Research Awards




Undergraduate Awards

Graduate Student Awards


Sponsored by the Dr. Scholl Foundation, this award goes to a graduate student who has performed outstanding research as demonstrated by the submission/publication of a first author manuscript in a peer-reviewed journal.

Zac Lunak

Zac LunakZac Lunak won this year’s Scholl Award for his paper, “A quinol oxidase, encoded by cyoABCD, is utilized to adapt to lower O2 concentrations in Rhizobium etliRhizobium etli, like many bacteria, aerobically respires through a variety of terminal oxidases. The quinol oxidase, encoded by cyoABCD, is of particular interest because its role in the cell is not understood in organisms that already contain cytochrome c oxidases. In his paper, Zac and his mentor, Dr. Dale Noel, demonstrated that this quinol oxidase (Cyo) was important for efficient adaptation to lower oxygen concentrations by analyzing the ability of a cyo mutant to grow in various oxygen concentrations. Furthermore, the transcription of cyo is increased when cells are subjected to lower oxygen concentrations. This work has led to a better understanding of how bacteria adapt to their surrounding environment, and specifically how they adapt to fluctuating oxygen concentrations, a key attribute to many soil bacteria.



This award recognizes exceptional academic achievement by a graduate student in the Ph.D. program. This award will be based on grade point average (GPA), research activity and scholarly achievements.


Alexis Onderak

Alexis OnderakAfter graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in 2012, this year’s recipient, Alexis Onderak continued her studies at Marquette, where she currently holds a 4.0 cumulative GPA in the biological sciences graduate program. Initiating a novel research project on the role of RNA surveillance on mammalian cell health, Alexis’s research seeks to understand how impaired RNA processing and degradation affects cell proliferation and differentiation. To explore this, she has focused her studies on the RNA helicase Skiv2l2, an essential component of nuclear non-coding RNA processing and degradation, that is dysregulated in cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). She has found that loss of Skiv2l2, either through transcriptional pathways or RNAi, results in increased cell differentiation and cell cycle arrest, suggesting that proper RNA processing and degradation is necessary to maintain cells in a proliferative state. Alexis received a travel fellowship to present this research at the Rustbelt RNA Meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and has also given a poster presentation at the RNA Society Meeting in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition to her academic pursuits, Alexis has enjoyed acting as a teaching assistant for introductory biology courses and volunteering within the Marquette community. She hopes to start a career as a forensic scientist upon graduation.




An annual scholarship from the Dr. Catherine Grotelueschen Scholarship Fund for Biology is awarded to provide financial assistance toward the summer research of a graduate student.

Yi Liu

Yi LiuYi Liu won this year’s Grotelueschen Scholarship for summer research. In vivo, the microtubule (MT) system is crucial for almost all different cellular events. Generally speaking, the MT system is composed of MTs and various microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs). Binding of distinct MAPs to the MTs will have significant impacts on either the assembly or disassembly rate of MTs. Therefore, the interplay of MTs and MAPs mostly decides the fates of MTs among growing, pausing and shrinking. Studies have demonstrated that cells can actively change the MT-MAPs interplay when necessary, however little is known about how external stimuli can affect the interplay. Chlamydomonas is one type of unicellular green algae that is sensitive to numerous environmental stimuli. Using a transgenic strain expressing an essential MAP (EB1) tagged with a fluorescence protein (FP)—-EB1-FP, Yi was able to monitor the dynamics of EB1-FP decorated MTs under different extracellular stimuli, and found out that physical compression, illumination, and pH shockall can drastically alter the MT-EB1 interplay. Interestingly, cells in different metabolic states show distinct sensitivity to the stimuli. Over the summer, supported by the Dr. Catherine Grotelueschen Scholarship, Yi will focus on quantification of the difference of EB1-FP dynamics under various metabolic states.



Four travel awards are awarded annually on a competitive basis to graduate students who present their work as first author at a scientific conference.


Yi Liu

Yi Lui

Mentor: Dr. Pinfen Yang

American Society of Cell Biology- Philadelphia, PA
“Induced changes in the dynamics of EB1-mNeonGreen and microtubules in Chlamydomonas” and “The dynamics of EB1 in Chlamydomonas flagella"

Xiaoyan Zhu

Xiayan Zhu

American Society of Cell Biology- Philadelphia, PA
“The Pleiotropic Phenotypes of a Chlamydomonas Mutant Defective in a Flagellar Nucleoside Diphosphate Kinase”(Also awarded the Graduate Travel Award from ASCB)

Michael Mashock

Michael Mashock
Mentor: Dr. Krassi Hristova
SETAC North America 35th Annual Conference- Vancouver, BC, Canada
“Determination of the primary component of toxicity of CuO Nanoparticles towards Saccharomyces cerevisiae”

Alexis Onderak

Alexis Onderak

Mentor: Dr. Jim Anderson

Rustbelt RNA Conference- Pittsburgh, PA
“The RNA helicase Skiv2l2 works to maintain pluripotency and proliferation in stem cells







Biological Sciences Department

Marquette University, Wehr Life Sciences
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