Fred Hutchinson building
Class of 2022 students Sophia Bigio and Emma Van Deursen are interns at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Photo via

Written by

Four Whitman students are gaining valuable paid research experience this summer as interns at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (“Fred Hutch”) in Seattle as well as through the Mayo Clinic, which has locations nationwide. 

Sophia Bigio ’22 and Emma Van Deursen ’22 received Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Summer Research internships. The annual program, established in 2009, offers two Whitman students the opportunity to join the center’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program for nine weeks of intensive lab research. A renowned research institute, the mission of Fred Hutch is to eliminate cancer and related diseases. 

Bigio, a Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology (BBMB) major from Portland, Oregon, is conducting research on how irregular fat physiology affects an organism’s health in areas such as cognition, behavior and immunity. Van Deursen, a biology major from Seattle, is researching the role of lifestyle, nutrition and genetics on women’s reproductive health. 

Jhanae Bingham ’22 and Rebecca Johnston ’22 received Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships at Mayo Clinic. A partnership between Whitman and the Mayo Clinic, the 10-week program combines unique lab experience with career mentorship at the acclaimed medical center with a focus on integrated health care, education and research. Since 2019, Whitman has selected two students to receive research fellowships at Mayo Clinic labs across the country. 

Bingham, a biology major from Walla Walla, is researching whole genome doubling in colon cancer patients at a Mayo Clinic lab in Scottsdale, Arizona, while Johnston, a biology major from Hood River, Oregon, is studying oncolytic virotherapy at a lab in Rochester, Minnesota. Oncolytic virotherapy is a cutting edge method whereby a virus is engineered to safely target and treat cancer. 

“I’ve been able to gain a thorough understanding of what it means to work at a major medical research institution,” said Johnston. “My experiences will be extremely valuable in informing my decisions regarding what I want to do after graduating from Whitman.”

For more information about research opportunities at Whitman, visit the webpage