Link: University of Iowa

2017 IDT & Smith-Gehring Graduate Fellowships

July 5th, 2017 by Maren Rogers

The IDT and Smith-Gehring Graduate Fellowships are awarded to three of the most meritorious second year Biochemistry graduate students based on academic and research achievements.

The 2017 IDT Graduate Fellows are Kelli Sylvers and Christopher Ball:

Ms. Kelli Sylvers had a productive first year in the graduate program and made significant scientific progress. Her rotation work has already contributed to one research paper. Ms. Sylvers grew up in Coon Rapids, Minnesota and graduated with a B.S in Biochemistry and a B.A in Biology from The College of St. Scholastica (Duluth, MN) in spring 2016. Ms. Sylvers is training in the laboratory of Dr. Brandon Davies. Her research involves the characterization of two circulating factors, ANGPTL3 and ANGPTL8, that regulate lipid metabolism. ANGPTL3 and ANGPTL8 form a complex that inhibits lipoprotein lipase, the enzyme responsible for delivering triglycerides from the bloodstream to tissue. ANGPTL3, and possibly ANGPTL8, can also inhibit endothelial lipase, a major regulator of HDL.  Moreover, targeting ANGPTL3 and ANGPTL8 can therapeutically lower plasma lipids, which may reduce the risk of cardiac disease. The goals of Ms. Sylvers research are to understand the interactions between ANGPTL3 and ANGPTL8, characterize the mechanisms by which they inhibit lipoprotein lipase and endothelial lipase, and to identify small molecules that can disrupt the action of ANGPTL3 and ANGPTL8 complexes.

Mr. Christopher Ball had an outstanding first year. He earned over a 4.0 average in his classes for the two semesters and performed in an exemplary manner during his three rotations. During his rotations, he got up to speed quickly in each of the three very different research environments and was able to contribute intellectually to each project. Having a good idea is easier than putting that idea into practice, but Mr. Ball is able to fully translate his imagination into experiments that work. Mr. Ball entered Dr. David Price’s lab in the Spring and has begun several projects aimed at understanding the regulation of transcription by human RNA polymerase II. He is utilizing both biochemical and molecular approaches. Key to his success is his soft spoken thoughtfulness coupled with a drive to succeed. Mr. Ball will attend the Cold Spring Harbor Lab meeting on Transcriptional Mechanisms in the Fall where he will present some of his first results demonstrating a rapid increase in transcribing RNA polymerase II in cells under oxidative stress.

The 2017 Smith-Gehring Graduate Fellow is Alicia Ortiz:

Ms. Alicia Ortiz joined the Biochemistry Department in the Fall of 2016 after having been actively engaged in microbiology research at University of Nebraska at Lincoln.  Upon her recruitment to the University of Iowa, Alicia was named an Alfred P. Sloan Scholar, a fellowship awarded to promote the doctoral training of deserving US citizens from minority backgrounds.  As a first year student in the Biochemistry graduate program, Ms. Ortiz excelled accumulating an impressive academic and research credentials.  As a consequence of her successes, she was awarded a position on the Predoctoral Training Grant in the Pharmacological Sciences.  This is an NIH-funded institutional training program that promotes the interdisciplinary training of graduate students.  Ms. Ortiz will carry out her dissertation work in the laboratory of Dr. Kris DeMali and will focus her research efforts on understanding how epithelial cells sense and transmit forces in normal and cancer cells.

Congratulations to the 2017 IDT & Smith-Gehring Graduate Fellows!

Rachel Harder receives Women in Science and Engineering Scholarship

July 5th, 2017 by Maren Rogers

Rachel Harder, a junior Biochemistry undergraduate student,  is the recipient of the J. Lynn Stoll Scholarship for the 2017-2018 academic year. This scholarship is  awarded annually by Women in Science and Engineering, a UI program that focuses on helping females in all the STEM majors. Congratulations, Rachel!

Elizabeth Boehm receives 2017 Marion Dave Francis Innovator Award

July 5th, 2017 by Maren Rogers

Dr. Elizabeth Boehm, a 2016 PhD with Dr. Todd Washington, received the 2017 Marion Dave Francis Innovator Award which recognizes a PhD student whose research has demonstrated their singular personal initiative, creativity, and resulting continuous discovery, as exemplified by Dr. Francis.

Dr. Elizabeth Boehm grew up in small farming community in northern Illinois. She attended Winona State University in Winona, MN where she received a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She joined the graduate program in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Iowa in August 2012. She earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry in August 2016 under the mentorship of Professor Todd Washington. Her research focused on understanding what happens when damaged DNA is replicated during cell division. She developed an experimental approach that allowed her to observe the formation of individual protein complexes in real time. This approach and the new computational tools that she developed for this project will be widely applicable to researchers studying similar protein complexes in many other fields. Currently, Elizabeth is a post-doctoral research associate at Harvard Medical School working with Professor Johannes Walter, a leader in the DNA replication and repair field.

Congratulations, Elizabeth!

Tim Collingsworth Recieves CIRTL Fellowship

May 22nd, 2017 by Briana Horwath

Timothy Collingsworth, a graduate student in Mike Schnieders’ lab, has received one of ten fellowships from the UI Center for the Integration of Teaching, Research and Learning (CIRTL). This fellowship is awarded to graduate students “who have demonstrated an interest in developing innovative, teaching-focused research here at the University of Iowa.” Tim’s proposed project is, “Effect of Recording Lectures on Student Success”. Congrats Tim!

Nicholas McCarty receives 2017 Montgomery Scholar’s Prize

May 17th, 2017 by Maren Rogers

Nicholas McCarty, an undergraduate major in the Dr. Dale Abel’s laboratory, has been awarded the 2017 Montgomery Biochemistry Scholar’s Prize Award for his outstanding research accomplishments and excellent presentation at the Lata Symposium.

This prize was established by mentees, colleagues and friends of Dr. Rex Montgomery, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Biochemistry. Dr. Montgomery began his career at the University of Iowa in 1955, and is admired for his impact as a researcher, teacher and mentor. Dr. Montgomery is an internationally recognized carbohydrate biochemist and textbook author. While on the faculty, he served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Medicine, the Vice President of Research for the University and was the founding director of the University of Iowa Physician Assistant Program. Dr. Montgomery retired in 2005 after more than 50 years on the faculty

Biochemistry Undergrads Present at Latham Science Engagement Initiatives Project Engage Showcase

May 15th, 2017 by Briana Horwath

Biochemistry majors Lance Heady (BS 2018) and Steven Huang (BS 2018) presented their outreach projects at the Latham Science Engagement Initiatives Project Engage Showcase and Reception at the IMU on April 29, 2017. Latham fellows learn about science communication and public engagement and in the spring semester and develop individual out reach projects. Lance’s project was on the impact of governmental funding on disease research. Steven’s project was on developing virtual laboratory tours to make research more accessible to the general public.

Lance Heady

Steven Huang

2017 OVPRED Award Winners

May 10th, 2017 by Judy Means

Congratulations to Lance Heady and Laura Fischer, both junior Biochemistry majors, who are recipients of the Excellence in Undergraduate Research award.  This award recognizes outstanding accomplishments in scholarly investigation, artistic creation, or performance by University of Iowa undergraduates.   

 

13th Annual Gene F. Lata Undergraduate Research Symposium

May 5th, 2017 by Judy Means

Eight students presented at this year’s Undergraduate Honors Program. This year marks the thirteenth year for the Gene F. Lata Undergraduate Research Symposium. Please join Professor Marc Wold, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Honors Advisor, in congratulating these 2017 graduates and their research mentors for a job well done.

(left to right): Emily Britt, Sarah Gardner, Zachary Wehrspan, Maria Núñez Hernandez, Maureen O’Connor, Sarah Van Dorin, Nicholas McCarty, Nicholas Mullen
  • Emily C. Britt
    Mentor: Brandon Davies
    Investigating the Interactions Between ANGPTL3, ANGPTL8, and Lipoprotein Lipase
  • Sarah H. Gardner
    Mentor: Sheila Baker
    Post-Synaptic Development of the First Visual Synapse
  • Maria Núñez Hernandez
    Mentor: Madeline Shea
    Calcium-Dependent Regulation of Calcineurin Activity
  • Nicholas S. McCarty
    Mentor: E. Dale Abel
    Exploring Mechanisms by which the Insulin Responsive Glucose Transporter GLUT4 is Regulated in High-Fat Fed Hearts
  • Nicholas J. Mullen
    Mentor: David Price
    Oxidative Stress Reveals Mechanistic Insight into Human 5’ mRNA Capping
  • Maureen O’Connor
    Mentor: Lori Wallrath
    Lamin localization and genome integrity in rare types of muscular dystrophy
  • Sarah Van Dorin
    Mentor: Ronald Weigel
    Role of TFAP2A in Transcriptional Regulation of Melanoma
  • Zachary Wehrspan
    Mentor: Ronald Weigel
    TFAP2C orchestrates pH regulation in breast tumors, and its loss leads to EMT, facilitating the Warburg Effect

The symposium also included the presentation of two undergraduate awards, made possible by a gift from Alap Subramanian. The H.G. Wittmann Scholar Award was presented to Nicholas J. Mullen (Price lab) and the H.G. Khorana Scholar Award was presented to Emily Britt (Davies lab), recognizing their exceptional understanding of biochemistry and its value to society.

Congratulations to everyone named above and all of our 2017 graduates!

Nicholas McCarty receives Fulbright Award

May 4th, 2017 by Maren Rogers

Biochemistry senior Nicholas McCarty, who works in Dr. Dale Abel’s lab,  has been awarded a nationally competitive Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to increase understanding between the people of the United States and other countries by providing participants opportunities to study, teach, conduct research, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Kris DeMali receives 2017 Honors Thesis Mentor Award

May 3rd, 2017 by Maren Rogers

Dr. Kris DeMali was selected as the 2017 Honors Thesis Mentor Award recipient. Each year the University of Iowa Honors Program selects a single faculty member to recognize with this honor, which is driven by student nominations. Dr. DeMali will be recognized at the Honors Commendation Ceremony on May 12, 2017.