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MolES 2019-20 Annual Report

February 5, 2021

The Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute annual report for the 2019-20 academic year is now available. Learn about the work being done at MolES and the MAF by our faculty, students, and staff! The report features a snapshot of our institute, research highlights, faculty awards, our work to address racism in STEM, graduating students, and [...]

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Shuai Zhang recognized in NNCI image contest

December 28, 2020

MSE research assistant professor Shuai Zhang was recognized for his submission to the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) Image Contest 2020. This annual contest, called “Plenty of Beauty at the Bottom,” celebrates the beauty of the micro and nanoscale. Images featured were produced at one of the 16 NNCI sites during the past year. Zhang’s image, “Protein Chess [...]

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Alex Carr
Characterizing microbial communities in the human gut and soil to understand their roles in health, disease, and the environment

December 16, 2020

Alex Carr is a 3rd year molecular engineering Ph.D. student co-advised by UW affiliated investigators Drs. Sean Gibbons and Nitin Baliga at the Institute for Systems Biology. We recently spoke with Carr about his research and his experience in the Molecular Engineering (MolE) Ph.D. program. How did you come to pursue a Ph.D. in molecular [...]

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Break it up: Polymer derived from material in shrimp’s shells could deliver anti-cancer drugs to tumor sites

November 3, 2020

A University of Washington team led by Miqin Zhang, a MolES faculty member and professor of materials science and engineering, has developed a nanoparticle-based drug delivery system that can ferry a potent anti-cancer drug through the bloodstream safely. Their nanoparticle is derived from chitin, a natural and organic polymer that, among other things, makes up the outer shells of shrimp. [...]

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Alshakim Nelson Named MolES Director of Education

November 2, 2020

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 [...]

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How to build a network of pharmaceutical biofactories

October 15, 2020

Advances in synthetic biology and biomaterials are opening up exciting prospects for the distributed manufacturing of drugs, food products, and other commodities. [...]

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Lab-Made ‘Miniproteins’ Could Block the Coronavirus from Infecting Cells

October 13, 2020

Researchers at the Institute for Protein Design are developing synthetic peptides that mimic human antibodies for COVID-19 which could be cheaper and easier to produce. [...]

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All together now: Experiments with twisted 2D materials catch electrons behaving collectively

October 7, 2020

In a paper published Sept. 14 in the journal Nature Physics, a team led by the University of Washington reports that carefully constructed stacks of graphene — a 2D form of carbon — can exhibit highly correlated electron properties. The team also found evidence that this type of collective behavior likely relates to the emergence of exotic magnetic states. [...]

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The heat is on for building 3D artificial organ tissues

October 1, 2020

Bioengineering professor Kelly Stevens and colleagues created a new tool to control gene expression in 3D-printed genetically-engineering cells using heat. [...]

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UW MolE welcomes new Ph.D. cohort

October 1, 2020

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. [...]

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From clean energy postdoc to microscopy and nanomechanical testing expert

September 16, 2020

Micah Glaz, Molecular Analysis Facility staff scientist and nanomechanical testing expert, came to the UW as a postdoc before joining the MAF team to take advantage of the opportunity to teach more while staying close to the forefront of scientific research. Read our Q&A with Micah! [...]

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UW receives NSF funds for investment in an interdisciplinary quantum future

September 1, 2020

The National Science Foundation has awarded $3 million to establish a NSF Research Traineeship at the University of Washington for graduate students in quantum information science and technology. The new traineeship — known as Accelerating Quantum-Enabled Technologies, or AQET — will make the UW one of just “a handful” of universities with a formal, interdisciplinary QIST curriculum. MolES faculty member Kai-Mei Fu will serve as the director of AQET. [...]

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“Experiences of Black STEM in the Ivory” event examines inequities, calls for action

August 18, 2020

Five institutions, including MolES, came together to organize a virtual conference on racial inequity in STEM. At the event, students, faculty, and staff shared their perspectives on the barriers facing Black scholars, and inspired participants to take action. [...]

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MolES faculty receive NSF EAGER award to develop new SARS-CoV-2 antibody test

July 30, 2020

James Carothers, Dan Evans Career Development Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Jesse Zalatan, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, have been awarded a National Science Foundation EAGER grant to develop a new type of SARS-Cov-2 antibody test. Carothers and Zalatan will receive $300,000 over a one-year period from funds made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. [...]

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MolE Alum receives 2020 Graduate School Dissertation Award

July 24, 2020

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. [...]

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MolES Associate Director Christine Luscombe elected to Washington State Academy of Sciences

July 17, 2020

Seven University of Washington scientists including Christine Luscombe, professor of chemistry and of materials science and engineering, have been elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences (WSAS). By sharing their expertise with decision makers in Washington State, WSAS members help to solve some of the most vexing problems facing the state. [...]

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Developing rapid COVID-19 tests for the home and clinic

June 23, 2020

At the onset of the #COVID-19 pandemic, MolES faculty member Paul Yager, a UW professor of bioengineering, knew a rapid and accurate test would be needed to screen patients for the new coronavirus. He immediately set to work adapting his point-of-care testing research to developing an at-home test for the new virus. Read more about how the Yager lab is developing easy, fast and accurate COVID-19 tests to be used at home and in the clinic. [...]

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Meeting the need for COVID-19 test kits: Pivoting from Seattle Flu Study and developing new rapid tests

June 23, 2020

MolES faculty member and bioengineering professor Barry Lutz, in partnership with Dr. Matthew Thompson, a UW professor of family medicine and global health, is pioneering at home test kits for the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more about how the Lutz lab is developing new ways to rapidly test for COVID-19. [...]

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COVID-19 Research at MolES

June 3, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MolES faculty have pivoted their research to address the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. They are leveraging molecular engineering approaches and tools to develop improved diagnostics, targeted treatment strategies, and a better understanding of the virus. We highlight a few of these projects here. [...]

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Designing proteins that can sequence DNA

May 14, 2020

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. [...]

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