Short student spotlights

Get to know a little bit about our students. Check our Instagram at uwmoles, for more photos and fun.

Nick in a blue suit outside.

Nick Quinn-Bohmann, who is defending his thesis on May 1, is in the Gibbons Lab, at the Institute for Systems Biology. His research focuses on using community-scale metabolic modeling to build predictive models of the gut microbiome. This can help elucidate the mechanisms by which these microbes affect human health and disease, and design personalized, precision-crafted interventions aimed at modulating the microbiome and improving trajectories of health. In his free time he hikes — slowly working his way through all the national parks in the country, playis basketball, practices photography and travels as much as possible. He is originally from Germany and grew up on the east coast before moving west for grad school. After graduation, Quinn-Bohmann will be moving to Amsterdam. He is in the process of finding a role there where he can continue his work in precision nutrition.

Gocke Altin

Gokce Altin Yavuzarslan very recently completed her MolE Ph.D. program. As a graduate student in Professor Alshakim Nelson’s lab in the Department of Chemistry, Gocke developed a class of materials known as engineered living materials (ELMs), which combine living cells with polymeric matrices to yield novel materials with programmable functions. She designed 3D printable ELMs and utilized microbial-polymer interactions to program material properties, demonstrating how 3D printed ELM objects can be utilized in biomedical, sustainable environment, and bioengineering fields. Upon graduation, she joined Northeastern University as an Assistant Professor in the College of Science within the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. An avid reader, Yavuzarslan’s got a few favorite books that she recommends: “Human Landscapes from My Country,” by Nazim Hikmet Ran, “Blindness,” by Jose Saramago, and “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. When she’s not working or reading she might be watercolor painting — especially creating floral patterns, experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen or going for walks in parks like Ravenna Park or Green Lake. She also loves hiking — Mt. Rainier Paradise is her favorite spot.

Phuong Nguyen

Phuong Nguyen is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate working chemical engineering’s Nance Lab. She is investigating brain-derived exosomes as therapeutic vehicles and molecular probes in the neonatal brain. As a founding member of the MolES Graduate Student Association (formerly the DEI committee) she is helping to connecting student to resources both on and off campus, and building a community that promotes inclusivity and outreach. She is a first-generation student giving back communities that supported her while building bridges for others in their STEM careers. In terms of candy, Nguyen prefers fruity and gummy to chocolate and hard candies. Her favorite is Sour Patch Kids, particularly the red ones.

Mattias Tolhurst outside

Mattias Tolhurst is a second year Ph.D. student working in Jeff Nivala’s lab, which is part of the wider Molecular Information Systems Lab (MISL). His work focuses on using proteins to record information and at the moment, they are building a protein clock. Mattias enjoys running and skateboarding to burn off steam but says he’s running more often these days. He loves making his favorite dessert, tiramisu, but said pavlova gets an honorable mention as a classic New Zealand favorite.

Paul Kim

Paul Kim is a second year Ph.D student, working in the Baker Lab. He works on development of diffusion models for generating novel DNA binding proteins. When he’s not in the lab or studying you might find him eating olive oil ice cream from Salt and Straw or hiking in the Cascades – he says there are a lot of great day hikes within 60 to 90 minutes of the city.