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.
2020-2021 Thomas Sedlock Icon Scholars:
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.
History of UW Scholars
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.