Alshakim Nelson named MolES Director of Education

two men sitting at table looking at hydrogels
Alshakim Nelson

Alshakim Nelson, UW associate professor of chemistry, has been named Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute (MolES) Director of Education. Nelson replaces Christine Luscombe, professor of chemistry and materials science & engineering, who served in the role prior to her recent appointment as interim chair of the Materials Science & Engineering Department. Nelson will lead the Molecular Engineering (MolE) Ph.D. Program, an interdisciplinary graduate program housed in the UW Graduate School and administered by the Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute. Read More

UW MolE welcomes new Ph.D. cohort

screenshot of 2020 cohort talking on zoom
We are thrilled to welcome our newest cohort of molecular engineering (MolE) doctoral students to the University of Washington! Though this might not be the circumstances under which they envisioned starting graduate school, with some students even participating remotely from another state or country, we applaud our incoming students for their resilience and flexibility. Please join us in welcoming them to the UW and our molecular engineering community! Learn more about each student and their current research interests.

MolE Alum receives 2020 Graduate School Dissertation Award

Recent MolE program alum Dan Lee was awarded the 2020 Distinguished Dissertation Award in mathematics, physical sciences and engineering from the UW Graduate School for his dissertation, "Synthesis of novel backbone functional polymers." As a graduate student in Suzie Pun's lab, Dan developed easily synthesized, biocompatible hydrogels that can conduct electricity and could be used to engineer cardiac or neural tissues among other applications. In this profile from the UW Graduate School, Dan shares how he found opportunities to innovate as a scientists and molecular engineer when things didn't go according to plan.

Designing proteins that can sequence DNA

Sinduja Marx has long been interested in developing miniaturized, parallelized and personalized sequencing and diagnostics tools. As a molecular engineering grad student in the labs of physics professor Jens Gundlach, and Institute for Protein Design director David Baker, Marx is designing synthetic biological channels for nanopore DNA sequencing and molecular diagnostics. In this Q&A, Marx talks about her research and advice for prospective grad students.

Researchers identify rules for effectively regulating gene expression in bacteria

Jason Fontana, a molecular engineering Ph.D. student in the labs of chemical engineering professor James Carothers and chemistry professor Jesse Zalatan, has identified features of bacterial genes that impose strict requirements on CRISPR-Cas transcriptional activation tools. This work defines new strategies to effectively regulate gene expression in bacteria, bringing researchers closer to their goal of using bacteria to produce valuable biosynthetic products. Read this Q&A with Jesse Zalatan featured on the Science in Seattle blog.

Hail to the fiber king

Student jumping in graduation regalia
Hao Shen pioneered the creation of self-assembling protein fibers from scratch in the lab of UW Biochemistry professor David Baker. Hao was part of our first cohort of students and is the first student to receive a PhD in molecular engineering from the University of Washington. Read more about Hao's scientific journey!

Synthetic peptide can inhibit toxicity, aggregation of protein in Alzheimer's disease, researchers show

A team led by MolES faculty member and bioengineering Professor Valerie Daggett has developed synthetic peptides that target and inhibit the small, toxic protein aggregates that are thought to trigger Alzheimer's disease. Dylan Shea, a molecular engineering PhD student in the Daggett lab, was the lead author on a new paper describing these findings, published April 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.