UW MolE welcomes largest cohort

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We are thrilled to welcome our 9th cohort of future molecular engineers, our largest cohort of students yet. Learn more about our newest trainees and their current research interests below.

Reagan Beers

Reagan is interested in leveraging her past research experience to study nanomaterials for sustainable technology at the UW. As an undergraduate at UCSD, she used porous silicon nanoparticles to immobilize catalysts for the purpose of chemical warfare agent and photosensitizer dye degradation. She also spent a summer interning at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) where she researched corrosion of metal alloys in liquid desiccants to help construct an energy efficient air conditioning system. She received a B.S. in Chemistry from UC San Diego.

Louis Chen

Louis is interested in polymer science, smart biomaterials and tissue engineering. As an undergraduate researcher in the Ratner Lab, Louis’ research focused on developing engineered polymeric biomaterials for multiple applications. One of his projects involves synthesizing materials to prevent biofilm formation through surface modifications. He is also developing a biomaterial scaffold for better kidney organoid integration. He holds a B.S in Biology from the University of Washington.

Maggie Cook

Maggie is interested in leveraging synthetic biology to address environmental issues. As an undergraduate at Arizona State University, she focused on developing a computational gene regulatory network for mesothelioma in the Plaisier lab. She also rehabilitated the ASU iGEM team to focus on the bioremediation of arsenic out of local water sources. Maggie is a recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. She received a B.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering from ASU.

Brian Darst

Brian is interested in leveraging synthetic biology and metabolic engineering to address ecological issues ranging from food production to water pollution. As an undergrad, he studied gene regulatory networks involved in plant stem cell differentiation, with an eye toward creating more water-efficient crops. Afterward, he worked at a food biotech startup where he engineered strains of filamentous fungi to optimize heterologous production of dairy proteins for food applications. Brian received a B.S. in Biochemistry and Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology from North Carolina State.

Alyssa Easton

Alyssa is interested in applying engineering principles to uncover the molecular mechanisms of human diseases. At Purdue, she spent three years investigating changes in gene expression that may lead to age-related neurodegenerative disease with Dr. Hana Hall. Alyssa also spent a year as a bioinformatics TA for Dr. Kari Clase, conducting exploratory research on the relationship between protein structure and function through bacteriophage phylogeny. She went on to join Dr. Susan Tsutakawa and Dr. Greg Hura at Berkeley National Laboratory, where she performed X-ray scattering data analysis to assess the ability of AI to predict proteins’ functional flexibility. Alyssa holds a B.S. in Biological Engineering with a concentration in Cellular and Biomolecular Engineering from Purdue University.

Patrick Gerber

Patrick is interested in the development of novel drug delivery platforms. As an undergrad, he characterized drug loading and size of polymer nanoparticles to investigate the impact of intermolecular interactions between a screen of cancer drugs and the polymer. He has also worked on projects involving drug release from biodegradable foams and scaffolds. He received a B.E. in Chemical Engineering from Vanderbilt University.

Anika Gupta

Anika is interested in studying the mechanisms of CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing in vivo in addition to protein engineering with medical applications. As an undergraduate, Anika worked in research labs specializing in computational chemistry and plant biochemistry. Her honors thesis focused on the regulatory properties of enzymes in the plant shikimate pathway and methods of preventing aromatic amino acid-mediated inhibition of the pathway. Additionally, she investigated cation-pi interactions in biological systems using theoretical models to search for vibrational shifts associated with aromatic structures near positive charges. She received a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Paul Kim

Paul is interested in developing machine learning models with applications in structural biology. Previously he worked at Bayer (Berlin) and the Simons Machine Learning Center (New York) in machine learning research and development roles. Paul received a B.A. in Statistics from UC Berkeley.

Ariel Lin

Ariel is interested in developing analytical tools to investigate cellular mechanisms. The focus of her research as both an undergraduate and research scientist at the UW has involved the use of biochemical techniques to study membrane trafficking proteins in budding yeast. She received a B.S. in Chemistry from California State University, San Bernardino.

Peik Lund-Anderson

Peik is interested in designing de novo proteins for environmental applications, such as the degradation of pollutants and the sustainable industrial synthesis of chemicals. During his undergraduate he used molecular modeling and molecular dynamics simulations to investigate protein-protein interactions and to predict protein structure and function. He holds a B.S in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Idaho.

Abdul Moeez

Abdul is interested in integrating machine learning or artificial intelligence to develop materials for energy conversion and storage applications. Previously, he was a Fulbright fellow and masters student in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at the UW. His thesis focused on improving the electrochemical cycling stability of cathodes for sodium ion batteries. Prior to joining the MolE program, he worked as a lecturer in MSE department at the Institute of Space Technology in Pakistan. He has a B.S. in Materials Science & Engineering from the Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad in Pakistan and an M.S. in Materials Science & Engineering from the UW.

Davi Nakajima An

Davi is interested in using computational approaches to understand biology and solve problems in molecular engineering. During his undergrad, he developed deep learning systems for predicting how complexes of proteins fold with Dr. Mu Gao in Dr. Jeffrey Skolnick’s lab. He believes machine learning models are very useful in answering scientific questions and hopes these methods can help solve problems in healthcare and sustainability. He earned his B.S. in Computer Science at Georgia Tech with a Minor in Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Kira Olander

With a background in computational biology, Kira has spent the last 3 years working at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard where she studied new pan-cancer immunotherapy targets and their mechanisms of action. Kira is interested in exploring synthetic biology systems as it applies to environmental biotech or medicine. She holds a B.S. in Bioinformatics from Wheaton College (MA).

Mattias Tolhurst

Mattias is interested in all things synthetic biology, including de novo protein design, engineered metabolic pathways and synthetic cellular circuits. Mattias has a background in mathematics, biotechnology and pharmacology. He has also worked as a data scientist, designing machine learning systems for public health in New Zealand. He received a B.S. in Mathematics and Biotechnology and a Bachelor of Biomedical Science in Pharmacology & Medicinal Chemistry from Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington.

Learn more about the MolE Ph.D. program.