WWU MS students with a focus in cell and molecular biology develop skills not just in lab work, but in doing cutting edge science. Their research both expands the realm of what we know about the inner workings of cells – the building blocks of life - and also applies that knowledge to critical problems in society, from biodegradable plastics, to aging and neurodegeneration, to plant pollination, to conservation biology and now COVID-19. These students need your help to continue their research this summer!
Recently, many graduates and students from Biology’s MS and BS programs and have worked at Northwest Laboratories, in Bellingham, WA, helping run the lab procedures to test for COVID-19. As NW Labs developed and expanded their testing procedures in Spring 2020, these students applied the knowledge gained at WWU to help make that process successful. At the same time, they gained valuable experience in real-world cell and molecular biology work. NW labs has processed over 1.6 million COVID-19 tests from all across the country, helping to track and control the spread of the pandemic. Check out the webinar on their success: https://alumni.wwu.edu/event/story-pandemic-partnership
Above: A WWU grad running a robotic pipettor to help speed up the processing of Covid-19 samples.
Help us support our students as they do research over the summer! Our cell and molecular biology graduate students play critical roles in our department. Though our grad students have teaching assistantships during the year, their summer research remains unfunded, meaning they often have to take second jobs on top of their fulltime research positions or have to extend their graduate studies to complete their thesis research for graduation.
Summer fellowship funding helps these students focus on their research without the distraction of having to work outside of Western just to make ends meet. Our goal is to provide summer fellowships ($5000/student) and research grants (up to $1000/student) for four to five Biology grad students whose projects are grounded in cell and molecular biology research. Interested in starting your own research fellowship for a student at $5,000? Make a gift of that amount or contact Amber.Asbjornsen@wwu.edu to discuss support options!
As biology professor Dr. Nick Galati knows, “anything that we can do to support summer research for graduate students will both build their skills and allow them to take those skills into the professional world." So please help us make these uninterrupted research opportunities a reality for our graduate students!
Above: The quickly expanded NW pathology lab full of Western students and grads and the map of sites across the country sending them samples for Covid-19 testing
From Our Students:
“The skillset I’ve learned during my time at Western has really allowed me to play my part in helping people affected by this pandemic. I’ve been able to apply what I’ve learned in both my undergraduate and graduate career” - David Burgdorf (Biology Grad Student, Dr. Anu Singh-Cundy’s Lab)
“Western allowed me to use similar leadership skills, as an undergrad, TA-ing labs and then in research, that I have now been able to apply here as a supervisor” - Alexandra Putzier (Biology BS ’18; NW Labs Molecular Team Supervisor)
“Working at Northwest Labs has definitely solidified my goal to be involved in and pursue science….It showed not only the importance of science but the individual impact I can make as a scientist.” - Aliki Valdes (Biology BS ‘20)
"Through the opportunities afforded to me as a WWU Biology Graduate Student and as a technician at Northwest Labs I have been able to develop as a well-rounded scientist with a specialized molecular skillset while also supporting my community" - Ben Haagen (M.S Candidate & TA)
Left: Kerry Roberts-Nygren (Biology BS, MCB emphasis ’20, NW Pathology) performing RT-PCR in the Lee Lab Middle: Dr. Lee’s Lab at the Allen Institute Right: Sam Ernest (Biology MS ’20) examining cells in the Lee Lab
Thank you for considering supporting these dedicated, motivated students. Their efforts are helping to make the world a better place as they unlock the secrets of the cell.
Dr. David Hooper
Biology Graduate Program Chair