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Levinson Emerging Scholars Award Winners Announced

Submitted by Casey Renneberg on December 6, 2019 - 11:09am

The Levinson Emerging Scholars Program supports talented and highly motivated UW juniors and seniors who want to pursue creative and advanced bioscience and related research. Four of our students, Ian Engstrom, Dane Johnson, Jonathan Perr, and Dennis Toepker, have received the 2019-20 Levinson Emerging Scholar Award.

Ian Engstrom

Ian Engstrom is a junior at the University of Washington, hailing from Lincoln, Massachusetts, and majoring in biochemistry. He was first introduced to research in high school while interning at the Harvard Forsyth institute. Since then he has interned at the MIT Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and now works at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Lucas Sullivan’s lab investigating metabolic constraints on cancer cell proliferation, specifically targeting the amino acid aspartate. When he is not in the lab he is either in class or on the water. Ian rows for the University’s crew team and has raced in and won PAC-12 and National Championships. He also loves to play guitar and work with his hands; woodworking, timber framing, and blacksmithing when he is home. He would like to thank his mentor, Lucas Sullivan for his support in and out of the lab, as well as Dr. and Mrs. Levinson for their continuing support for undergraduate research.

Dane Johnson

Dane Johnson is a senior studying chemistry and biochemistry. In the summer of 2017, he joined the Cossairt Lab to help investigate the syntheses of indium phosphide quantum dots (InP QDs). InP is a promising alternative to toxic state of the art materials for light harvesting and emitting applications. His previous project focused on factors affecting the kinetics of InP syntheses. Currently, he is exploring methods to create blue-emitting InP QDs from new cluster precursors. Outside the lab, Dane enjoys music and working as a CLUE Chemistry tutor. After graduation, he plans to attend graduate school and pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry. Dane would like to thank the Cossairt group for the support and research opportunity. He is thrilled to be a Levinson scholar and is grateful for Art and Rita Levinson’s support.

Jon Perr

Jon Perr is a senior majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Applied Mathematics. Winter quarter of his freshman year, Jon began studying super-resolution microscopy with the Vaughan Group at the University of Washington. Jon quickly developed a passion for biological research and has since become involved in a wide variety of research projects that range from super-resolution imaging to epigenetics. After applying super-resolution Expansion Microscopy (ExM) to the study of neuronal development in Drosophila with the Parrish Lab at University of Washington and researching epigenetic gene regulation with the Wang Lab at Stanford University School of Medicine, Jon transitioned to devising an ExM-based method for investigating the epigenetic regulation of gene expression. Jon is also working with the Kueh Lab – University of Washington to reveal the epigenetic control of immune cell differentiation with super-resolution microscopy. After graduating, Jon plans to enroll in a doctoral program to study Molecular and Cell Biology or a related field. Jon is incredibly grateful for the mentorship provided by both the Vaughan Group and his collaborators. Jon would also like to thank Dr. Arthur Levinson and Mrs. Rita Levinson for their generous support.

Dennis Toepker

Dennis Toepker is a Junior at the University of Washington studying Biochemistry. Ever since joining the Gu lab during his Freshman year, he has focused on the engineering and repurposing of chemically induced dimerization (CID) systems as in vivo drug molecule detectors. His most recent work focuses on flanking circularly permutated green fluorescent proteins with molecule-specific CID systems to design fluorescent-based biosensors. He aims to later develop a generalizable methodology for designing fluorescent-based drug biosensors in hopes of expanding the currently existing small molecule detection toolkit. In his free time, Dennis enjoys playing sports, video games, and coding. He thanks his PI Dr. Gu and his mentor Yuxin Pan for their guidance, as well as Dr. and Mrs. Levinson for generously supporting undergraduate research.

Congratulations to Ian, Dane, Jon, and Dennis! For more information regarding the Levinson Emerging Scholars Award, visit: