Awards & Honors
The Chemistry and Biochemistry department is pleased to introduce the recipients of our 2020 undergraduate scholarships!
This years’ recipients are Amanda Linskens, Maya Pande, Daria Wonderlick and Dylan Galutera. We asked them to tell us a little about themselves and their research experience.
The Faith Van Nice Scholarship is dedicated to the legacy of alumna Faith Van Nice, and recognizes exceptional UO undergraduate students majoring in Chemistry or Biochemistry. Amanda says that she feels deeply grateful and honored to receive an award that honors such a successful and inspirational researcher.
My name is Amanda Linskens and I grew up in a small town called Seymour just outside of Green Bay, Wisconsin. I am currently a junior majoring in Biochemistry, and I became interested in biochemistry and molecular biology when I took a biochemistry class in high school. What inspires me about science is the problem solving involved in research and how much there is yet to learn and discover.
About her research: I have been involved in research since my junior year of high school when I decided to do an independent research project with my biochemistry teacher. At the start of my freshman year at the University of Oregon, I joined the Doe Lab and have been with the lab ever since. Currently I am performing research regarding what type of neuroblasts the MDN and Pair1 neurons arise from and what transcription factor window these neurons are born in. MDN controls backwards crawling and walking in fruit flies and Pair1 neurons control stopping in larvae. This research is important for better understanding the development of neurons and for further research into neurodegenerative diseases.
What’s next? My plans after my completing my undergrad degree include graduate school for molecular biology or biochemistry and pursuing a career in molecular genetics or another type of biomedical research.
The Kuntz-Swinehart Memorial Scholarship recognizes academic excellence in our majors, and was established by former UO Chemistry students in honor of two professors whose instruction, influence and inspiration had a significant impact on their career paths. Maya shares that it is such an honor to be recognized through this award.
My name is Maya Pande and I am in incoming Senior at UO! I’m from Portland, Oregon and I started school here in the fall of 2017. I am double majoring in biochemistry and political science. I like science because it represents innovation and progress. It centers around principles that you can observe in daily life, and I love the prospect of using my knowledge to one day better the lives of others.
About her research: I am a member of Andy Marcus’s Lab! The Marcus lab studies the physical properties surrounding the movement of macromolecules in biological environments. One project I’ve worked on within the lab looks to characterize the conformations DNA takes under different sets of biological conditions. I cannot imagine my time at UO without the chemistry department. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by the most supportive students and faculty I could have asked for.
What’s next? I am planning on taking a gap year after graduation, during which I’ll be applying to medical school. I am currently interested in becoming an oncologist, and I would love to one day work at St. Jude. I am also interested in one day working in science policy.
The Anita and Friedhelm Baitis Scholarship is new this year and provided funding for two undergraduate students to conduct research during the summer in a chemistry or biochemistry laboratory at the University of Oregon, under the mentorship of a Chemistry and Biochemistry department faculty member. Award recipients are chosen from among students that are nominated by department faculty. Daria says she’s grateful for the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department’s commitment to valuing and supporting undergraduate research. Dylan shares that he is very grateful to receive this award because it has allowed him to pursue research during the summer and focus on his education – a unique opportunity to relax and invest more time in his future plans, rather than having to work.
My name is Daria Wonderlick. I am a Biochemistry major from Portland, Oregon, entering my senior year at UO. I have been fascinated by the molecular underpinnings of life for as long as I can remember. In high school, I had the opportunity to study the genetic disease PKU at the Oregon Heath & Science University during the summers. From this early exposure to biomedical research, I became enthralled with the creativity and diligence behind scientific discoveries. I chose to attend UO for the well-respected honors college and opportunities for undergraduate research.
About her research: On the first day of my freshman year at UO, I walked into Mike Harms’s Honors Biology class and immediately fell in love with the course material and his teaching style. I officially joined the Harms Lab after a tour during a science open house. The Harms Lab studies relationships between biochemistry and evolution. My research project aims to characterize how mutations in RNA molecules interact at a biophysical level. Mutational interactions complicate our ability to predict the evolution of existing RNA and proteins and hinder efforts to design new biomolecules for medicine and technology. I am looking at a simple RNA system to learn how its ensemble of structures generates these mutational interactions.
What’s next? I plan to pursue in PhD in biophysics. I hope to contribute to the biomedical field by designing therapeutic proteins as a research professor.
My name is Dylan Galutera and I am currently a junior studying biochemistry with a focus in pre-med at UO and the Clark Honors College. I was born and raised in California and I moved around from there, to the Philippines, and finally settled down in Beaverton, OR. Ever since I can remember, the natural sciences have enamored me because of how far humans have come in terms of characterizing the physical world with its very intricate systems. Although the sciences have always interested me, I believe that it was piqued during my fourth-grade year. I remember witnessing a family member going through a medical emergency for the first time; my grandmother suffered from a stroke one night. Since then, it’s been my goal to pursue a career in medicine and further my own interests in biochemistry. With my focus on biochemistry and the human body, I hope to contribute to how we understand and interact with the complex human body.
About his research: I am in the Widom lab and I have been doing research with them since fall of my sophomore year. Before then, I did a term of research with the Dave Johnson lab as an option for completing the Research Immersion Course during the spring term of my freshman year. In the Widom lab, we use various spectroscopic methods to study the folding mechanisms of RNA molecules. Understanding the structures of these bio molecules contributes to the study of crucial RNA functions such as gene regulation. I am very honored to receive this research award. The scholarships and opportunities available to UO undergraduates have provided me with more opportunities than I could ask for.
What’s next? After I graduate, I hope to attend OHSU where I plan to pursue my medical degree. It has always been my long-term goal to become a doctor and specialize in a field of surgery of some sort. Currently, I have my plans set on specializing in cardiothoracic surgery, but I’m open to other options as I discover the right one for me during medical school.
American Chemical Society has selected UO Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty Michael Haley for the the George A. Olah Award in Hydrocarbon or Petroleum Chemistry. The ACS national award recipients were announced in the August 13th issue of C&EN.
The George A. Olah Award in Hydrocarbon or Petroleum Chemistry is awarded to one individual each year in recognition of outstanding, highly original research achievements in hydrocarbon or petroleum chemistry. Professor Haley will be honored at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, in conjunction with the ACS 2021 Spring National Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.
Four PhD students and three undergraduates in the UO department of Chemistry and Biochemistry have been selected by the National Science Foundation for the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP):
The [GRFP] program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution), opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose. As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the GRFP has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers.
Our 2020 recipients:
Casey Bisted – 2019 grad, now in PhD program at UW
Our Honorable Mentions:
This is our department’s highest number of GRFP fellowship recipients and honorable mentions to date. Special thanks to faculty members Shannon Boetcher, Mike Pluth, Amanda Cook, Julia Widom, and Chris Hendon for the great job they’ve done teaching the CH 401/601 Fellowship Application Skills workshop.
The fellowship was established in 2017 in honor of Professor Emeritus John Keana, and provides annual fellowship awards to graduate students studying in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Oregon. The award may be used to assist with defraying the academic costs associated with attending the university such as tuition, fees, books, miscellaneous supplies, research and living expenses.
The first John Keana Graduate Student Fellowship was awarded in 2018-19 to Matthew Cerda in the Pluth Lab.