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! [...]


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. [...]


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. [...]


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. [...]


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. [...]


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. [...]


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. [...]


Seeing is believing: using electron microscopy to probe teeny tiny structures

May 4, 2020

We recently spoke with Ellen Lavoie, Molecular Analysis Facility staff scientist and electron microscopy expert, about how she came to be a TEM expert and what she loves about her work. Read our Q&A with Ellen! [...]


Pacific oysters in the Salish Sea may not contain as many microplastics as previously thought

May 1, 2020

Using advanced instrumentation in the Molecular Analysis Facility, researchers in the lab of MolES faculty member and materials science & engineering professor Christine Luscombe have discovered that Salish Sea oysters may not contain as many microplastic contaminants as previously thought. [...]


Researchers identify rules for effectively regulating gene expression in bacteria

April 16, 2020

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. [...]


New system outcompetes traditional biofactories with on-demand, remote chemical production | The Daily

February 27, 2020

A team was led by Dr. Alshakim Nelson, an assistant professor of chemistry at the UW, and Dr. Hal Alper, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Texas, developed a new method that combines the bioactivity of microbes and a 3D-printed, synthetic hydrogel — a water-based gel structure — to create desired chemical compounds. The products can vary from pharmaceuticals to nutraceuticals, alluding to the vast potential for this new finding. [...]


Fall 2019 molecular engineering Ph.D. graduates

February 13, 2020

Since launching the molecular engineering Ph.D. program in 2014, it has grown to include over 70 students working across the University of Washington on everything from designing and testing battery materials to designing proteins that can turn genes on or off at will. Congratulations to our latest graduates - Justin Davis, Dion Hubble and Grant Williamson! [...]


Microscopy: Where science meets art

February 12, 2020

Scott Braswell, Molecular Analysis Facility staff scientist and Scanning Electron Microscopy expert, loves that microscopy draws on many areas of knowledge; knowledge of what you're observing, technical skills in capturing a good image, and your own aesthetic. Read our Q&A with Scott. [...]


First-of-its-kind hydrogel platform enables on-demand production of medicines and chemicals

February 4, 2020

Researchers in the lab of MolES faculty member and professor of chemistry Al Nelson – along with collaborators at the University of Texas – unveiled a new way to produce medicines and chemicals and preserve them using portable “biofactories” that are embedded in water-based gels known as hydrogels. The approach could help people in remote villages or on military missions, where the absence of pharmacies, doctor’s offices or even basic refrigeration makes it hard to access critical medicines and other small-molecule compounds. [...]


Collaborating for Clean Tech

January 24, 2020

MolE PhD student Ted Cohen shares how molecular engineering has opened new opportunities for collaboration. Cohen is a 4th year molecular engineering Ph.D. student co-advised by Professor of Chemistry Daniel Gamelin and Professors of Materials Science & Engineering Christine Luscombe and Devin Mackenzie. [...]


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PECASE Honoree Elizabeth Nance highlights the importance of collaboration in nanotechnology

November 24, 2019

Elizabeth Nance, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle and a recent recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), focuses her research on understanding the barriers in the brain and other cell- and tissue-based barriers in the body to see how nanoparticles interact with them. [...]


Team uses golden ‘lollipop’ to observe elusive interference effect at the nanoscale

November 7, 2019

A team led by MolES faculty member David Masiello and scientists from the University of Notre Dame used recent advances in electron microscopy to observe Fano interferences — a form of quantum-mechanical interference by electrons — directly in a pair of metallic nanoparticles. [...]