab explores ways to visualize brain wide activation data on a cellular level, which would allow researchers to understand the neurological basis of behavior in a way not limited to our preconceptions and labels for brain regions, but rather through activity-based associations between parts of the brain.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
Research was an avenue I knew I wanted to pursue since starting at UW because I’ve always wanted to apply class concepts in the real world and be able to learn the interdisciplinary connections made when those concepts are put in practice. Through the pursuit of research, I hope to not only expand my own knowledge, I hope to do so in a meaningful way that can contribute positively to the scientific community and the lives of others. I got involved with research the summer after my freshman year by applying to a variety of positions listed in the URP database. I was lucky enough to get an interview for a position with a lab I stayed with for three years, before I applied to another lab, the Golden Lab, which I felt had research that really and truly resonated with my passions, and I was lucky enough to get it! I juggled time between the two labs for a while, before ultimately realizing I was really putting all my energy into my work for the Golden Lab. I finished my project for the other lab, and presented on it at last year’s Undergraduate Research Symposium before parting ways to fully devote my time and energy to the Golden


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
My advice to anyone considering getting involved in research is to go for it! Send those emails, talk to those professors or TAs about their research, and just keep reaching out. As long as you keep trying you will definitely find a lab or project that fits you and your interests, and oftentimes, what PIs or post-docs are looking for is that tenacity or dedication to their research– you need to show them that you’re making an effort, whether it’s by reading their published papers or showing up to an interview with questions about their current projects. Something I’ve also learned the hard way is that there will always be room for growth. When you’re first starting in a lab, you’re not going to be an expert, and you might be the person with the least knowledge in the room, but don’t let your pride hold you back from embracing that. Ask all your questions about what you don’t know or understand, and just be ready to learn and absorb as much as you can.

Bill Young

Major: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology & Psychology
Mentor: Pathology – Daniel Promislow, Benjamin Harrison


Current research project:Impact of Neuronal Tau on Response to Traumatic Brain Injury

Don’t be shy, there are so many labs on campus and so many opportunities for students to get involved in research! Reach out to as many as you can and find the one that fits you best!

Isabelle Young

Major: Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology
Mentor: Lisa Maves, Seattle Children’s Research Hospital – UW medicine department of pediatrics

Contact: iyoung42@uw.edu

Current research project: Identifying New Roles for the Proteasome Pathway in Congenital Heart Defects

Isabelle is a graduating senior majoring in MCD biology focusing in genetics. Having gained research experience in human developmental biology during her Summer internship at Seattle Children’s Research Hospital, Isabelle has discovered her interests in studying the genetics of mental health disorders and developing better treatments.

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Currently I am using zebrafish to further study how different genes play a factor in developmental heart disorders


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I really liked one of my professor’s teaching style and had developed a relationship with them during office hours. At the end of the quarter I reached out and asked if I could work on a project that aligned with the subjects that his lab was already studying. He was excited to have me as a part of his lab and talk about possible projects that interested me.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be afraid to walk away from something that no longer interests you. A lot of the faculty understand that we’re all trying to find what we want to study and are very supportive of that process.


Joia Zhang

Major: Statistics
Mentor: Dr. Sat Gupta (Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of North Carolina at Greensboro), Dr. Sadia Khalil (Department of Statistics, Lahore College for Women University)

Contact: joiaz@uw.edu

Current research project: Mitigating Respondent Lack of Trust in Quantitative RRT Models

Joia is a junior majoring in statistics at the University of Washington. Her current research focuses on improving respondent privacy and addressing respondent lack of trust in surveys containing sensitive questions, specifically in quantitative randomized response techniques (RRT). It’s the age of information, and it’s not only about what data is gathered, but how data is gathered. Joia’s research on quantitative RRT models centers around developing a survey technique that gathers data with both model efficiency and respondent privacy. Her other research includes applying topological data analysis techniques to investigate the relationship between political parties and economic factors in US states. She enjoys sharing her research at conferences and symposiums as well as advocating for undergraduate research for all undergraduates in all fields. On campus, you can find her as the vice president of the Statistics and Probability Association (SPA). Joia is from Ithaca, New York and loves to read and watch film adaptations of books in her spare time.

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Surveys collect data that form the basis of decisions made at the individual, company, and federal level. Out of all mediums of surveying, face-to-face surveys yield the highest response rates. However, face-to-face surveys are susceptible to a phenomenon called social desirability bias (SDB). SDB is people’s tendency to give surveyors socially favorable answers, rather than true ones. As such, consequences of SDB include low response rate or worse, untruthful responding. A way to circumvent SDB is randomized response techniques (RRT). RRT models allow respondents to provide scrambled responses that prevent the surveyor from ever knowing any true answers, while the ability to estimate the sensitive trait is maintained. An issue that arises in RRT models, however, is: what if respondents don’t trust the RRT model? My research addresses this question of how to mitigate respondent lack of trust in an improved model that produces better data with higher respondent privacy.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
When I came to UW, I had never done research, but I was fascinated by the idea of it and the creation of new knowledge. Initially, I was unsure when or how to start. I’ve learned that it’s never too early to start pursuing undergraduate research opportunities and that the search can be challenging but it builds your communication and self advocacy skills, and is very rewarding. As a sophomore, I applied to the Statistics and Probability Association Directed Reading Program (SPA-DRP) which is a quarterly program that pairs an undergraduate with a graduate student to delve into a topic and apply what is learned in a research project (more information and how to apply here https://spa-drp.github.io/). I had an enriching experience doing a project on topological data analysis with my mentor Jerry Wei, statistics Ph.D. student. I got the opportunity to present my findings at the Undergraduate Research Symposium organized by the Undergraduate Research Program. This was my first research experience and my first symposium. It inspired me to keep pursuing research and the following summer, I partook in my first full-time undergraduate research experience in an NSF funded REU program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) on Complex Data Analysis using Statistical and Machine Learning Tools. This immersive summer program invited guest speakers, hosted workshops, and held panels on topics ranging from graduate school to coding languages to diversity in academia. I was able to research randomized response techniques with my mentors Dr. Sat Gupta (UNCG) and Dr. Sadia Khalil (Lahore College for Women University). I have enjoyed presenting my research in conferences and the manuscript is in progress. My REU experience has been rich, enriching, and inspiring. REUs accept freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and there are also programs for seniors in their summer after graduation. My REU application process began with going to the NSF website that lists programs by academic field (https://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/reu_search.jsp). I used a spreadsheet to keep track of the programs I applied to, so that I did not miss a step: contact references, confirmation of submitted reference letters, statement of purpose draft and final draft, additional application materials, and finally submission of the application.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Join an RSO in your academic field of interest! For me, that was UW’s Statistics and Probability Association (SPA). You get to meet an amazing group of people who you share common interests with. You get immersed into the academic community, meeting fellow undergraduates, graduate students, and even faculty members. You also get immersed in the information loop. You join email lists, hear of important updates in the department, and you learn of opportunities—potentially undergraduate research opportunities. Joining an RSO in your field of interest is a great way to meet new people, bond over your shared interests, and gain footing in your discipline.