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Biochemistry major Catherine Chia named Freshman Medalist

Submitted by Diana Knight on March 10, 2022 - 5:06pm
Catherine Chia

From the thousands of undergraduate students at the University of Washington, one freshman, one sophomore, and one junior are selected each year for the prestigious President’s Medalist Award.

The Department of Chemistry congratulates Catherine Chia, who is majoring in biochemistry, neuroscience and anthropology, who has been named the 2020-21 freshman medalist. Chia was selected by a committee for her high GPA, rigor of classes and number of Honors courses. She is in the University Honors Program, completing the Interdisciplinary Honors track.

Chia will be recognized along with the sophomore and junior medalists by University President Ana Mari Cauce and Provost Mark Richards at a special reception, where each recipient will receive their medal in front of family, friends and mentors.

Chia is from Redmond, WA, and got a firsthand look at the UW’s Seattle campus — and its many opportunities — when her older brother became a Husky. That glimpse helped shape her decision to attend the UW.

With a goal of attending medical school, she found herself naturally drawn to studying biochemistry and neuroscience.

“I love the mechanistic nature of both subjects, where I can learn to look for sources of a disease from the tiniest mechanisms of the body,” explains Chia, who is balancing her two science majors with anthropology. That subject serves as “an important reminder that innovation and development should always be aimed at helping others.”

Outside the classroom, she’s an undergraduate research assistant in Prof. Jonathan Posner’s lab (Chemical Engineering), which is developing a diagnostic test for hepatitis C. The supportive community of the lab has built Chia’s confidence as a scientist and made her feel more at home at the UW.

Chia’s volunteer work includes helping elementary school students develop reading skills, leading summertime science activities at the Pacific Science Center and mentoring her fellow students in the UW Honors Program. As a future physician, Chia hopes to improve people’s lives in a holistic way. She’s passionate about rectifying education disparities and plans to continue volunteering in learning spaces.

“Receiving this honor is not just for me,” Chia says, “but also for everyone who has been there for me along the way.”

Read about the 2020-21 sophomore and junior medalists in the original post by Undergraduate Academic Affairs, February 17, 2022.