Katherine Xue, an evolutionary biologist and doctoral candidate in the Bloom Lab within the Basic Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is among 13 recipients of the 2018 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in graduate studies in the biological sciences.
Nominations for this prestigious annual award are solicited internationally. This year’s awardees come from the University of Vienna and from across the United States — from Harvard Medical School to Stanford University. Their diverse research studies include how flu evolves, the impact of sleep on the brain, and the biological mechanisms that maintain HIV infection.
Xue, a Ph.D. candidate in Genome Sciences at the University of Washington, studies the evolution of influenza viruses and their consequences for human health. In her doctoral studies, she has combined high-throughput sequencing technologies with evolutionary principles to characterize influenza’s rapid evolutionary dynamics.
“I feel lucky to be part of the stimulating, collaborative research environments at Fred Hutch and the University of Washington,” Xue said. “It’s a great place to work on questions in basic evolutionary biology and to apply these evolutionary principles to understand problems that affect human health.”
She is also pursuing a UW graduate certificate in Science, Technology and Society Studies, through which she seeks to position her research in a broader societal context and communicate it to a wider general audience. To this end, she co-founded the UW Genomics Salon, a biweekly forum for discussing issues at the intersection of genomics and society. She also presented her work at Town Hall Seattle and wrote an article, published in The Conversation, about how flu changes within the human body may predict future global trends.
2018 Weintraub Award recipients
Ph.D., Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Harvard Medical School
James Samuel Byers
Ph.D., Developmental Biology; Stanford University
Lillian Brumer Cohn
Ph.D. candidate, Molecular Biology; The Rockefeller University
Ph.D., Microbiology; Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ph.D. candidate, Integrative Structural and Computational Biology; The Scripps Research Institute
Ph.D. candidate, Biomedical Sciences; University of California, San Francisco
Adam George Larson
Ph.D., Tetrad Program (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Developmental Biology and Genetics); University of California, San Francisco
Ph.D., Molecular and Cellular Physiology; Stanford University
Claudio L. Morales-Pérez
Ph.D., Neuroscience and Biophysics/Molecular Biophysics; UT Southwestern Medical Center
Ph.D. candidate, Cognition, Behavior and Neuroscience; IMP/ Vienna Biocenter/University of Vienna
Niladri K. Sinha
Ph.D. candidate, Biological Chemistry; University of Utah
Eric Van Dang
Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, Immunology Program; University of California, San Francisco
Ph.D. candidate, Genome Sciences; Fred Hutch/University of Washington
Xue graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in chemical and physical biology. While at Harvard she also served as associate editor of Harvard Magazine, its alumni publication.
“This work has helped me reflect upon my roles and responsibilities as a scientist, communicator, and citizen,” she wrote in a summary of her research.
Named for the Hutch’s Dr. Harold Weintraub, the award honors his scientific leadership in the field of molecular biology and his legacy as an extraordinary mentor, colleague, collaborator, and friend. Weintraub helped found the Basic Sciences Division at Fred Hutch and died of brain cancer in 1995 at age 49. Since the award began in 2000, there have been a total of 264 recipients, including this year’s honorees.
“Hal was one of the most outstanding scientists of his generation, as well as one of the most unpretentious,” said Dr. Mark Groudine, molecular biologist and special adviser to the Director’s Office at Fred Hutch who was instrumental in establishing the award. “Hal had the knack of identifying the important questions in biology and designing experimental approaches that were creative, simple, and elegant. The Weintraub Award not only honors Hal’s scientific leadership but also his passion for supporting scientists at the very beginning of their careers.”
The awards will be presented May 4 at a scientific symposium at the Hutch. At that time, awardees will present findings from their respective research projects. The award recipients will receive a certificate, travel expenses, and an honorarium from the Weintraub and Groudine Fund, established to foster intellectual exchange through the promotion of programs for graduate students, fellows, and visiting scholars.
Kristen Woodward, a former associate editor at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, had been in communications at Fred Hutch for more than 20 years. Before that, she was a managing editor at the University of Michigan Health System and a reporter/editor at The Holland Sentinel, a daily in western Michigan. She has received many national awards for health and science writing. She received her B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University.