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.

Michael Mashock

Michael MashockMichael Mashock won this year’s Scholl Award for his paper, “Copper oxide nanoparticles inhibit the metabolic activity of Saccharomyces cerevisiae”. In his work, Michael investigated if the inhibitory effect of engineered copper oxide nanoparticles (CuO NPs) to the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae metabolic function is related to distinct physiochemical properties such as size, crystal structure, dissolution, aggregation, and agglomeration. Copper ions were observed to be released from CuO NPs when suspended in complex yeast growth media. These soluble copper ions were shown to have toxic effects on cells at high concentrations. This study contributes to the field of nanoparticle toxicity toward eukaryotic organisms, which ultimately contributes to the question of nanoparticle safety and environmental toxicity.



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.


Yi Liu

Yi Liu

Yi Liu’s research examines the dynamic aspect of flagella related microtubule system in the green algae, Chlamydomonas. He began his doctoral research investigating the role of protein phosphorylation in flagella assembly by using a ciliary structural phosphoprotein, RSP3. In 2013, Yi and other Yang lab members published their work on biochemistry protocols developed specifically to study flagella. As this project was cooking, Yi started an additional project trying to find “how does microtubule end binding protein (EB1) target to cilia tip” as EB1 was not reported to ride the intraflagellar transport train. To tackle this, Yi took an in vivo imaging approach, looking at EB1-GFP (EB1 tagged with Green Fluorescent Protein) in the flagella of live cells. Surprisingly, EB1-GFP were distributed in a pattern that was not reported before by immunostaining. To improve the image quality, Yi replaced GFP with a novel and brighter fluorescent protein, Neongreen (NG), to achieve higher signal-to-noise ratio. In a collaboration with Dr. Lechtreck at U Georgia, EB1-NG was found to travel bi-directionally in flagella driven by a novel diffusion modality. In addition to the flagella project, Yi used EB1-NG as an imaging tool to overcome the autofluoresence in the green algae cell body, and for the first time observed microtubule dynamics. This discovery allowed him to look at a microtubule system that has never been examined before! Several novel findings came out immediately. Yi found that under stresses, microtubule dynamics froze and EB1 changed its behavior. Interestingly, the changes were [Na+]ex dependent. Yi’s work is a breakthrough for in vivo imaging and could significantly expand our knowledge about microtubules. Yi and his advisor, Dr. Pinfen Yang have filed a provisional patent for using RSP3-NG flagella as fluorescence standards for quantitative fluorescence microscopy. This easy-to-use fluorescence quantification method is much needed for in vivo imaging. Yi’s talents extend beyond his breakthroughs at the lab bench. He is passionate about communicating biology research to the general public. You can see the incredible videos he has made about his work using time-lapse, animation, and microscopic recording on the department’s YouTube channel, where they have been used for promotion and summer research program activities.



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.

Yao Shi

Yao ShiRice is the most important staple food in the world -relied on by more than half of the global population. Cold stress (<15 degrees C) is one of the most important abiotic stresses that negatively affect overall development of rice, and leads to considerable yield loss. In the past two decades, the molecular mechanism of low temperature resistance has been extensively studied, mainly using the model plant, Arabidopsis. Yao and the Schlappi lab have identified a promising gene that may hold a key to cold-tolerance. This summer, Yao plans to use this award towards establishing the involvement of this gene function in cold response in rice cultivars. Yao will cold-stress a series of transgenic rice and Arabidopsis plants to determine if overexpression or knock-out transformed varieties will increase or decrease the overall cold resistance.


This fellowship is awarded periodically to provide financial assistance toward the summer research of a graduate student.

Alexis Onderak

Alexis OnderakRNA surveillance functions as a quality control mechanism to prevent the detrimental accumulation of aberrany RNAs. Mammalian nuclear RNA surveillance requires the helicase SKIV2L2, which targets certain RNAs to the exosome for processing or degradation. Alexis Onderak's research focuses on the role of nuclear RNA surveillance during cell proliferation. This summer, Alexis plans to test if SKIV2L2 binds histone mRNAs for their turnover, thereby aiding mitotic progression. Through a series of experiments, Alexis hopes to understand which RNAs are direct targets of SKIV2L2-mediated RNA surveillance and to shed light on how the loss of nuclear RNA surveillance leads to mitotic arrest.



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


Doug Lyke

Doug Lyke

Mentor: Dr. Anita Manogaran

The Allied Genetics Conference - Orlando, FL

Xinrui Wang

Xinrui Wang

Mentor: Dr. Robert Fitts

Experimental Biology -San Diego, CA

Britt Wyatt

Britt Wyatt
Mentor: Dr. Martin St. Maurice
ASM Microbe - Boston, MA

Yao Shi

Yao Shi

Mentor: Dr. Michael Schlappi

American Society of Plant Biologists - Minneapolis, MN







Biological Sciences Department

Marquette University, Wehr Life Sciences
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