Jamison Siebart, who hails from Uniontown, Penn., is going into his senior year as a UW bioengineering undergraduate student. His focus is on nano- and molecular engineering. Jamison’s area of research is in the field of optogenetics in sensor development – an intersection between protein engineering and neuroscience. For the last two and half years he has been working in the Berndt Lab, run by UW BioE Assistant Professor Andre Berndt, where he is developing a protein-based sensor for the mu opioid receptor. Jamison is also an undergraduate team leader for UW Bioengineers without Borders (BWB) and assisting with the group’s Target Malaria initiative in Uganda.
What are your future plans?
I’m preparing for graduate school by doing some research over the summer. I’ve really enjoyed my time in academia, and I enjoy research. If graduate school goes well, I might go into a post-doc position and pursue being a professor at a university. I really like addiction science. I’d like to continue that research to develop better opioids that can relieve pain without the negative side effects such as addiction or respiratory depression. I also have interests in immuno-engineering and cancer research.
What surprised you about UW BioE?
What was most surprising to me is the interdisciplinary nature of bioengineering itself. I didn’t realize how much math and engineering is part of this degree. I was also surprised by the upper-level mechanics courses I was taking. It was interesting to have courses such as organic chemistry or biochemistry in our core sequence of classes and in that same quarter have an upper-level signal analysis class. The field of bioengineering encompasses a lot of disciplines.
Is there anything you’ve learned about yourself since being at the UW? A lot of the reason I left the Pennsylvania area was to get out of my comfort zone and move to a place that’s more progressive and open-minded. Ever since coming to the University of Washington, I’ve been able to form communities that I wasn’t able to create back at home. I identify as a gay man, and I’ve become involved in the LGBTQ+ community here. Throughout these last few years, I’ve become more comfortable expressing my sexuality and contributing to a more open-minded environment with all of my friends. UW is consistently ranked as one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly colleges in the nation. You can really feel that it’s very open-minded and loving here.
Has your community supported you and if so, how?
I have a variety of communities that support the different aspects of my life. The BioE community has provided me with a cohort system where I got to know people who were taking the same classes really well. Academically they have helped me get through difficult times, especially in an online environment due to the pandemic. Outside of bioengineering, I’ve been making a lot of friends in my LGBTQ+ community who have helped me progress through my college experience.
Any advice for people considering UW BioE?
“My advice is to rank the UW much higher on your list. I didn’t understand its prestige and how much the UW BioE program has to offer until I got here.” – Jamison Siebart
I’m so thankful I chose the UW. Research the UW Department of and see what aspects interest you most. Look at the faculty and the research areas because we have so many stellar professors that are experts in a wide variety of fields.
What do you like to do for fun outside of school?
My COVID activities were cooking, reading and painting. I’m now getting back to going to concerts, hanging out with friends and being on the water. I also love to explore the different Seattle neighborhoods and eating out at the various restaurants.