Biochemistry announces 2018 department awards, fellowships for student research

The Department of Biochemistry is excited to announce its 2018 undergraduate and graduate student departmental awards and fellowships. These awards and fellowships celebrate talented students in the department and are made possible by generous gifts to the department to fund graduate and undergraduate research.

“We are always honored to have the opportunity to support our best and brightest students,” says department chair Brian Fox. “These awards are a testament to both our talented young scientists and our generous supporters.”

The awards include the Undergraduate Summer Research Award, Mary Shine Peterson Award, and Department of Biochemistry Graduate Fellowships. This year’s winners are listed below.

  • Undergraduate Summer Research Awards: Dhruva Ajit Nair, Nick Bockhaus, Claire Evensen, Emma Groblewski, Garrett Gunderson, Grant Hussey, Artun Kadaster, Grace Padgett, Paige Pistono, Rasika Ramanathan, Navid Shoaee, Alexios Staikos, Abbey Stoltenburg, Katherine Vietor
  • Mary Shine Peterson Awards: Bennett Bremer, Sarah Dyke, Jeff Harrington, Guanyu Liao, Gina Luu, Neema Mbele, Michael Palo, Ryan Risgaard, Wenqi Shen, Sarah Thimmesch
  • Department of Biochemistry Graduate Fellowships: Jessica Cardenas, Samson Condon, Dana Dahhan, Mike Kelliher, Zachary Kemmerer, Harriet Saunders, Anne Schwarzwalder, Nathan Thomas

The Undergraduate Summer Research Awards are supported by generous gifts to funds that support undergraduate research. This year’s awards were made possible by Genentech Corporation, the E.W. Hopkins Fund, Carl Krieger Memorial Fellowship Fund, Henry A. Lardy Undergraduate Research Fund, Floyd C. McIntire Biochemistry Award Fund, Dr. Shang-Chen Pan Fund in Biochemistry, Jerome J. Stefaniak Biochemistry Scholarship Fund, and Ezra L. Totten Scholarship in Biochemistry.

Group photo of award winners
Undergraduate Summer Research Award winners. Photo: Robin Davies.

The awards give the biochemistry majors who got these summer awards a stipend to work in a faculty lab over the summer, without having to take up a second summer job to pay living expenses. This allows the students to get full-time experience working in a lab performing research.

“I am extremely honored and grateful to receive such a prestigious award,” says awardee Garrett Gunderson, who does research in the lab of Professor Judith Kimble. “I find the field of biochemistry extremely interesting and feel that the research in this field is essential for the further development of medical treatments and scientific understanding. To receive an award that will allow me to be a part of such exciting research is extremely humbling.”

Faculty and graduate students also benefit from having undergraduate researchers in the lab. Graduate students like Brian Carrick, who mentors Gunderson in the Kimble Lab, not only get experience mentoring young researchers but also get help furthering the research for their Ph.D.

“Garrett is incredibly hard working and driven, and it’s great to see his efforts being recognized,” Carrick says. “Undergraduates have become an integral part of our research team, both in conducting research and giving graduate students an opportunity to closely mentor these students. I’m excited Garrett is able to stay in Madison over the summer thanks to this award and work closely with me on further developing his laboratory skills.”

The Mary Shine Peterson Awards are sponsored by the Mary Shine Peterson Scholarship in Biochemistry fund and donors to the award. These awards foster and support advanced undergraduates in biochemistry-related activities. Many students use the award to fund time performing research at another university in the United States or abroad. Other students use it to fund a trip to present their research at a scientific conference or meeting.

Group photo of award winners
Mary Shine Peterson Award recipients. Photo: Robin Davies.

Sarah Timmesch, a Mary Shine Peterson awardee, will be able to participate in the department’s SCORE program, run by Professor Marv Wickens. The program sends students to Oxford or Cambridge University to conduct research and learn what it’s like to be part of an international science community.

“It means so much to me to earn this award,” she explains. “It means that I can attend my abroad research program at Oxford and gain even more insight into research and all that it entails. It allows me to not have to stress over finding the financial support to travel there, and to truly enjoy my research.”

Graduate student fellowships cover a student’s tuition and stipend for an academic year. They provide students flexibility in their research endeavors by not being tied to a specific grant. By freeing up funds, they also, for example, allow faculty to purchase new equipment for labs. Students who receive these fellowships are part of the Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB), the joint graduate program of the Department of Biochemistry and the Department of Biomolecular Chemistry.

Group photo of fellowship awardees
Department of Biochemistry Graduate Student Fellowship awardees. Photo: Robin Davies.

This year’s department graduate fellowships are sponsored by the Arthur B. Michael Fund, the William H. Peterson Fellowships in Biochemistry fund, and the Steenbock Predoctoral Fellowship in Biochemistry fund.

“It’s a real honor to have the science I am doing be recognized by others and that keeps me driven to keep asking questions,” says Harriet Saunders, an IPiB student in the lab of Assistant Professor Jill Wildonger. “Earning this award encourages me that my research is going in the right direction and motivates me to keep pushing forward. The funding from this award will allow me to remain focused on my studies as I attempt to become an independent researcher.”