WALLA WALLA – Science research at Whitman College will not take a break over the summer. Instead, grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) will continue to support a range of student and faculty research activities.

“Active engagement in research opportunities such as those afforded by HHMI grants plays a critical role in a student's understanding of the practice of science and his or her desire to pursue a career as a scientist,” said Jim Russo, associate professor of biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology.

Indeed research has become an integral part of the Whitman science curriculum, according to Russo. The grant support from HHMI has expanded and strengthened the quality of research experiences for students by providing funding for student-faculty collaborative research teams on campus, basic and clinical science research internships at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and an opportunity to work with HHMI professors at biomedical research centers nationwide. A separate collaboration with the Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle has created research opportunities in vaccine and diagnostics development for students interested in global health.

Individuals and collaborative teams include:

Sofia Infante ’12, a biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology major (BBMB) , (BBMB '12) has been selected as one of 78 undergraduates science students nationwide to participate in the HHMI’s Exceptional Research Opportunities Program (EXROP), a research program designed to encourage students from diverse backgrounds to pursue academic careers in the biomedical sciences.  The students work in laboratories of distinguished HHMI professors. Sofia will work in the laboratory of Dr. Joseph Gleeson, a physician-scientist and professor of neuroscience at the University\. of California, San Diego Medical Center.  His lab studies neuron development and the genetics of developmental brain disorders.

Biology majors Daniel Hart ’11, Brian Wakefield ’11 and Tom Austin ’11 have been selected as Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center interns. Hart will work in the laboratory of Dr. Jim Priess on how cells create diversity in the growing embryo. Wakefield will work in the laboratory of Dr. Sunil Hingorani on identifying stem cells in pancreatic cancer. Austin will work in the laboratory of Dr. Ulrike Peters, focusing on the interaction of genes and nutrition on cancer risks.

Three student-faculty research teams have been funded through the HHMI grant for on-campus research this summer:

Marion Gabriele Götz, assistant professor of chemistry, was funded for a second summer to continue her work on synthesizing inhibitors of parasitic proteases in Chagas disease. She will be joined by chemistry major Brandon Fennell ’11, who will be returning for his second summer in the lab, and Julia Warren '12.

Doug Juers, assistant professor of physics, was funded for his studies on designing methods for cryoprotection in protein crystallography. He will be joined by BBMB majors Haley Marshall ’11) and Murugu Venkat ’12.

Allison Calhoun, associate professor of chemistry, was funded for her studies on using Xe-NMR to study micelles for drug delivery systems. She will be joined by chemistry majors Kyle Byrd-Fisher ’11 and Haya Jamali ’12.

Supported by Whitman’s collaboration with the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) biology major Emily Nickels ’11 returns for a second summer in the tuberculosis vaccine development group. BBMB major Allison Ikeda ’11 will work in the malaria vaccine group.