Bothell resident participates in scholars program at UW

Bothell resident Katherine Lacy. - Contributed photo
Bothell resident Katherine Lacy.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Bothell resident Katherine Lacy, a student at Willamette University, spent her summer conducting hands-on scientific research through the Amgen Scholars Program at the University of Washington.

More than 3,600 people from across the nation applied to the program, but only 255 — including Lacy — were accepted.

“It was definitely a very valuable experience because of the connections I made and the people I met,” said Lacy, a math major. “I took away a new confidence that I could do research and I could contribute.”

The Amgen Scholars Program provides fully funded scientific research experiences to undergraduate students at 10 universities in the United States and three in Europe. The program launched seven years ago.

For her project, Lacy engaged in research titled, “Excited State Trans-Cis Isomerization of Azobenzene: A New ab initio Molecular Dynamics Approach.”

Lacy examined how the azobenzene molecule changed shapes when hit with light under the guidance of professor Xiaosong Li.

“It has a ton of different applications as a photo switch,” said Lacy. “(The research) has different biological applications to open and close ion channels and to control the nature of surfaces.”

In addition to her work in the lab, Lacy attended the annual Amgen Scholars U.S. Symposium, where students learned about biotechnology and drug discovery development, met and networked with other Amgen Scholars and talked with leading scientists.

“Last year, I was trying to decide if I should major in math or science. Through this experience, I learned there’s an intersection between the two. That’s where a lot of exciting research is happening,” said Lacy. “This opened my eyes to even more possibilities. It has helped me to solidify the next step to take.”

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