UC San Diego SearchMenu

UC San Diego Amgen Scholar Profiles 2014

Name Home School Mentor Amgen Scholar Biography
Elizabeth Bird
Elizabeth Bird
UC San Diego Robert Sah Elizabeth will be starting her 5th year at Revelle College, UCSD, studying in Bioengineering. Elizabeth is interested in studying joint and cartilage injury and treatment and developing cartilage substitutes and bioreactors for cartilage research. For her Amgen project, Elizabeth found a range of chondrocyte densities that limits type I collagen gel contraction. Limiting contraction allows better control of collagen gel shape, making the gels a better option for cartilage tissue engineering.
Melody Dong
Melody Dong
UC San Diego Andrew McCulloch Melody is a rising junior majoring in Bioengineering at Warren College, UC San Diego. She worked in the Cardiac Mechanics Research Group to determine the distribution of electrophysiological and biomechanical proteins in the left ventricle of hypertrophied rat hearts. Her project focused on the spatial heterogeneity of Connexin-43, SERCA2a, and Myosin Light Chain Kinase, which are associated with the electromechanical function of cardiomyocytes in the heart.
Alan Du
Alan Du
UC San Diego Dr. Elizabeth Winzler Alan is a rising junior in the 2014-2015 academic year majoring in Molecular Biology at Revelle College, UCSD. His project focused on the characterization of polyclonal antibodies against gene products upregulated in gametocytes, the sexual stage of Plasmodium falciparum responsible for transmission from humans to mosquitoes. The main goal was to expand the limited selection of gametocyte specific antibodies with the intentions of using them to better understand the mostly unknown sexual development for insights in future malaria eradication endeavors.
Peter Dykstra
Peter Dykstra
UC San Diego Richard Lieber Peter Dykstra is a senior at Warren College, UCSD, majoring in Bioengineering: Biotechnology. As a 2014 Amgen Scholar, he participated in the UCSD Muscle Physiology Laboratory continuing previous work on skeletal muscle stem cells (known as satellite cells) and the pathophysiological musculoskeletal system of children with cerebral palsy. Since his previous research had shown a dramatic decrease in the population of satellite cells in cerebral palsy muscle tissue, Peter aimed to examine the remaining satellite cells and determine if the chronic sarcomere hyper-lengthening that is a hallmark of cerebral palsy pathophysiology has an effect on the morphology and deformation of the satellite cell.
Aarushi Gupta
Aarushi Gupta
UC San Diego Michael Burkart Aarushi is a rising senior at Eleanor Roosevelt College, UCSD, majoring in Chemistry/Biochemistry with a minor in Political Science. Aarushi conducted research in the lab of Dr. Michael Burkart this summer, focusing on probe design for Fatty Acid Biosynthesis. Her project this summer involved the design and synthesis of a covalent crosslinking probe that could trap the fleeing interaction between the dynamic Acyl Carrier Protein and the Enoyl Reductase domain. Understanding more about the crucial interaction between these two proteins can help further drug development for malaria, which affects millions in impoverished countries each year.
Ivan Kozachenko
Ivan Kozachenko
UC San Diego Dr. Judy Kim Ivan is a continuing senior at John Muir College, UCSD pursuing a B.S. in Chemistry/Biochemistry and a minor in Biology. He is studying the folding and insertion mechanism of integral membrane proteins into lipid bilayers by fluorescence quenching experiments, proteolytic digestion and SDS-PAGE. Despite the prevalence of membrane proteins in the proteome, and their importance as drug targets, the in vitro molecular mechanism of insertion and folding into lipid bilayers is not well understood. His experiments on the model system, outer membrane protein A (OmpA) of E. coli, will shed light on this relatively unexplored area of research and may develop techniques applicable to other more complicated integral membrane proteins.
Chirag Krishna height=
Chirag Krishna
UC San Diego Rommie Amaro Chirag is a rising senior at Sixth College, UCSD, majoring in Bioengineering- Bioinformatics. This summer, Chirag used computational chemistry methods such as molecular dynamics to study conformational changes in the Tiam1-Rac1 complex interface. Since these proteins are heavily implicated in cancer, he hopes that these methods will aid in the development of inhibitors for this and other GEF/GTPase complexes.
Shauheen Ladjevardi
Shauheen Ladjevardi
UC San Diego Fred Gage Shauheen is a 3rd year Human Biology major at Revelle College, UCSD. For his research this summer, Shauheen investigated differences in the amount and localization of specific nuclear transport proteins in the neurons of younger and older brains. Shauheen used antibody immunostaining to stain these proteins and consequently examined their amount and localization using confocal microscopy. By examining the varying levels and locations of these proteins in younger and older brains, Shauheen's research endeavors to show how these proteins are influenced by age and how they might influence the onset of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
Laura Lowe
Laura Lowe
UC San Diego Susan Golden Laura Lowe is a rising junior at UCSD in Thurgood Marshall College. She is a General Biology major and conducted research in Susan Golden’s lab over the 2014 summer. This summer Laura focused on the diurnal response to dark and light cycles in cyanobacteria, specifically determining which non-circadian genes are most important for signaling this dark/light response throughout the cell. Cyanobacteria have become promising sources of biofuels and thus it is essential to know how these organisms react to cycles they experience in nature.
Shanean Ludwar
Shanean Ludwar
UC San Diego Mana Parast Shanean Ludwar is an undergraduate at the University of California San Diego, specializing in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. Her research interests include stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. Specifically, she is interested in studying the pathology of stem cells to improve our understanding of organ structures and regeneration. Her summer project focused on Sirtuin1, a protein deacetylase, in mouse placenta and trophoblast stem cells.
Cody Ocheltree
Cody Ocheltree
UC San Diego Maripat Corr Cody is a rising senior in Warren College at UCSD and is majoring in Biochemistry and Cellular Biology. Cody has been working under Dr. Maripat Corr for the past year in the Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy Department at the School of Medicine. His interests in this lab include investigating the relationships between arthritic swelling in the joints and perceived pain associated with arthritis. He utilizes an arthritis mouse model to explore toll-like receptor signaling pathways in an innate immunological environment.
Vivian Qu
Vivian Qu
UC San Diego Adam Engler Vivian Qu is a rising senior at UC San Diego, majoring in Nano Engineering with a focus in Material Science. Vivian is interested in biomedical applications of novel findings in Nano Technology. Her project this summer focuses on using a biophysical approach to characterize the metastatic potential of different lines of cancer cells. This study brings insight into the unique adhesion phenotype of a range of different breast cancer cell lines to hopefully bring a simple and affordable clinical test closer to fruition.
Julien Roth
Julien Roth
UC San Diego Fred Gage Julien Roth is an upcoming senior at Thurgood Marshall College, UCSD, double majoring in Physiology and Neuroscience(B.S.) and Psychology(B.S.). Through the Amgen Scholars Program, Julien worked in the Gage Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. His project contributed to the initial phenotypic characterization of hippocampal neural populations derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) which themselves were derived from pairs of monozygotic twins discordant for Schizophrenia (SCZ). In addition to elucidating aspects of the cellular and molecular progression of SCZ, this project aimed to inspire novel pharmacological interventions and therapies.
Maxwell Ruckstuhl
Maxwell Ruckstuhl
UC San Diego Terry Sejnowski Maxwell is a rising junior at UCSD's Muir College majoring in Physiology and Neuroscience with minors in Cognitive Science and Philosophy. He used RNA sequencing to study gene expression in a mouse model of schizophrenia. Identifying genes that are differentially expressed during abnormal neurodevelopment contributes to our understanding of the physical basis of schizophrenia. His project may also support the gamma oscillation theory of consciousness.
Satenick Thorossian
Satenick Thorossian
UC San Diego Shu Chien Sato is a rising senior at Marshall College, UCSD majoring in Chemical Engineering with a specialization in Nanoengineering and an interest in Bioengineering. She spent her summer in a Bioengineering lab, studying how biophysical factors, specifically cell geometry, impact mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) differentiation into vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) lineage. VSMCs are the major cell type of the vascular wall that regulate blood flow and pressure, making VSMCs valuable for use in translational medicine. When cultured in appropriate microenvironments, MSCs have been shown to differentiate into various cell types such as neurons, osteoblasts, and myoblasts, making them a potential source of VSMCs.
Johnnie Abell
Johnnie Abell
Dickinson College Deborah Yelon Johnnie Allison is a rising senior in the biology department at Dickinson College is Carlisle, Pennsylvania. During her time as an Amgen Scholar at UCSD she studied cardiac development in the Yelon Lab. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. The Yelon Lab focuses on molecular and cellular mechanisms through which the heart develops in order to develop a better incite into regenerative medicine and therapies. Johnnie Allison worked on understanding the signaling pathways that influenced the formation of the inflow tract, specifically the FGF and Wnt signaling pathways.
Alyssa Barriga
Alyssa Barriga
University of Redlands Vivian Hook Alyssa Barriga will be a senior at the University of Redlands during the 2014-2015 academic year and is double majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Following her undergraduate studies she hopes to pursue a dual Pharm.D/Ph.D. degree in Pharmaceutical Science with a focus in Molecular Pharmaceutics or Pharmacotherapy. As a 2014 UCSD Amgen Scholar, she worked with Dr. Vivian Hook at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Alyssa spent her summer evaluating natural cyanobacterial marine compounds as potential inhibitors of cysteine protease cathepsin B for drug discovery in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) using a high-throughput testing platform to assess a library of 129 purified marine compounds. There are currently no drugs available to prevent neurodegeneration in these two prevalent and devastating neurological diseases, therefore this project has the capacity to identify multiple new potential drugs at a rapid pace for AD and TBI drug discovery, including novel treatments that can halt the progression of AD and TBI rather than ameliorate their symptoms.
Katherine Berman
Katherine Berman
Chris Benedict Drexel University Katherine Berman is a rising senior in the Biology Department of Drexel University, studying at UC San Diego for the summer of 2014 with the Amgen Scholars Program. During her time at UC San Diego, she studied Cytomegalovirus at the La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology. Both mouse and human CMV produce proteins which counteract anti-viral activity of the host immune system. In her project, she examined the effect of N-linked glycosylation on the binding of Mouse Cytomegalovirus (MCMV) protein m166 to TRAIL death receptors.
Jessica Brown-Korsah
Jessica Brown-Korsah
The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey Christian Metallo Jessica Brown-Korsah is a senior majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. During the summer of 2014, she conducted research under Dr. Metallo in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego. Jessica focused on the branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) catabolic pathway in A549s (Human lung adenocarcinoma epithelial cell line). She worked on suppressing cytosolic and mitochondrial branched-chain aminotransferase using shRNA. Jessica employed the use of stable isotope tracers to study the uptake and flow of metabolites through affected metabolic networks in the BCAT knockdowns. Understanding the BCAA catabolic pathway will eventually lead to new therapies to help remedy conditions that are accompanied by the dysregulation of this pathway.
Emily Cade
Emily Cade
Oregon State University Michael Sailor Emily Cade, an upcoming senior in the Biochemistry and Biophysics department at Oregon State University, researched at the University of California San Diego for the summer of 2014 in the Amgen Scholars Program. She is interested in developing and improving treatments for various diseases, including cancers and neurodegenerative disorders. During the program, her project was based around characterizing the loading efficiency and release profiles of porous silicon nanoparticles in order to help improve the effectiveness of treatments using porous silicon nanomaterials as drug carriers.
Katerina Clemens
Katerina Clemens
University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Campus Fred Gage Katerina is a rising senior at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Neuroscience. As a 2014 Amgen scholar at the Gage lab, she examined the mechanism by which the protein APOBEC3B controls LINE1 (L1) retrotransposition in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The approach involved identification of cellular factors that interact with A3B and may be required for regulation of LINE1. Transposable elements such as LINE1 are DNA sequences that can change position within the genome. Because novel insertions of L1 elements can impact the genome in a variety of ways such as causing mutations, changing splicing patterns and causing changes in gene expression, it is important to better understand how L1 retrotransposons are controlled.
Malika Datta
Malika Datta
Purdue University Andrew Huberman Malika is an upcoming senior from Purdue University, pursuing a dual major in biomedical engineering and applied math. Her project this summer focused on brain injury, specifically dendrite injury, and whether the dendrites in retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are capable of regeneration after injury.
Matthew Foer
Matthew Foer
Rice University Terrence Sejnowski Matthew Foer is a rising senior majoring in Biochemistry & Cell Biology at Rice University in Houston, Texas. As a 2014 UCSD Amgen Scholar he conducted research in the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. His research project involved computational modeling of selective memory generalization during sleep. His models extended previous work in the lab on the implications of spatial localization of neuronal protein expression and made several novel predictions regarding sleep-based memory processing.
Paige Haas
Paige Haas
University of Washington (Seattle) Dr. Eric Bennett Paige is a rising senior at the University of Washington majoring in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. As an Amgen Scholar at UCSD, she studied how protein degradation is affected by Huntington’s disease. In Huntington’s disease, large protein aggregates cause neurodegeneration, leading to loss of muscle coordination, cognitive decline, and psychiatric problems. While symptoms are well characterized, problems on a cellular level remain poorly understood. Paige’s project investigated whether protein degradation via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway was impaired in Huntington’s disease, leaving the cell unable to maintain protein homeostasis and contributing to neuronal toxicity.
Rachel Lucero
Rachel Lucero
University of Washington Andrew McCulloch Rachel is a rising senior studying Bioengineering at the University of Washington. At UCSD, Rachel is working in the Cardiac Mechanics Research Group in the department of Bioengineering. This summer, Rachel is developing a 3D computational model of the rat heart for studying structural remodeling during cardiac hypertrophy. Her project used Diffusion Tensor-MRI data to reconstruct the complex 3D geometry of the heart, then create a finite element model, and overlay fiber architecture data on the geometry. This model will be used to test how electrophysiological and mechanical function during cardiac hypertrophy can be explained by fiber architecture and remodeling.
Nicole Mlynaryk
Nicole Mlynaryk
Rutgers University Jamie Pineda Nicole Mlynaryk is a rising senior at Rutgers University majoring in Cell Biology and Neuroscience with a minor in Cognitive Science. As a 2014 UCSD Amgen Scholar she worked on a project combining magnetoencephalography (MEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine the effects of neurofeedback therapy on functional connectivity in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The study also investigates the relationship between ASD and the mirror neuron system by measuring and locating mu rhythm activity during imitation and mind-reading tasks.
Victoria Myers
Victoria Myers
Eric Allen UC Davis Victoria is a senior at UC Davis majoring in Biotechnology with an emphasis in Fermentation / Microbial Biotechnology. She worked on discovering the product of a putative fatty acid gene cluster from the marine bacterium Dinoroseobacter shibae. Victoria used transformation-associated recombination cloning, utilizing yeast and its natural homologous recombination ability, to capture the gene cluster that can then be expressed and studied independently for chemical characterization and natural product discovery.
Joshua Temple
Joshua Temple
James Madison University Tracy Handel Josh is a rising senior at James Madison University with a major in Biophysical Chemistry and a minor in Math. He is interested in pursuing pharmaceutical research based in structural biology and biophysics. His project this summer was devoted to the crystallization of the chemokine receptor CXCR4 in complex with its native ligand SDF-1. The structure of the CXCR4:SDF-1 complex has yet to be solved due to its dynamic nature and instability, so Josh helped engineer cysteine point mutations between the receptor and ligand to form a disulfide-locked complex for improved crystallizability. Since CXCR4 plays a critical role in various forms of cancer as well as HIV infection, the complex’s high resolution structure will prove valuable for structure-based drug design efforts.
Andrea Wakrmunski
Andrea Waksmunski
Juniata College Terry Gaasterland Andrea Waksmunski is a rising senior majoring in biochemistry and pursuing the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Certificate in Genomics, Ethics and Society at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. As a part of the Summer 2014 Amgen Scholars Program at UCSD, she worked on optimizing and automating a pipeline for transcriptomics projects in the Gaasterland lab at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. This automated pipeline would include the pre-processing, assembly, annotation, and evaluation of transcriptomes. With this automation, biologists lacking bioinformatics training would be able to easily assemble a de novo transcriptome for their study organism.
Carla Winter
Carla Winter
University of Pennsylvania Mark Tuszynski Carla Winter is a rising junior majoring in bioengineering and minoring in mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania. This summer she is working in Dr. Mark Tuszynski’s lab with her mentor, Dr. Jennifer Dulin. They are examining the role that astrocytes, supporting cells to neurons in the central nervous system, might have in regeneration of the central nervous system after injury. Her project is characterizing the molecular profiles of astrocytes from different regions of the spinal cord and then examining if astrocytes from these distinct regions exhibit a unique ability to support regeneration of the injured spinal cord. This work will provide important knowledge about the heterogeneity of astrocytes regarding their capability to promote regeneration of important spinal cord axonal tracts following SCI.