Biochemistry major Alder Strange named the Junior Medalist!

Congratulations to Alder Strange who has been named the Junior Medalist for 2016-2017! For nearly 40 years, the University of Washington has celebrated the top undergraduate in each class by awarding them the President’s Medalist distinction. Recipients are selected by a committee for their high GPA, rigor of their classes and number of Honors courses. A biochemistry and musical theater double major, Alder also participates in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program. Through Honors, she’s taken advantage of several unique learning-beyond-the-classroom opportunities, including a natural history field study course and study abroad trip to Ecuador. Outside of class, you can catch Alder in one of her many co-curriculars: In the lab, as a researcher in Dr. Cole DeForest’s lab where she investigates the application of a new protein to the hydgrogel-based systems of drug delivery; on the soccer field, as a regular member of her pick-up soccer team; at her old elementary school with Professor Marjorie Olmstead, teaching math to students; and on stage, as part of the UW’s production of “Anything Goes”. With the long-term goal of being a pediatrician and researcher, she is excited to draw from her broad interests to find balance.

Biochemistry major Grace Wang named the Freshman Medalist!

Congratulations to Grace Wang who has been named the Freshman Medalist for the Academic Year 2016-2017! For nearly 40 years, the University of Washington has celebrated the top undergraduate in each class by awarding them the President’s Medalist distinction. Recipients are selected by a committee for their high GPA, rigor of their classes and number of Honors courses.  Grace is a pre-med biochemistry student with the goal of becoming a pediatrician. She recently joined a qualitative clinical research team at Seattle Children’s where along with her team, she is working on improving care coordination for medically complex cases through cloud-based care plans. Outside of research, Grace plays violin in chamber groups on campus and even started her own business teaching violin to children. An avid artist, she also volunteers as an illustrator for the undergraduate neuroscience journal, Grey Matters, where she is able to combine her love of art with her interest in scientific research. For now, her dedication to helping people is clear. She is a founding member of Synapse at the University of Washington, an organization that connects people with traumatic brain injuries to resources in the greater community, and volunteers as a healing music volunteer at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). In this role, she plays welcoming and soothing violin music in waiting rooms throughout SCCA.

Timothy Welsh selected as Churchill scholar

Congratulations to senior Timothy Welsh who has been selected as a Churchill Scholar!  Tim is one of only 15 US scholars selected for the prestigious Churchill scholarship. Selection is based on proven talent in research and ability to make significant contributions in the sciences, engineering or mathematics. The scholarship covers full tuition for one year of master’s study at Churchill College in the University of Cambridge; a stipend; travel costs; and a chance to apply for a $2,000 special research grant.

Welsh first worked in a lab as a high school student during a summer internship at the Oregon Health & Sciences University, and has been researching ever since, working in labs from the UW to Switzerland. In 2017, Welsh published a first-author paper, sharing the results of his summertime work in Dr. Walter Loveland’s nuclear chemistry lab at Oregon State University. Currently a member of Professor Stephen Stoll’s lab, Welsh’s research now focuses on developing techniques to determine the structure and changing shapes of proteins.

As a Churchill scholar, Welsh will complete a master’s degree in chemistry at Cambridge. There, Welsh will join the lab of Professor Tuomas Knowles — a leader in the field of microfluidic techniques within biophysics — to study properties of ribonucleoprotein (RNP) granule formation and propagation. Building on his past research experiences, Welsh plans to use microfluidic techniques to better understand how granules function within the cell, both when healthy and when mutated. The long-term goal of this research is to better understand how these mutations are related to neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS and Huntington’s.

After earning his master’s at Cambridge, he plans to return to the U.S. to pursue a Ph.D. with an emphasis in chemical biology. He hopes to one day educate the public about the importance of the microscopic biochemical world and act as a liaison between scientists and policy makers.

Three students win Washington Research Scholarships

Congratulations to Sedona Ewbank, Julia Joo, and Briana Lee for winning  Washington Research Scholarships!

Sedona is currently a senior majoring in Neurobiology and Biochemistry at the University of Washington. Most recently, Sedona’s interest in the relationship between the central nervous system and the gut microbiota has led her to join the Palmiter Laboratory in the Department of Biochemistry. In the Palmiter Laboratory, she is investigating whether a group of neurons in the hypothalamus which are known to drive feeding behavior, AgRP neurons, may also have a role in shaping the composition of the gut microbiota to promote energy homeostasis. This research project could provide insight into how humans regulate the microbiome in health and in disease. Following the completion of her bachelor’s degree, Sedona plans to attend graduate school in order to earn a Ph.D. and pursue a career in academic research.

Julia is a senior studying Biochemistry and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. She is exploring the mutator phenotype of cancer, which theorizes that mutation rates are elevated in cancer cells and thus lead to the accumulation of mutations that accelerate tumorigenesis. She is interested in identifying mutations in genes that can modulate mutation rates, as understanding their functions may contribute to novel approaches for cancer treatments by targeting the mutator phenotype. She is specifically investigating the methods by which Chromosome Transmission Factor (Ctf18) suppresses mutation rates in yeast deficient in DNA polymerase epsilon proofreading, potentially via novel mechanisms involving direct interaction with the polymerase.

Briana Lee is a senior undergraduate student majoring in both neurobiology and biochemistry. Briana is interested in how physics and chemistry can be applied to explain biological phenomenon. She has a passion for interdisciplinary studies and her current research involves processing neuroimaging data to analyze functional connectivity networks in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Functional networks are clusters of neurons within the brain that activate together when completing a certain task. These networks are not well characterized or understood and Briana is interested in quantifying how a specific functional network called the default mode network (DMN) changes during AD progression. She is also interested in how the DMN behaves differently across individuals, potentially providing insight to how environmental or demographic characteristics can affect an individual’s network capabilities.  After graduating from UW, she hopes to attend medical school, while continuing research in a neurobiology-related field.

Three students receive Levinson Emerging Scholar Awards

Congratulations to Hyeon-Jin Kim, Jie Yin and Kyle Curtis who have received the Levinson Emerging Scholar Award!

Hyeon-Jin Kim is a senior majoring in Applied Computational Mathematical Science – Biological and Life Sciences, biochemistry, and chemistry. In the spring quarter of his freshman year, he joined the Vaughan Group from Department of Chemistry to help enhance super resolution techniques for bioimaging. Hyeon-Jin is now working on a new collaboration between the Vaughan Group and the Kueh Group in the Department of Bioengineering. In this collaboration work, he hopes to develop a higher resolution epigenetic profiling method and use this method to study cell fate decisions in hematopoiesis. After he finishes his studies at UW, he plans to attend graduate school to pursue a doctorate in quantitative biology or related discipline.

Jie Yin is currently a senior at the University of Washington studying Biochemistry and Microbiology with Departmental Honors. Her curiosity about cancer biology motivated her to join the Lagunoff lab in her sophomore year. Intrigued by viral oncogenesis, Jie studies how Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) alters endothelial cells’ metabolism to maintain viral latency. After graduation, Jie plans to do translational research that focuses on cancer treatments prior to attending medical school.

Kyle Curtis is a senior at the University of Washington, majoring in chemistry and biochemistry with minors in mathematics and physics. He joined Dr. David Mack’s lab at the UW Institute of Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine in June of 2016. His current project focuses on generating a model enteric nervous system from patient derived stem cells to be able to test different drug treatment methods for the gut motility issues that plague many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. After graduation, Kyle intends to pursue medical school and hopes to continue conducting research in the medical field as a physician.


Top Scholars in Chemistry Announced

Each year the Department of Chemistry acknowledges our top students in the Honors Organic Chemistry series and the Physical Chemistry series.

The PC Cross award for the top students in Physical Chemistry has been awarded to Alexander Rachkov and Hyeon-Jin Kim.

The Hyp Dauben award for the top student in Honors Organic Chemistry has been awarded to Ravishankar Madhu.

Congratulations Alexander, Hyeon-Jin, and Ravishankar!


Jude Tunyi chosen as 2017 Commencement Gonfaloniere

Congratulations to Jude Tunyi who has been chosen as a 2017 Commencement Gonfaloniere.

Each year the various schools and colleges select students to lead all the degree candidates during the Commencement procession. These students are called gonfalonieres because they carry the school’s gonfalon, a banner that hangs down from a crosspiece and bears that school’s name and symbol.

The gonfaloniere was a prestigious post in Italian medieval and Renaissance communities. Our gonfalonieres have a record of outstanding achievement at the university.

Jude Tunyi is receiving a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. His family immigrated to the U.S. from Cameroon, Africa when he was 10. He came to the University of Washington to gain the best education so that he can go back and improve the health care conditions of his home country. This led him to get involved in research, science and medicine at UW, which led him to his current major, at the intersection of all three areas. One of his highlights while at UW was doing computational research using molecular simulations which allowed him to travel to different conferences in various cities to present his research and engage with professional scientists. His research allowed him to be the recipient of prestigious awards including the Mary Gates Research Scholarship, the Levinson Emerging Scholar, a McNair Scholar, and Department of Chemistry and Biology Awards. Upon graduation, Jude will perform research at National Institutes of Health as part of a post-bac program before heading to medical school to obtain an MD/PhD in Neuroscience. In the future, he hopes to be able to work clinically with disadvantaged populations as well as to be able to do research to advance the field of neuroscience.

2017 Awards for Distinguished Research in Chemistry & Biochemistry

Nineteen graduating seniors have been selected for the 2017 Awards for Distinguished Research in Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Congratulations to:

Nasser Alrashdi (PI: Boydston)

Kyla Berry (PI: Fu)

Athena Bollozos (PI: Davis)

Quynh Do (PI: Luscombe)

Alice Dong (PI: Kimelman)

Ashlee Evans (PI: Brockerhoff)

Zachary Gottschalk (PI: Ruohola-Baker)

Aengela Kim (PI: Ailion)

Ulri Lee (PI: Theberge)

Tongyu Lin (PI: Gu)

Sarah Parkhurst (PI: Vaughn)

Anika Patel (PI: Zalatan)

Alexander Rachkov (PI: Gamelin)

Zachary Ramey (PI: Turecek)

Bobby Shih (PI: Klevit)

Zoha Syed (PI: Goldberg)

Kahtana Tran (PI: Ruohola-Baker)

Po Ki Tse (PI: Schlenker)

Phillip Zhu (PI: Kwon)