UW Bioengineering senior undergraduate students Jamie Nunez and Lael Wentland have received 2015-16 Early Identification Program (EIP) Presidential Scholarships. The Presidential Scholarship supports UW students who demonstrate scholastic achievement, an interest in research and motivation to pursue graduate study in their field. Jamie and Lael are two of three students receiving this scholarship in 2015-16.

Students who receive this award conduct a year-long research project under the supervision of a UW faculty member. At the end of the year, they present their work at the EIP/McNair Program Annual Spring Research Conference and concurrent Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Jamie and Lael are both researching in Associate Professor Wendy Thomas’s lab.

Jamie is studying bacterial endocarditis, an infection on the inner lining of the heart that causes inflammation. Although researchers have studied this disease for decades, little is known about the unique conditions that cause it. Jamie aims to increase understanding of the disease by building a small flow device that mimics the conditions in the heart involved in initiating the disease, and design a methodology that enables researchers to investigate its mechanisms.

When not in the lab or in class, Jamie participates in bioengineering outreach and works as a math tutor at UW’s Center for Learning and Undergraduate Enrichment (CLUE). After graduating, she plans to work at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to gain industry experience, and later possibly pursue a Ph.D. in pathology or virology.

Lael focuses on creating switchable recognition proteins that specifically control their binding. This technology has the potential to improve the specificity of diagnostic capabilities and imaging techniques. In addition to her research, Lael works as a Bioengineering Peer Advisor. In this role, she helps incoming students join the major and discover research opportunities.

Lael is passionate about global health. In addition to pursuing a global health minor, she serves Vice President of Internal Affairs for the student organization Bioengineers without Borders, and spent last summer in Tanzania repairing medical equipment.  Her long-term goal is to earn a Ph.D. in Bioengineering with a focus on global health diagnostics. In the future, she hopes to combine her engineering design skills and knowledge of human health to improve disease diagnostics.

Learn more about the UW Early Identification Program (EIP)