Bates student receives undergraduate research award


Akiko Doi, a Bates College senior from Kyoto City, Japan, recently won the Undergraduate Student Research Achievement Award Poster Competition in the enzymology category at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, in Washington, D.C.

Doi, a double major in biological chemistry and music, received a plaque and $500 from ASBMB. Research scientists from various institutions and research areas judged approximately 110 entrants and recognized one in each of four research areas.

The work Doi presented at the conference focused on one of two projects that she has investigated during the last two years, both of which look at how viral protein concentrations are controlled within cells. The research Doi presented featured the selective degradation of a crucial viral protein, the encephalomyocarditis virus 3C protease, by a molecule that tags a protein for degradation by the 26S proteasome.

“The quality of the research presented by these students is very high, so the judges’ selection of Akiko as one of the four winners is truly noteworthy and reflects upon her outstanding abilities as a researcher and communicator,” says her thesis adviser, Professor of Chemistry Glen Lawson. The awards go to undergraduate students who have not only carried out a substantial research project that results in new findings, Lawson says, but excelled in their ability to present and explain their research to other professional scientists.

Lawson points out that Doi has completed the equivalent of two thesis projects since she began working in his lab last summer. He plans to include one of these in a paper he will submit for publication later this year.

“To present at such a prestigious conference was exciting to begin with,” Doi says, “but to be especially recognized for my work was thrilling.” Doi says that working with Lawson has inspired her to pursue a career in biochemical-biomedical research. “Without his guidance, I could not have obtained such a strong background,” says Doi, who will attend Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to obtain a doctorate.

“Bates has afforded me opportunities that go beyond the ordinary undergraduate experience. The student-faculty interactions are superb because the faculty go out of their way to help students,” she says.

Only at a liberal arts college such as Bates, says Doi, would she have been able to pursue simultaneously her interests in biochemistry and music. A talented pianist, she has especially enjoyed performing works by Chopin, Liszt, Schumann and Mozart.

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