The Endowment for the Thomas Sedlock Icon Scholarships was created to provide financial assistance to undergraduate students at the University of Washington who are pursuing degrees in any of the following areas of study: Physical sciences, Life sciences, Engineering, Mathematics, and/or other areas of national need as determined by the National Science Foundation.
It was Thomas Joseph Sedlock’s philosophy that the future will be dominated by the best ideas, not the most ideas. Recipients awarded this scholarship break the mold. The scholarships support self-motivated individuals who demonstrate academic achievement, persistence and follow-through, as well as objectively manifested initiative shown through activities such as (but not limited to): notable self-created experiments in some scientific endeavor, demonstrated leadership in some activity, exceptional writings, etc.
2022-2023 Thomas Sedlock Icon Scholars:
Winter Quarter Scholars
- Shannon Hong
- Josephine Meier
- Vigash Ravi
Fall Quarter Scholars
Class of 2023, Neuroscience
Shannon Hong is a graduating senior in the Honors Program majoring in Neuroscience at the University of Washington. Her experiences conducting motor plasticity research at UW, volunteering at the UW Medical Center, and covering COVID-19 news for The Daily motivated her to explore clinical research. To this end, she participated in the Scan Design Innovations in Pain Research Program in 2022.
Under the mentorship of Dr. Tonya Palermo at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Shannon evaluated engagement with Web-based Management of Adolescent Pain (WebMAP), a digital health psychological intervention for youth with chronic pain. She presented her findings on WebMAP usage and perception to the Scan Design Board and at the UW Summer STEM Undergraduate Research Poster Session. Since then, she has been interested in exploring differences in engagement among youth with different background characteristics.
With the generous support of the Mary Gates Research Scholarship and the Thomas Sedlock Icon Scholarship, Shannon plans to broaden the scope of her project by identifying barriers to engagement among subgroups defined by user demographics. She will also develop recommendations for enhancing WebMAP’s cultural relevance to underserved populations. These scholarships will further support her academic goals as she completes her Departmental Honors thesis and pursues a PhD in Clinical Psychology.
Shannon extends her heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Palermo and the supportive community within the Palermo Lab. Their unwavering encouragement and insightful guidance have been instrumental in Shannon’s research journey and helped her to discover her full potential as a researcher.
Outside the lab, Shannon is passionate about promoting accessibility and inclusion in student communities. She leads a peer mentoring program for Honors students, which was supported by the Mary Gates Leadership Scholarship. She also serves as an Undergraduate Research Leader, empowering her peers to pursue research opportunities and develop effective science communication skills.
Shannon’s near and long-term goals: After graduating, Shannon plans to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Ultimately, she hopes to become a clinician-scientist and advance digital health innovation to make mental health care more accessible. She also strives to use her background in scientific research to improve science access, education, and resources.
Shannon’s tips for future applicants: Remember that scholarship committees are not only interested in your research, but also why you are pursuing it and how it will impact you! As you work on your application, make sure to incorporate your motivations and how your research aligns with your future goals and aspirations.
Class of 2023, Plant Biology
Josephine is a graduating senior majoring in Plant Biology and minoring in Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management. Having grown up in many different corners of the U.S. in a military family, she has seen an amazing diversity of ecosystems, which has kindled a deep love for the outdoors. She now considers Western Washington to be her home. Throughout her time at UW, she has taken a wide breadth of coursework from marine biology and oceanography, to plant ecophysiology and forestry. All of these experiences have shaped an interest in the role of plants in global nutrient cycling processes, especially in relation to climate change.
She began her research in the Strömberg lab in her junior year (Winter 2022) after learning about how stable carbon isotopes were used to measure photosynthetic performance in fossil plants in a physiology course she was taking. Working on this research project has opened many doors for Josephine. Since then, she has learned how to successfully operate a mass spectrometer to analyze her samples, given a presentation at the Undergraduate Research Symposium, successfully applied to the Plant Biology degree, and been inspired to consider PhD programs.
Receiving this scholarship has allowed Josephine to devote more time to finishing up her research project in her final quarter. She plans to present a poster of her work at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in May, and the Botanical Society of America’s conference in July.
In addition to school, she currently works as an intern at Seattle City Light, where she assists in climate change adaptation and mitigation research as well as fish biology monitoring on the South Fork Tolt River. She finds working in government to be very rewarding, and hopes to work in similar organizations in the future. Outside of her work, Josephine likes to spend time out on long bike rides and trail runs, playing viola with the UW Baroque Ensemble and UW Campus Philharmonia, and exploring the surrounding flora on hikes and backpacking trips.
Josephine’s near and long-term goals: After graduating this spring, Josephine will continue her role as an intern at Seattle City Light. She then plans to apply this fall to graduate programs to pursue a PhD in Plant Biology or related fields. Ultimately, Josephine hopes to apply her knowledge and experience to public service related roles in Washington State.
Josephine’s tips for future applicants: Make your genuine excitement and interest shine through your work.
Class of 2023, Marine Biology
Leah is a senior majoring in marine biology and minoring in American Indian Studies (AIS). When she was a child, Leah spent a lot of time in the Puget Sound and felt a strong connection to the water. Later, when she went on her first Tribal Canoe Journey, she was taught about the medicine in water. It further motivated her to understand and protect the life the ocean holds.
In her field, she has been involved in multiple research projects including at UW studying Pacific herring, at WSU studying the evolution of salmonid genetics, at the NWFSC studying Chinook salmon, and now at UW studying Chinook salmon. She has also worked as a teaching assistant for a capstone marine conservation course at WWU.
Outside of research, Leah’s interests include reading Sci-Fi books, writing poetry, and giving back to Indigenous communities. At UW, Leah was a mentor for Makah tribal 5th graders in the Riverways Program. As a mentor, she shared her experience in marine science and helped the students shape their own career goals.
Leah was motivated to apply for the Thomas Sedlock Icon Scholarship, and for the Mary Gates Research Scholarship, because they could both help her achieve her goal of becoming a salmonid ecologist by allowing her to focus on her research. She is very grateful for the support of her research mentors Dr. Thomas Quinn and Anna Kagley and is looking forward to joining the Sedlock Icon Scholar and Mary Gates Research Scholar communities.
Leah’s near and long-term goals: After I earn my undergraduate degree, I intend to pursue a M.S. and Ph.D. in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. In the longer term, my goal is to create and participate in salmonid research which centers the interests and perspectives of local Indigenous peoples. In kind, I plan to spend my career partnering with Indigenous Tribes to study the impacts of anthropogenic activities on salmonids and their ecological communities.
Leah’s tips for future applicants: Before you start your application, take time to think about how your passions, accomplishments, and goals fit into the mission of the scholarship you are applying for. These common connections are points you should emphasize in your application.
Class of 2023, Mathematics and Computer Science and Engineering
Hi! I’m Harper, a 20 year old computational scientist interested in cooking, art, music, and the nature of consciousness. I grew up on Bainbridge Island, and went to Bainbridge High School until 11th grade when I started the Running Start program at Seattle Central Community College. This program was a wonderful opportunity for me, both to get to experience the city and to learn what a healthy learning environment feels like. You see, Seattle Central was the first school I ever went in that the students actually wanted to be in. I ended up taking just about every math class they offered there, before graduating near the beginning of the pandemic and transferring to the University of Washington’s Bothell campus. I kept my head down and worked on my math major and computer science minor for a year before realizing I wasn’t going to be prepared to join the workforce in Spring 2022 as a freshly 20 year old. To that end, I applied for the Computer Science & Software Engineering major and got in. I befriended one of my computer science professors, Dr. Carol Zander, and she has been a wonderful mentor and friend to me. After taking Casey Mann’s topology course, I ended up applying for and was accepted to his summer research experience for undergraduates. That was a wonderful experience where I built deep friendships and learned what it truly means and feels like to do math research. Since then, we’ve published the research, and I’ve taken it on the road to the Northwest Undergraduate Mathematics Symposium (where I was awarded best talk) and the Joint Math Meetings (where I learned what it’s like to hang out with 5,000 other mathematicians). Last quarter, I participated in the Washington Directed Reading Program and learned all about applied category theory with Nelson Niu as my mentor. Now, I am working on applying category theory to my own research, getting a job which allows me to stretch my legs in both mathematics and computer science, and preparing to apply for graduate school in 2023 cycle.
Harper’s near and long-term goals: In the short term, I’d like to spend a PhD attempting to create a mathematical framework for consciousness by analyzing both real world brain data and the dynamics of artificial neural networks. Once I’m sick of academia I’d like to start a farming collective which provides housing and agricultural training and has grants available for individuals who complete the program to start their own farm. Finally, depending on what the world’s like, I think pedagogy will probably be overdue for reform, so later in my life I’d like to use my accumulated wisdom to formulate a new type of education system which focuses on teaching pupils how to think instead of teaching them what to think.
Harper’s tips for future applicants: Tell a story that you care about.
Class of 2023, Biochemistry
Elizabeth Karas is a graduating senior majoring in Biochemistry at the University of Washington. Her research interests are in determining the relationship between the chemical kinetics of protein interactions and their role in cellular signaling pathways, as well as determining how these interactions can lead to disease. In the future, she hopes to integrate her knowledge of cellular signaling pathways with her background in organic chemistry to investigate both therapeutics and therapeutic targets for pediatric diseases.
Elizabeth began researching in Dr. Jesse Zalatan’s lab in the department of chemistry over the summer of 2021. In the Zalatan lab, Elizabeth researches how different types of proteins regulate signaling interactions, using Wnt signaling as a model pathway. The Wnt pathway plays a critical role in early development by regulating cell growth and differentiation. As such, it is important to investigate how the pathway is regulated on a kinetic level in order to understand how to intervene in the event the pathway becomes dysregulated and causes disease. She is currently investigating how scaffold proteins interact with protein phosphatases to keep the Wnt pathway separate from the Insulin pathway. Elizabeth hopes her research will provide insight into how non-enzymatic scaffold proteins can regulate cellular signaling as well as develop a model that can be applied to other cellular pathways. She is currently writing an honor thesis on her work.
The Thomas Sedlock Icon Scholarship has helped support Elizabeth’s research while being a full-time student. This scholarship also supports her academic goals of pursuing a PhD in Chemical Biology or Biochemistry. After receiving her PhD, Elizabeth hopes to head her own research lab either at a non-profit research center or as a professor, focusing on investigating therapeutic targets for pediatric diseases.
In addition to research, Elizabeth enjoys cooking, rock climbing, and doing jigsaw puzzles.
Elizabeth’s near and long-term goals: Following graduation, Elizabeth will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemical Biology or Biochemistry. Her long-term goals are to head her own research lab researching pediatric diseases such as cancer either as a researcher at a non-profit or as a professor.
Elizabeth’s tips for future applicants: My advice to future applicants is to start your application early and try to have at least one person who is not in your research group read your application essay. Writing a technical essay about your research while also making it accessible for a more general audience can be difficult and having those outside your research group review your essay helps a lot. Additionally, reflect on your unique experiences and discuss how they have impacted your research journey.
Class of 2025, Biochemistry
Sneha Sil is a sophomore in the Interdisciplinary Honors program majoring in Biochemistry at the University of Washington. Her interest in ecology began from a young age while watching documentaries about animals after school. She started her project at the Santana Lab in her freshman year, hoping to involve her passion for biology and coding.
The goal of her research project is to characterize the ecological interactions between mutualistic short-tailed fruit bats (Carollia spp.) and Piper plants across different habitats at a rainforest site in Costa Rica. To analyze the acoustic data collected at the field site Sneha developed a program in MATLAB to filter out heavy background noise from animals, insects, and weather in the rainforest. She also identified the presence of bat calls in the data using peak frequency data and whether or not it was within the range of Carollia spp. bat calls, and compiled this data for further analysis.
She will use funding from the Mary Gates Research Scholarship and the Thomas Sedlock Icon Scholarship to conduct further precise acoustic analysis to identify the species and/or genus of bats visiting Piper plants and later carry out statistical analyses (ANOVAs) comparing the patterns of bat visitation across Piper species and forest and gap habitats. By observing these interactions, we can discover more about ecosystems’ biodiversity, better understand how plants and bats evolved, and evaluate how bats forage for and choose their food. This can more broadly serve for conservation strategies, prediction of speciation, and discoveries regarding symbiosis.
Sneha would like to thank her amazing advisor, Dr. Sharlene Santana, as well as her family and the community in the Santana Lab, for being so supportive, encouraging, and considerate as Sneha navigates her first long-term research project. She is endlessly grateful for their invaluable feedback, knowledge, and mentorship.
Sneha’s near and long-term goals: Sneha plans to pursue a Ph.D. in a specialized field within the biochemical sciences. She aims to take an interdisciplinary approach to her graduate thesis, as the process of scientific inquiry never truly occurs within one subject. Ultimately, she would like to work in her own research lab and teach as a professor on a tenure track.
Sneha’s tips for future applicants: Ask for help! Collaboration is what scientific discovery is all about, and your fellow lab members, advisor, and family members/friends in academia know this. Don’t be afraid to ask them for feedback or advice as you navigate this process (and don’t let the impostor syndrome speak for you!).
Class of 2023, Biochemistry (B.S.) and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (B.S.)
I am a Senior student double majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. I am also pursuing Departmental Honors in Biochemistry. During my college study, I was especially intrigued to study potential cancer drug treatments and diagnostic methods. To this end, I joined Dr. Fu’s lab to study tumor growth in response to anticancer drug treatments. I have conducted research with Professor Dan Fu since the beginning of my junior year.
The Fu lab concentrates on using Stimulated Raman Scattering (SRS), which is a powerful chemical imaging tool that enables non-invasive, label-free imaging of biological tissue and probes the intrinsic vibrations of chemical bonds. Currently, I am working independently on applying a mouse dorsal skin chamber (DSC) for tumor growth in vivo imaging utilizing SRS microscopy. The objective of my project is to quantify the intracellular tyrosine-kinase inhibitor’s (TKI) drug concentrations in human lung cancer tumors in vivo with a mouse dorsal skinfold chamber (DSC) model.
Working in this lab has given me excellent experiences to study the tumor-to-drug interaction and malignancies using biochemical and surgical approaches in conjunction with optical imaging techniques. In joining an interdisciplinary research lab, I work at the interface of biological, chemical, and physical sciences. For my work of the Dorsal Skinfold Chamber project, I have won both the Mary Gates research scholarship and the Thomas Sedlock Icon Scholarship. Those awards will encourage me to explore more scientific questions as a project leader and develop myself as a member of the scientific community.
I am especially thankful to Professor Fu, graduate student Brian Wong, and all my other lab coworkers for the mentorship they offered in my research project and the support and motivation they have given in my application to this scholarship.
Ruibing’s near and long-term goals: I plan to continue progressing in my research projects that I am currently working on to study the tumor and anticancer drug interaction in live mice models with SRS. After graduation, I plan to pursue a PhD degree in the Biological and Biomedical Science field to study disease pathogenesis and mechanisms. Specifically, I hope to contribute to the understanding of proteins associated with the neurodegenerative disease to discover potential treatments or diagnosis methods.
Ruibing’s tips for future applicants: The most important part to devote yourself into the research or field of study that you most interests you. Being able to express your passion is what builds strength and character in a personal statement. As opposed to letting others proofread your statements for editing, it is most beneficial to find someone in the same field of study as your lab coworkers or mentors for focused feedback on your writing.
History of UW Scholars
2021 - 2022
2021-2022 Thomas Sedlock Icon Scholars:
Senior, Computer Science
Lucy Jiang is a graduating senior majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington. She is also part of the Interdisciplinary Honors program and is finishing up Departmental Honors in the Allen School. Her research interests are in accessibility and human-computer interaction (HCI), and she is passionate about developing accessible technology and fostering inclusive communities. During her freshman year, she attended a CSE seminar dedicated to reading accessibility research papers. Soon after, she began working on accessibility research with Dr. Leah Findlater in the Inclusive Design Lab. Over the last three years, she has collaborated on and coauthored research papers exploring social media through voice and interactive sound design for websites. Lucy is currently working on her senior honors thesis, advised by Dr. Richard Ladner, which focuses on the design of automated audio description pipelines and understanding how the integration of visual question answering tools can provide blind and low vision writers with the context necessary to independently write artistic audio descriptions.
During her junior year, Lucy also co-founded an AI-driven audio description startup called VerbalEyes, a project which exists at the junction of her passions for creating tangible and sustainable community impact and bridging the gap between academia and industry. In 2021, VerbalEyes was recognized and supported by Madrona Venture Labs’s inaugural university fellowship. Lucy works to understand the needs of blind and low vision users and synthesize feedback and perspectives into finished designs and features. The user research behind VerbalEyes was awarded the 1st Place Undergraduate Research Poster award at the 2021 CMD-IT / ACM Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference.
Lucy was inspired to apply for the Thomas Sedlock Icon Scholarship to contribute to her future goals of solving critical accessibility issues through pursuing a PhD and becoming a professor. She is grateful for the incredible support and advice she has received from mentors, research advisors, and peers throughout her time at UW!
Outside of academics, Lucy loves baking, going on long walks, and inline skating.
Lucy’s near and long-term goals: After graduation, Lucy plans to pursue a PhD in Computer and Information Science. After receiving a PhD, Lucy hopes to become a tenure-track professor and create a research lab focused on HCI and accessibility.
Lucy’s tips for future applicants: Research itself can be intimidating, and it can feel even more intimidating to apply for a scholarship dedicated to recognizing your research contributions. During the application process, focus on clearly communicating your ideas and research impact to people who are unfamiliar with your work, while also being true to yourself and showing your passion for what you do. Getting advice from mentors, advisors, and peers can be extremely helpful, but be sure to trust your instincts too!
Senior, Electrical Engineering
Cameron Norris is a Senior majoring in Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington Bothell campus. In addition, he is also minoring in both Mathematics and Computer Science & Software Engineering. In recent years, he has discovered an interest in designing custom hardware accelerators that allow for faster processing speed and lower power consumption in targeted applications. Cameron wants to play a role in this increasingly important field as it is the backbone of many modern computing applications.
Cameron began his research experience with Dr. Sunwoong Sunny Kim in the summer of 2020. During this time, he researched the development of area-efficient FPGA-based hardware architectures for floating-point arithmetic. This research resulted in the paper presentation at a renowned conference, and a journal article that is now under review. He also explored the application of homomorphic encryption in privacy-preserving applications working on cyber-physical systems.
Cameron resumed research with Dr. Kim in the summer of 2021, this time focusing on hardware/software codesign. More specifically, this ongoing research seeks to improve the performance of image/video processing algorithms and machine learning inference through the use of the proposed hardware accelerators and hardware/software codesign platforms. Cameron applied for this scholarship with the hopes that receiving it would allow him to focus more of his attention on this research.
The research conducted by Cameron over the last few years has given him ample experience for his future career in the tech industry. He is extremely grateful to Dr. Kim for allowing him the opportunity to work on these projects and for supporting him throughout them.
Cameron’s near and long-term goals: After graduation, Cameron hopes to join a semiconductor company such as Texas Instruments or Intel and continue working on similar projects. He is also interested in possibly pursuing a Ph.D. degree after working in the industry for a few years.
Cameron’s tips for future applicants: Allow others to give feedback on your application because sometimes, the people around you know your strengths better than you do.
Dessirée Ortaç is a junior at the University of Washington, Bothell, majoring in Biology. Her interest in the heart and stem cells was sparked during her sophomore year when she took the introductory to biology series. That same year, she was named an ISCRM undergraduate research fellow and joined the Davis lab at UW’s Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM).
Knowing that heart disease is the leading cause of death globally, Dessirée is interested in identifying the mechanisms of how the heart repairs and remodels after injury, as well as improving the quality of life of those with the disease.
One reason for the large burden of heart disease is that after injury the heart is unable to regenerate. Dessirée’s research addresses this key problem and investigates factors that control the fundamental process which underlies heart regeneration- cardiomyocyte (heart muscle cell) proliferation. To address these gaps in knowledge, Dessirée will use human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived cardiomyocytes to determine if Muscleblind-like protein 1 (MBNL1) suppresses human cardiomyocyte proliferation and determine how MBNL1 acts to regulate cardiomyocyte proliferation. Beyond her own scientific development, this research will contribute to a greater understanding of regenerative medicine by revealing novel regulators of cardiomyocyte proliferation and hence regeneration.
Dessirée’s research is supported not only by the Thomas Sedlock Icon Scholarship, but also the Mary Gates Research Scholarship and ISCRM’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship. These awards will allow Dessirée to dedicate more time to her research and to continue developing the foundation of her science career.
Dessirée is thankful for her outstanding mentors, Dr. Jennifer Davis and graduate student Logan Bailey, for their endless support, guidance, and motivation. Collectively, they have helped her develop laboratory techniques and scientific communication skills and grow as a scientific thinker.
Dessirée’s near and long-term goals: Dessirée plans to pursue a medical degree with the intent of serving women of underrepresented minorities by focusing on closing the gap in the quality of health care they receive. Eventually, she would love to give back to her roots by practicing medicine in the Dominican Republic and Turkey.
Dessirée’s tips for future applicants: Before sitting down to write your application, take time to reflect on your unique experiences, and future goals. Make sure to start drafting your application early and share your application with people you trust to get honest feedback. The UW has great writing centers, which can be helpful if you are looking to get an objective perspective before submitting.
Anika Rajput is currently a sophomore studying biochemistry. Growing up, she was always interested in learning about what factors lead to the formation of health and development milestones. Through her experiences, she learned nutrition plays a large role specifically in infant development and childhood growth. This knowledge is what led her to the Northwest Mothers Milk Bank (NWMMB), an organization with a mission to provide the most vulnerable infants with important nutrients. Her role at NWMMB included working in the pasteurization lab to make sure the milk was safe for newborns to consume. With this experience, she learned the importance of human milk for the development of newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), which exposed her to a unique area of healthcare and research.
In order to continue learning about these crucial topics in parallel with her education, she joined a research group in the Center for Developmental Biology at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Specifically, her independent research is with Dr. Alison Paquette involving the prenatal environment and its effects on infant health. She is currently working on a project that studies the biological function of Glial Cells Missing Transcription Factor 1 (GCM1), a transcription factor (TF) that plays a critical role in placental development. GCM1 is being studied through the analysis of the difference in gene expression between samples where GCM1 has been reduced and samples where it has not. These results will then be correlated to sex differences and specific biological pathways.
Anika was motivated to apply to this scholarship to support her exploration of infant development and gain expertise in computational data analysis tools and molecular biology techniques. She is extremely grateful to be a part of this community and to her mentor, Dr. Paquette for her mentorship, feedback, knowledge, and support.
Anika’s near and long-term goals: Anika plans to continue participating in research, specifically hoping to get involved with environmental exposure research to understand how the external environment can lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes and development issues.
After graduating, Anika plans to complete her master’s in environmental health and apply to medical school where she aspires to treat patients and advise patients on preventative measures using her knowledge in environmental health.
Anika’s tips for future applicants: Advice I have for future applicants is to start your application/essay early and revise it multiple times. I also found it helpful to have 2-3 different people reviewing my application. One reviewer should be familiar with the science topic you are involved with and the other reviewer should not be in the science field. This made sure that my application flowed well and could be understood by an audience with diverse backgrounds.
2020 - 2021
Murtaza Jafry is a senior majoring in Physics. He is a student in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program and is pursuing Departmental Honors in Physics. Murtaza has conducted research with Professor Silas Beane since the summer after his freshman year, studying applications of certain theoretical models, known as effective field theories, in the context of nuclear systems in physics. His current research interests lie in examining and developing effective field theories and quantum field theories in nature. Effective field theories provide a novel mathematical framework for explaining computationally varied experimental phenomenon in a straightforward manner. Murtaza’s research lies in how such kinds of effective field theories can be used to deduce characteristics of quantum gases and other multi-particle systems. Murtaza was fortunate to have his research published in the Journal of Physics B and Physical Review D and has subsequent research manuscripts currently in preparation.
In addition, during his second year, Murtaza continued his research in theoretical physics by working with Professor Andreas Karch in high energy theory at the UW. There he studied exotic quantum field theories and fracton models with fermions.
In conjunction with his theoretical work, Murtaza has also worked in experimental particle physics, analyzing scattering data to deduce properties of quarks, elementary particles that form protons and neutrons. The combination of theoretical and experimental work in physics reinforced Murtaza’s desire for fundamental physics research studying the varying facets of the field of physics. To supplement his research work, Murtaza has also taken advanced coursework in theoretical physics and mathematics to broaden his background in these fields.
Murtaza is grateful to his fantastic advisors, Professor Beane and Professor Karch, for their outstanding guidance and support throughout his research career.
Murtaza’s near and long-term goals: After graduation, Murtaza plans to pursue a PhD in Physics. Subsequently, he aims to seek a research-based career within Physics, specializing in topics from quantum gravity to elementary particles.
Murtaza’s Tips for Future Applicants: Focus on your strengths and try to get as much feedback on your application as possible before the deadline. Write about your research experiences and how they have shaped your mindset and your future career.
Junior, Neuroscience, Computer Science
Chloe is a junior at the University of Washington, Seattle, studying Neuroscience and Computer Science. She has a long-standing interest in neuroscience and in understanding the complexity of the nervous system. Prior to joining the University of Washington, Chloe began exploring how computation can be applied to modeling the brain and developing clinical applications such as neuroprosthetics. Intrigued by the intersection of computer science and neuroscience, she began studying artificial intelligence, neural coding, and neuroscientific data analysis.
At UW, Chloe has been involved in research projects including studying the role of microglia (immune cells in the brain) in health and in Alzheimer’s Disease. Chloe also has pursued her research interest in computational neuroscience through the UW Undergraduate Trainee Program in Neural Computation and Engineering. Currently, she is working on a research project at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, working under Dr. Stefan Mihalas and Dr. Eric Shea-Brown to probe the role of diverse cell types in the brain using artificial neural networks. This experience has enabled Chloe to learn more about computational modeling of neurons and networks in the brain, and she is thrilled to be involved in this field.
Chloe plans to continue her research both in computational modeling of the brain and in mechanisms of neurodegeneration. She believes that computational modeling of the brain can open opportunities to computationally study treatment options for diseases including dementia.
Chloe’s near and long-term goals: After graduation, Chloe hopes to pursue an MD-PhD in Neurology at the University of Washington and conduct research in Alzheimer’s Disease while practicing Neurology. In doing this, she hopes to combine computational modeling and pathology research in her clinical practice.
2019 - 2020
Junior, Electrical Engineering
Megan is a junior studying Electrical Engineering. Before transferring to the University of Washington, Megan was a community college student with great interest in science and technology for sustainability. In her sophomore year, she obtained a summer internship with the Department of Energy and interned at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). After an intensive, thrilling summer where Megan worked with leading experts to make America’s power grid more reliable and resilient, she fell in love with the research environment. Two years later, Megan still works at PNNL as a part-time junior engineer and research assistant contributing original work in renewable energy penetration projects. That experience shaped Megan’s interest in optimizing and implementing energy-efficient systems on the nano and granular levels – from integrating renewable energy into the world’s power grids to use machine learning as a tool for sustainability.
In the summer of her junior year, Megan researched with UW Molecular Engineering Materials Center. Under Dr. Scott Dunham, Megan developed a convolutional neural network, a machine learning (ML) algorithm, to analyzing a promising photovoltaic absorber. This research explored methodologies to accelerate the design, synthesis, and characterization of materials with artificial intelligence. After that experience, Megan sees a future where ML plays a significant role in sustainability. She believes in the future of energy-efficient devices will be the Internet of Things and Smart Devices, such as smart buildings, where technologies are interconnected and self-regulating.
Megan will continue her involvement in scientific research throughout her undergraduate years and after graduation will pursue a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering with a focus on answering tough environmental concerns.
Megan’s Tips for Future Applicants: Start early to allow for various feedback and multiple revisions.
Junior, Computer Science
I came to the United States during my junior year of high school and was amazed by a number of opportunities outside of school given to students. When I came to the University of Washington this feeling only amplified, and that is when I decided to look into the research as a way of enhancing my experience at the college.
Because I liked it so much I decided that I should pursue Ph.D., as it would both expose me to more ideas, and give me the necessary experience to be successful in research. I am still unsure what field specifically I want to specialize in, and that’s why I have been exploring many opportunities during the last few years. Time after finishing Ph.D. is too distant for me to know what I would like to do, but as of now, I believe that research-oriented work in either academia or industry is a feasible goal that would make me happy, and allow me to apply my skills in a meaningful way.
On a more personal note, I would love to stay in the United States and pursue education, and then career. Since I am a Green Card holder, citizenship is definitely something I would want to get in incoming years.
Junior, Biochemistry; Comparative History of Ideas
Marium is a rising senior in the interdisciplinary honors program at the University of Washington, studying biochemistry and comparative history of ideas. Her personal experiences with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis motivated her to study the physiological mechanisms behind the pain she so often felt growing up. So, as a freshman she started working in the Gordon lab in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, studying the polymodal pain receptor TRPV1. Learning basic biochemistry and electrophysiology techniques, Marium has grown to now work on her own independent experiments with single molecule spectroscopy and TIRF microscopy.
Curious about the clinical pain research, Marium applied and was selected for the Scan Design Innovations in Pain internship. Under the guidance of Dr. Dale Langford, Marium developed an independent project to study the relationship between preoperative and postoperative pain in women undergoing breast cancer surgery. Marium concurrently saw research insight in action while shadowing a physician at the UW Center for Pain Relief. As her manuscript is now prepared for publication, Marium reflects on the internship as a key point in her scientific education.
Marium is also passionate about learning more about the pain and suffering of people in her community. She started by volunteering through University District Street Medicine. Witnessing the inequality between her healthcare and that of the uninsured, Marium became committed to making an active change. So with an interdisciplinary team, Marium founded Elixir, a startup nonprofit committed to connecting uninsured and undocumented individuals with community healthcare resources. Her team has raised over $10,000 to support their monthly workshops and mobile app development.
After graduation, Marium seeks to continue investigating pain and using the results to make a difference in the health of her community by pursuing a medical degree. As a physician, Marium hopes to combine scientific discovery and innovative technology with clinical insight to continue driving medicine forward.
Marium’s Tips for Future Applicants: Tell your story with honesty and authenticity. Write about your specific, personal motivations to pursue science, and how those motivations tie into your current research experiences. And make sure to get a mentor (or two) to read over your statement in advance!
2018 - 2019
Senior, Psychology (BS); Sociology (BA)
Honson is a graduating senior studying psychology and sociology. Having traveled to Chile and Italy through two study abroad programs with the support of UW scholarships, he became aware of the benefits, as well as dangers, of unprecedented technological growth on human flourishing. During his third year at UW, he became a research assistant for the Human-Interaction with Nature and Technological Systems (HINTS) Lab, directed by Professor Peter Kahn. By investigating how nature in a forest preschool shapes child development, he became fascinated by cognitive and developmental psychology. Drawing from the lab’s past work on robotics, he was interested in how technological systems can be designed to enhance the world and human flourishing.
Noticing the need for an interdisciplinary effort in this endeavor, Honson sought collaborations with Computer Science and Human Centered Design and Engineering faculties and students to conduct psychological research in the growing field of human-robot interaction (HRI). With the support of the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, he conducted an independent research study on human perception of robot communication, in an effort to design a social robot for adolescent stress intervention. His current work focuses on the intersection between psychology and technology––social presence created through social robotics and virtual reality––with a critical goal of examining the design of technological systems to enhance the world and human flourishing.
After graduation, Honson is planning to enroll in the Master’s Program of Human Centered Design & Engineering. Subsequently, he seeks to pursue a PhD in Psychology, in order to seek answers for his relentless questions on the relationship between technology and its creators.
Honson’s Tips for Future Applicants: Be specific with your goal for the future, even if it is uncertain. Demonstrate that you have thought critically about the future with specifics in mind. After all, be resilient and aim high!
2017 - 2018
Senior, Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology major
Bernice is a graduating senior studying molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. In her first year at UW, she quickly became interested in genetics and joined Dr. Celeste Berg’s lab to investigate tissue patterning and morphogenesis in the fruit fly Drosophila. In her current research, Bernice works on determining the function of a novel family of genes in wound-healing to better understand the dynamic and complicated process. She has also done independent research abroad at the National Health Research Institute in Taiwan in Dr. Jyh-Lyh Juang’s lab to explore the molecular pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Her work there involved the identification of therapeutic targets of Alzheimer’s disease. Her research is made possible through the generosity of not only the Thomas Sedlock Icon Scholarship, but also the Herschel Roman Scholarship and the Mary Gates Research Scholarship.
After graduation, Bernice plans to join a lab or the biotech industry for a couple years before she heads off to graduate school for either molecular biology or genetics. In the end, she would love to do genetic research on diseases without cures, such as Alzheimer’s.
Outside of research, Bernice has trained in the Japanese martial art, kendo, for about 14 years and competed on the national level since she was about 15 years old. She is a former national champion and was president of the kendo club at the UW. In her spare time, Bernice enjoys making mini photoshoots of her cat, Makisushi, in pursuit of her lifelong dream of becoming a mediocre photographer.
2016 - 2017
Junior, Neurobiology major
Julia is a third-year student majoring in neurobiology at UW. She plans to pursue an MD and a PhD in neuroscience with the goal of doing neurodegenerative disease research and seeing patients who are affected by such diseases. She would ideally like to spend a majority of her time in the lab and hopes to eventually teach at the university level.
Julia has a passion for science and medicine, and has been involved in scientific research for the entirety of her undergraduate career. Her long-term project investigates the genetics, neuropathology and risk factors associated with potential subtypes of Alzheimer’s disease. She has also researched cellular mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease and neuroblastoma during summer internships at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD and the University of Freiburg in Germany, respectively.
Aside from research, Julia is involved in many activities on campus. She is Vice President of Alpha Epsilon Delta, a pre-medical honors society, where she enjoys organizing professional development programs for members and helping other pre-meds navigate their journey to medical school. As an outreach chair for the UW Neurobiology Club, she coordinates with scientists who come to speak at the club’s events. She is also an Undergraduate Research Leader with the university, helping to bring awareness to students about research opportunities.
Despite a busy schedule, Julia is always willing to make time for running and coffee. She also enjoys hiking, traveling, playing piano and reading in her spare time.
Junior, Bioengineering major
Camille is currently in her fourth year studying bioengineering and computer science, and is in the Interdisciplinary Honors program. She left high school after 10th grade and matriculated at UW to pursue college-level science and mathematics. During her freshman year she became interested in neuroscience, and joined Dr. Fetz’s lab to work on a brain-computer interface project soon after. In her current research, Camille works to develop a unified, adaptable neurophysiology system based around the NeuroChip-3 in order to allow for neural engineering in the prefrontal cortex in dynamic research environments. She is also investigating the potential efficacy of the prefrontal cortex as a site for brain-computer interface control and studying cross-cortical connectivity as a function of behavioral state. After graduation, Camille plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. program, specifically in the field of neural engineering, and then work in translational neural engineering research for rehabilitation medicine.
Junior, Physics, Earth & Space Science, Astronomy majors
Tyler has been passionate about science and technology from a young age. Given the economic realities of Tyler’s childhood and adolescence, he was unable to truly pursue his interests. His inner engineer wanted to build anything and almost everything from Tesla Coils to Roman Ballistas. Meanwhile, his inner scientist wanted a telescope to explore the stars and a chemistry set to try to manipulate the elements. Tyler’s inner scientist and engineer have always battle each other for his attention, making it exceedingly difficult to decide on a single major when applying to universities as a senior. A part of him wanted to pursue a degree in mechanical or aerospace engineering the other half wanted to pursue a hard science like molecular biology or astronomy. Eventually Tyler decided to pursue what he perceived to be the most general degree that he could find which would allow him to postpone making the decision about what to do for the rest of his life. He opted to pursue three overlapping majors as it would allow Tyler’s flexibility in applying to both science-based and engineering-based PhD programs.
Tyler’s life also took an interesting turn when he finally decided what research to pursue. As someone profoundly interested in science and engineering from a young age deciding what field of research to pursue was more difficult than deciding a major. Eventually he made the gut decision to ask Professor Robert Winglee for a position in his lab. Eventually this lead him to perform independent research projects on asteroid rendezvous trajectories and spacecraft instrumentation. Additionally, his work with Prof. Winglee granted him access to the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium (WSGC). With the WSGC he has been able to travel around the Pacific Northwest to help promote science and space exploration.
Sophomore, Comprehensive Physics major
Yotam Ofek is a second year student at the University of Washington majoring in physics and mathematics. While math and physics constitute the core of his studies, he pursues a multifaceted education, drawing from a diversity of fields such biology, engineering, and computer science. Yotam has been working at the university’s biophysics lab since 11th grade. Now he is an independent researcher currently working on developing new fluorescence microscopy methods capable of measuring protein concentrations at the single-molecule scale. Such a tool would grant researchers of both biology and medicine a new way to probe the inner workings of cells and specifically the transfer of bacterial DNA.
A scientist in both heart and mind, Yotam wants nothing more than to delve into the unknown and to learn all that there is to find. After finishing his undergraduate education at the University of Washington, he intends to go to graduate school to continue his studies in order to eventually make a full time career of his research.