Congratulations to Biophysics Graduate Students Grace Arhin and Chia-Yu Kang for being awarded Rackham Predoctoral Fellowships in this year's competition! The Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship supports outstanding doctoral students who have achieved candidacy and are actively working on unusually creative, ambitious, impactful dissertation research and writing.

The Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship is one of the most prestigious awards granted by Rackham Graduate School. Doctoral candidates who expect to graduate within six years since beginning their degrees are eligible to apply, and the strength and quality of their dissertation abstract, publications and presentations, and recommendations are all taken into consideration when granting this award.

Read their abstracts below:

Chia-Yu Kang, Biophysics

Fluoride is a commonly used antimicrobial to prevent tooth decay. However, oral pathogens, like Streptococcus mutans and Candida albicans, avoid fluoride toxicity using fluoride exporters, the CLC F and FEX proteins, respectively. The goal of my thesis is to gain insight into the molecular architecture of these fluoride exporters using biochemical assays and structural studies, including X-ray crystallography or single-particle cryo-EM. Once the molecular basis is clear, these structures can be used to support the rational design of improved antimicrobial drugs that target fluoride exporters of oral pathogens specifically, without affecting closely related beneficial oral microbes.

Grace Arhin, Biophysics

The study of non-coding RNAs, particularly micro-RNAs, have become increasingly important due to the recognition that these molecules play crucial roles in gene expression. The dysregulation in micro-RNA maturation can be drivers of multiple human diseases such as cancers, and cardiovascular diseases. My dissertation is dedicated to exploring the influence of micro-RNA structural dynamics on their maturation, unveiling critical insights into their behavior and functions.

Join us in congratulating both of them for this achievement, and in appreciating all of the outstanding graduate students who represent Biophysics at Michigan!