Programs

Sara and Frank McKnight Fund for Biochemical Research

Pathway for Early Independence

In 2001 donations from various sources helped establish an endowment in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Frank McKnight, the parents of Dr. McKnight.  The corpus of this endowment allows the annual investment of roughly $300,000 in support of research conducted by young scientists. These funds are used in three ways.  First, they provide support for young postdoctoral fellows who choose to conduct independent research within the Department of Biochemistry. This program is modeled after an independent fellows program at the Department of Embryology of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, where Dr. McKnight was able to receive the opportunity for early independence in the late 1970s.  The UTSWMC fellows are provided funds for three years to cover their salary, that of a technician, and the expenses necessary for their lab research.  Past fellows in this program include Dr. Jared Rutter, who is now an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Utah; Dr. Charles Dann, who is now an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Indiana; Dr. Trey (John) Fondon, who is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington; Dr. Benjamin Tu, who is now an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry here at UTSWMC; Dr. Ryan Potts, who is now an Assistant Professor of Physiology here at UTSWMC; Dr. Randall Halfmann, who is now an Assistant Professor at Stowers Institute for Medical Research and Dr. Helen Lai, who is now an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience here at UTSWMC. The program is currently supporting Dr. William Israelsen here in the Department of Biochemistry. Photographs of past and current fellows are shown below.

Dr. Jared Rutter

Dr. Jared Rutter

Dr. Charles Dann

Dr. Charles Dann

Dr. Trey Fondon

Dr. Trey Fondon

Dr. Benjamin Tu

Dr. Benjamin Tu

Dr. Ryan Potts

Dr. Ryan Potts

Dr. Randal Halfmann

Dr. Randal Halfmann

Dr. Helen Lai

Dr. Helen Lai

Dr. William Israelsen

Dr. William Israelsen

Graduate Students Stipends

The second program funded by the Sara and Frank McKnight Fund for Biochemical Research is designed to support the stipends of graduate students working within the Department of Biochemistry here at UTSWMC. As graduate students complete their second year of training, individuals are nominated by their mentors and a selection committee composed of Drs. Richard Bruick, Joseph Ready, and Mike Rosen choose the top candidate. The annual graduate student stipend is then funded for this candidate for his/her 3rd, 4th and 5th years of graduate school.  Since one candidate is chosen for funding each year, this program provides steady-state support for three graduate students. Photographs of past and current fellows are shown below.

Han Dai

Han Dai

Feng Jiang

Feng Jiang

John DeBergh

John DeBergh

Irnov Irnov

Irnov Irnov

Ying Liu

Ying Liu

Julio Ruiz

Julio Ruiz

Ling Cai

Ling Cai

Salman Banani

Salman Banani

Haoming Liu

Haoming Liu

Wenhan Zhang

Wenhan Zhang

Undergraduate Research Prizes

The final program funded by the Sara and Frank McKnight Fund for Biomedical Research offers undergraduate prizes in the fields of chemistry, biophysics, and biochemistry.  In the late summer of each year, a national announcement of the awards is distributed, leading junior and senior level undergraduates to be nominated for these awards.  Selection committees in chemistry (Joseph Ready and Jef DeBrabander), biophysics (Kevin Gardner and Luke Rice), and biochemistry (Benjamin Tu and Wade Winkler) then review all applicants to select the top five to be invited to the annual research retreat of the Department of Biochemistry that takes place in early November of each year in New Braunfels, Texas.  While at the departmental research retreat, the undergraduates present posters that are viewed and judged by faculty members to select the 1st place ($2,000), 2nd place ($1,000), and 3rd place ($500) winners. A listing of past winners in the fields of chemistry, biophysics, and biochemistry is shown below, as are photographs of the 2007 awardees and finalists for 2008-2014 taken at the departmental research retreat. Given that there are precious few awards and prizes for undergraduate research accomplishments, we feel that this program – despite its modest size – offers well-deserved recognition for young scientists at an early stage of their respective careers.

2007 Winners

Chemistry

1st Place

Kaylie Young
Brown University

Kaylie Young

2nd Place

Brian Shuler
Washington State

Brian Shuler

3rd Place

Jesse Jacobsen
University of Louisville

Jesse Jacobsen

2008 Winners

Biophysics

1st Place: Rathi Srinivas
Columbia
2nd Place: Alex Augustyn
University of Chicago
3rd Place: Molly Plovanich
Johns Hopkins

2008 Biophysics Winners

Chemistry

1st Place: Andrew Hoover
University of Illinois, Urbana
2nd Place: Jonathan Stefely
University of Notre Dame
3rd Place: Jacob Kanady
University of California, Irvine

2008 Chemistry Winners

2009 Winners

Biochemistry

1st Place: Celine Santiago
Rice
2nd Place: Chirstopher Novotny
University of Illinois, Urbana
3rd Place: David Hershey
Iowa State
Runners Up: Eric Abhold (University of California, San Diego) and Amanda Olivo (Columbia)

2009 Biochemistry Winners

2009 Chemistry Winners

1st Place: Anish Shah
Columbia
2nd Place: Yongho Park
Duke
3rd Place: James Masters
University of Notre Dame
Runners Up: Kevin Arendt (Texas A&M) and Kathleen Richert (University of Illinois, Chicago)

2009 Chemistry Winners

Biophysics

1st Place: Susanna Lynch
Calvin College
2nd Place: Noam Prywes
Columbia
3rd Place: Alex Zevin
Colorado State
Runners Up: Justin Drake (University of Texas)
and Tran Nguyen (Ohio
State)

2009 Biophysics Winners

2010 Winners

Biochemistry

1st Place: Katherine Klymko
(Columbia)
Finalists: Robert DiFazio (University of Illinois, Urbana), Max Horlbeck (Columbia), Lee Andrew Replogle (University of Illinois) and Bryan Lanning (Indiana)

2010 Biochemistry Winners

Chemistry

1st Place: Brandon Rosen
(University of Michigan)
Finalists: Justin Su (University of Texas), Jason Pflueger (Columbia), Anthony Prosser (University of Kansas) and Jessica McCombs (University of Utah)

2010 Chemistry Winners

Biophysics

1st Place: Jacob Sama
(University of Maryland, College Park)
Finalists: Sarah Husseini (Southern Methodist University) and Suehelay Acevedo (University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez)

2010 Biophysics Winners

2011 Winners

Biochemistry

1st Place: Troy Hubbard
(Creighton University)
Finalists: Anantnoor Brar (Oregon State University), Roman Camarda
(University of Washington), Sami Farhi
(UC Berkeley), Srona Sengupta (Johns Hopkins University)

2011 Biochemistry Winners

Chemistry

1st Place: Emily Johnson
(New Mexico State University)
Finalists: Matthew Bockman (Illinois Wesleyan University), Ashleigh Locke (Baylor University), Edith Nagy (Florida Atlantic University), Anthony Silvestri (Colorado State University)

2011 Chemistry Winners

Biophysics

1st Place: Rumen Stamatov
(University of Pennsylvania)
Finalists: Elise Pellman (Marquette University), Rahul Rekhi (Rice University), Hanna Thomsen
(University of Oregon), Andy Zhou
(Miami University)

2011 Biophysics Winners

2012 Winners

Biochemistry

1st Place: Susan Elizabeth Liao
(Caltech)
Finalists: Peng Xia (Brown University), Jiayi Kong (Rice University), Sar Marie Fielder (Bryn Mawr College),
Sandhya Chandrasekaran (Caltech)

2012 Biochemistry Winners

Chemistry

1st Place: Matthew Landry
(Princeton)
Finalist: Kathleen White (University of Iowa), Ashley Danielle Cardenal (University of Tennessee Chattanooga), Marie Arba (UT San Antonio), Matthew Kent Nielsen (BYU)

2012 Chemistry Winners

Biophysics

1st Place: Alexandra Long
(Caltech)
Naomi Latorraca
(University of Pittsburgh)
Finalists: David Angeles-Albores (Cornell), Amanda Witte (Calvin College), Samantha Mellin (Oregon)

2012 Biophysics Winners

2013 Winners

Biochemistry

1st Place: Margarete Diaz Caudros
(Columbia)
Finalists: Stefan Petrovic (Bucknell University), Hannah Chen (Emory)

2013 Biochemistry Winners

Chemistry

1st Place: Justine deGruyter
(New Mexico State University)
Finalists: Tho Tranm
(University of Houston),
Dongyoung Kim
(UIUC)

2013 Chemistry Winners

Biophysics

1st Place: Michael D. Clark
(Northwestern)
Finalists: Allyson Rice (UT Austin), Reid Alderson (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

2013 Biophysics Winners

2014 Winners

Biochemistry

1st Place: Jung Min Lee
(Duke University)
Finalists: Jonathan Karr (Colorado State University), Caleb Natale (Northwestern University)

2014 Biochemistry Winners

Chemistry

1st Place: Chengtian Shen
(University of California, Irvine)
Finalists: Jonathan Varelas (Providence College).
Janelle Kirsch
(Hope College)

2014 Chemistry Winners

Biophysics

1st Place: Kun Leng
(Columbia University)
Finalists: Ryan Henrici (Pennsylvania State University), Abby Knecht (Brandeis University)

2014 Biophysics Winners