The Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship committee recently announced their winners for the 2018-2019 scholarship, and two Biophysics students were on the list- Katie Gentry (working in the Ramamoorthy lab) and Quinton Skilling (working in the Zochowski lab).

The Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship supports outstanding doctoral students who have achieved candidacy and are actively working on dissertation research and writing. The selection committee seeks to support students working on dissertations that are unusually creative, ambitious and impactful. Fellowships are awarded to students who will complete an outstanding dissertation in the year in which they hold the fellowship.

Three non-Biophysics students with Biophysics affiliated faculty were also awarded Rackham Predoctoral Fellowships. These students are Zhengda Li (Bioinformatics- Qiong Yang lab), Xinqiang Ding (Bioinformatics- Charlie Brooks lab) and Amy Farley (Medicinal Chemistry- Janet Smith lab).

Congratulations to Katie and Quinton - a worthy recognition to them and to the department! Cheers also to Zhengda, Zinqiang, Amy and all of the students who received these fellowships!

Katie Gentry’s Research Interests:

“My current research aims to understand how cytochrome P450s, an important family of drug metabolizers, interact with their two redox partners, cytochrome P450 reductase and cytochrome b5. Through NMR spectroscopy, stopped-flow spectrophotometry, and other various biophysical techniques, I have been structurally and kinetically characterizing these protein-protein interactions. With the use of lipid nanodiscs and other membrane mimetics, I have investigated the effect of a native membrane environment on the interaction between cytochrome b5 and cytochrome c which demonstrated more physiological electron transfer capabilities and preferred complex binding. I have moved to studying all three proteins [ternary complex] at the same time and am probing this ternary complex to see how drugs modulate cytochrome P450’s affinity for one redox partner over the other. Current endeavors include studying the three proteins together and integrating this complex in a lipid membrane to better understand how substrates regulate the protein-protein interactions dynamically.”

Quinton Skilling’s Research Interests:

“My research aims to determine how the properties of neuronal networks facilitate learning and memory. Through computational modeling, in vitro recordings in neuronal cell cultures, and analysis of in vivo recordings, I have been working to show that balanced excitation and inhibition help give rise to certain dynamical states of neuronal networks necessary for optimal information formation and consolidation. Further, I have helped to develop statistical methods for the rapid assessment of neuronal interactions to elucidate functional network structures (those networks based on neuronal activity rather than direct anatomical structure) and the stability of these structures with respect to different dynamical states and, hence, learning. Current endeavors include implementing learning in biophysical neuron models, coupled with in vitro cell culture experiments, to investigate the interplay between anatomical and functional network structures with regards to storage of new memories.”