Congratulations to two of our outstanding undergraduate researchers, Nathan Greenwood and Beau Lonnquist, on receiving prestigious awards from the UW Office of Undergraduate Research!
Nathan Greenwood, Washington Research Foundation Fellowship
Nathan Greenwood is a fourth-year student at the University of Washington studying Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. He is interested in the interface of biochemistry and computer science and hopes to use computational tools to increase our understanding of molecular biology and treat disease. His work in the Baker lab focuses on the de novo design of proteins that bind to protein targets and has worked closely on the design of proteins to activate a chaperone protein called heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70). When active, Hsp70 is a key player in refolding proteins and preventing disease, and thus controlling its activity has therapeutic potential. After completing his undergraduate studies, Nathan hopes to explore further research fields abroad before pursuing a PhD in computational biochemistry. Outside of academics, he enjoys reading science fiction, running, and learning. Nathan is honored to receive the WRF fellowship and would like to thank his mentors Dr. Jason Zhang, Amir Motmaen, Preetham Venkatesh, and Dr. David Baker, for their support and invaluable advice. He would also like to thank his previous mentors Tonio Chaparro and Dr. Adam Steinbrenner for sparking his interest in research and to the Washington Research Foundation for supporting his undergraduate career and research.
Beau Lonnquist, Levinson Emerging Scholar
Beau Lonnquist is a junior at the University of Washington majoring in Bioengineering. He is passionate about exploring the intersection of computation and medicine, and how machine learning can be used to address diverse medical challenges. He joined the Baker lab during his sophomore year and spent the last year learning core protein design principles and applying them to DNA-binding proteins. Although some of these monomers were capable of binding to their target DNA sequence, they were unable to induce changes in genetic expression on their own. By engineering novel homodimerization domains or rigidly linking these monomeric minibinders, the number of intermolecular contacts made with the DNA can be increased. Beau hypothesizes that this will lead to enhanced DNA-binding affinity and repression of a target gene. Successful designs could have applications in synthetic gene circuits, serve as biosensors, and even lay the groundwork for de novo transcription factors. After earning his undergraduate degree, Beau plans to pursue a PhD before moving into the pharmaceutical industry where he hopes to apply his research experience to drug discovery. Beau is flattered to have received the Levinson Emerging Scholars Award and would like to express his gratitude to Dr. Cameron Glasscock, Robert Pecoraro, and Dr. David Baker for their unwavering patience and support. He would also like to acknowledge the support of the Levinson family for supporting his research and allowing him to continue to do what he loves.