Biochemistry Announces Department Awards, Fellowships for Student Research

A congratulations sign with the university crest

The Department of Biochemistry is excited to announce the winners of its 2017 undergraduate and graduate student departmental awards and fellowships. These awards are made possible by generous gifts to the department to fund graduate and undergraduate research.

“These awards represent the excellence of our students and generosity of our supporters,” says chair Brian Fox. “We are proud to present these awards that help support undergraduates and graduate students in the lab.”

The awards include the Undergraduate Summer Research Award, Mary Shine Peterson Award, and Biochemistry Graduate Fellowship. The winners include — Summer Research Awards: Thomas Anderson, David Beier, Cory Call, Sarah Dyke, Will Flanigan, Kamya Gopal, Matthew Larson, Guanyu Liao, Meng Lou, Stefani Lucarelli, Michael Palo, Melissa Seman, Wenqi Shen, and David Sun; Mary Shine Peterson: Matthew Arvedson, Jonathan Doenier, Timothy Guthrie, Emily Hinds, Hannah Karp, Lili Kim, Christina McNerney, and Ashley Ng; and Grad Fellowship: Samantha Anderson, Samson Condon, Samuel Craven, Thao Nguyen, Michael Veling, Christopher Brandon, Hugo Medina, Dylan Plaskon, Tyler Stanage, and Karl Wetterhorn.

The summer awards help undergraduates gain focused, full-time research experience early in their academic careers. The funds allow students to avoid taking time out of the lab to make money to cover summer expenses. In return, students work in the lab for 30 to 40 hours per week for eight weeks during the summer and write a research report on their findings.

“As per the summer scholarship’s goal, I will be able to continue my research nearly full-time through the summer while lessening any financial burden on me or my lab,” says Matthew Larson, an undergrad in professor Sam Butcher’s lab. “It is more than that though. This award represents the fruition of many long nights spent studying, the successful investment of mentors and professors, and the continued support by UW–Madison and affiliates.”

Photos of the undergraduate award winners
Left — Mary Shine Peterson Award winners: Jonathan Doenier, Emily Hinds, Hannah Karp,
Christina McNerney, and Ashley Ng. Not pictured: Matthew Arvedson, Timothy Guthrie,
and Lili Kim. Right — Undergraduate Summer Research Award winners: Thomas Anderson,
Melissa Seman, Cory Call, Will Flanigan, Matthew Larson, Michael Palo, and Wenqi Shen.
Not pictured: David Beier, Sarah Dyke, Kamya Gopal, Guanyu Liao, Meng Lou, Stefani
Lucarelli, and David Sun.

Larson studies the spliceosome, an important cellular machine that allows genes to be accurately expressed as the proteins essential for life. He says being able to continue his research over the summer will help him get further invested in it.

“Over the past couple years, I have poured myself into my work,” he says. “The long hours in lab have served like a positive feedback loop. The more I research, the more I want to accomplish and learn, which requires more research!”

Allison Didychuk, a graduate student in the Butcher Lab, has been mentoring Larson, along with two other students, Andy DeLaitsch and Stefani Lucarelli. Lucarelli also received a summer award.

“These awards will allow the students to continue their forward momentum on their projects,” she says. “Summer is an important time for undergrad research, and both Matt and Stefani made significant progress last summer. I’m very excited to see what they’ll accomplish this summer. Mentoring, teaching, chatting, and learning with Stefani, Matt, and Andy has been my favorite part of graduate school.”

The Mary Shine Peterson Awards are designed to recognize biochemistry undergraduates with demonstrated excellence in and commitment to research by providing funds to foster and support them in biochemistry-related activities. The award is given to support students in the summer before their senior year or during their senior year.

These activities can include conducting faculty-advised research in a biochemistry-oriented laboratory on campus or overseas, traveling overseas to participate in a global health program, or traveling to a scientific meeting to present a research-oriented poster or paper.

Photo of the graduate students awarded department fellowships
Graduate Student Fellowship winners: Samantha Anderson,
Samson Condon, Tyler Stanage, Hugo Medina, Karl Wetterhorn,
Samual Craven, Christopher Brandon. Not pictured: Thao
Nguyen, Michael Veling, and Dylan Plaskon. 


Graduate students commonly receive funding from their advisor’s grants. However, Biochemistry Graduate Fellowships allow students and faculty to have more flexibility by funding a student’s stipend and tuition for a full academic year.

Hugo Medina, an Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB) graduate student of Marvin Wicken’s lab, received a graduate fellowship. IPiB is the joint graduate program of the Department of Biochemistry and the Department of Biomolecular Chemistry. Medina studies RNA localization, which is the movement of messenger RNA molecules — after they are transcribed from DNA — to specific regions in the cell.

“My goal is to become an independent researcher,” he says. “The funding provided by the award allows me to continue to focus on my studies, and receiving the award reassures me that my work is moving in the right direction. I am very thankful to Dr. Marv Wickens for his excellent mentorship. I am also very thankful for the department for giving me the opportunity to complete my graduate training here, and for the award.”