Amgen Scholars announced

Three Biochemistry students  have been named Amgen Scholars! Congratulations  Chinoso Opara, Guillermo Romano, and Denis Smirnov.

Chinonso Opara is a rising junior in the department of Biochemistry at the University of Washington. This summer, he is working in the lab of Dr. William Atkins on developing a novel method of quantifying the concentration of quantum dots, using various biophysical techniques. Quantum dots are small nanoparticles with the capability of fluorescing under ultraviolet light, and have several applications ranging from enhancing LED lighting to cellular imaging and drug delivery.


Guillermo Romano is a rising senior at the University of Washington, working on a double degree in Public Health and Biochemistry. This summer he is working in the Maly lab to synthesize a small molecule capable of profiling Sarcoma Family Kinases.



Denis Smirnov is a rising junior at the University of Washington studying biochemistry and neurobiology. He is working with Dr. Chatterjee in the Department of Chemistry to investigate the ubiquitin-like protein degradation pathway in Mycobacerium tuberculosis, through mechanistic studies of the ligase enzyme PafA. Current research is aimed at working to determine the substrate scope of PafA by using novel chemical tools to monitor enzyme activity.



Goldwater Scholar

Congratulations to Michael Bocek who has has won the prestigious Goldwater scholarship.  Michael is a Biochemistry major at the University of Washington. He has done research in the department of Bioengineering  involving the design and evaluation of  polymer-based vectors to deliver therapeutic genes to neurons.  After graduation Michael plans to pursue a Ph.D in bioengineering, focusing on engineering bio-materials.  Afterwards, he hopes to go on to a scientific research career, either in academia or industry.


We are also happy to announce that Evan Boyle has been named as an honorable mention for the Goldwater Scholarship.  Evan is a Biochemistry and Microbiology double major, and works in the Gelb lab.  His lab work is aimed at characterizing a class of enzymes implicated in asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.  Evan wishes to counter the burgeoning wave of chronic conditions by pinpointing promising therapeutic targets in genetic technology.  After his undergraduate career, Evan will pursue a Ph.D in Genetics, and aspires to make a difference in medical outcomes for patients worldwide and to enhance the impact that biomedical research has on people’s lives.


Congratulation also go to Derek Nhan who has also been named an honorable mention for the Goldwater Scholarship.  Derek  is a junior majoring in Neurobiology and Biochemistry. He is currently performing research in Dr. Kyra Becker’s neurology lab focused on understanding the molecular and behavioral basis behind the systemic immune response to stroke. Currently, his project involves monitoring the consequences of post-stroke infection in an animal model and its impact on neurological outcome. After graduation, Derek plans to pursue a career in medical research and become involved in the development of targeted approaches for treatment of neurological disorders.

Three Chemistry/Biochemistry majors win Washington Research Foundation Fellowships

Michael Choi, Benjamin Horst, and Kwang Kim have each won a Washington Research Foundation Fellowship.

Michael Choi has been investigating embryonic stem cells and stem cell maintenance in the Ruohola-Baker laboratory, focusing on the metabolism of embryonic stem cells and how it relates to their function. Stem cells play a critical role in development and disease; by better understanding how these cells function in both normal and pathological conditions, scientists can learn how to control, treat, and cure disorders that arise.


Benjamin Horst works in the Keller Chemistry group where he has worked on refining a new fabrication technique for the formation of vesicles. He will be starting a new project aimed at determining how the miscibility temperature of lipid membranes varies with the composition as the surface pressure is held constant.




Kwang Seob Kim’s project with Dr. Ludo Max aims to better understand the central nervous system functioning in speech and non-speech movements, as well as the neural mechanisms underlying stuttering in particular.  The goal of his project is to design a protocol/procedure to quantify the ability of the speech sensorimotor systems to learn a completely novel sensorimotor mapping. This protocol has the potential to not only enhance our knowledge of motor learning, but to also improve the rehabilitation of individuals with movement disorders.


Congratulations Michael, Benjamin and Kwang Seob!

UW student selected for Rhodes Scholarship

Cameron Turtle, who has conducted research in the Keller Chemistry group and in Bioengineering, has been selected for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. The scholarship provides full financial support for scholars to study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Cameron is majoring in Bioengineering. His research in the Keller Chemistry group involved studying the 2-dimensional phase separation in lipid membranes. Cameron’s project was to incorporate charged lipids into the membranes and study the membranes’ miscibility transition temperatures.
Among his various accolades, Cameron is a Mary Gates scholar as well as a Goldwater scholar. He co-founded Bioengineers Without Borders and is also founder and CEO of Point of Care Technologies.

Congratulations Cameron!

President’s Medalist

Quyen Nguyen, the transfer President’s Medalist, entered the UW from Seattle Central Community College.

Nguyen’s parents still live in Vietnam, while she and her older brother are in the U.S. She came to the U.S. just four years ago. “My father was unable to finish his degree in physics and my mother had to stop working as a physician due to financial difficulties. Wishing me to have a bright future, my parents decided to let me study abroad,” she says.

Nguyen is planning a career as a pharmacist, so she will be continuing her education this fall in the PharmD degree program at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

President’s Medalist

Jacob T. Bobman, the four-year President’s Medalist, came to the UW from Mercer Island High School. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and will graduate summa cum laude with a BA Biochemistry and BS Mathematics.

Bobman is a Washington State Scholar, for which he received a four-year full tuition scholarship. He has worked in the laboratory of a UW professor since 2009, conducting neuroscience research. He also has been writing an honors master’s thesis on cryptography research. He has been a volunteer at Nova High School, an alternative school in Seattle for students who have not had success in a traditional classroom setting.

Bobman will begin medical school later this summer. He is planning a career in academic medicine, combining his interests in patient care and research.

Goldwater Scholars

Two undergraduate researchers in Chemistry, Jane Hung and Cameron Turtle, have received the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship.

Jane Hung  has been working in the laboratory of  Xiaosong Li  studying a fundamental process that could play an important role in the development of more efficient light-emitting diodes  and photovoltaic devices. “The insight I have acquired into the materials of the future is absolutely priceless, and my goal now is to help turn clean technology into global power,” she says.

Cameron Turtle was half of the “Undergraduate Dream Team” in the Keller Biophysics lab  during the summer of 2009.   The  team measured miscibility transition temperatures in synthetic lipid membranes that contained charged lipids. Cameron measured the temperatures at which those membranes became heterogeneous, such that regions enhanced in particular lipids appeared by fluorescence microscopy.  Cameron’s results have been important for two communities: researchers interested in how “rafts” might arise in cell membranes and researchers interested in quantifying intermolecular interaction energies.

Congratulations to Jane and Cameron!

2011-2012 Departmental Scholarship Applications Available

The 2011-2012 Chemistry Departmental Scholarship Applications are now available and can be found on our web site.

Completed applications are due April 1, 2011. The Department of Chemistry is proud to offer the following scholarships and book awards to our Chemistry and Biochemistry majors:

Earl W. Davie Scholarship

This endowed scholarship provides support to outstanding undergraduate students majoring in Chemistry or Biochemistry.  Earl W. Davie earned his B.S. in Chemistry and PhD in Biochemistry from the UW and served as chair of UW Biochemistry from 1975 to 1984. He also co-founded ZymoGenetics.  One scholarship of $1000 will be awarded.
Donald J. Hanahan Scholarship

This endowed scholarship provides support to outstanding undergraduate students majoring in Chemistry or Biochemistry. Professor Earl W. Davie established this scholarship in honor of his UW research mentor Donald J. Hanahan.  One scholarship of $1000 will be awarded.

H. K. Benson Scholarship

This endowed scholarship provides financial assistance for tuition costs for autumn quarter 2010. The scholarship is in honor of the former chair of the once-combined Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. One scholarship of $1000 will be awarded.

Rex J. And Ruth C. Robinson Scholarship Fund In Chemistry

This endowed scholarship provides financial assistance for tuition costs for autumn quarter 2010. Three awards of $1000 will be distributed. The scholarship is in honor of a former professor in the Department of Chemistry.

Zahlia Jencks Rowe Scholarship

This endowed scholarship provides financial assistance for tuition costs for autumn quarter 2010. Two $1000 awards will be distributed.

Berkelhammer Book Award

This prize is financed by the Gerald and Shelia Berkelhammer Endowed Fund and provides $50 toward the purchase of books. Recipients can be in any year of their college education and must be chemistry or biochemistry majors.

Berkelhammer Senior Book Award

This prize is financed by the Gerald and Shelia Berkelhammer Endowed Fund and provides $150 toward the purchase of books. Recipients must be chemistry or biochemistry seniors.