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(back row, l to r)  Dr. Laura Magnotti (Neuro Advisor), Dr. Tom Torello (MCB & CPB Advisor), Dr. Ryan Draft (Neuro Advisor), Emma Kowal, Prof. Rachelle Gaudet (Co-Head Tutor, CPB), Dan Dou, Tess Linden, (front row, l to r)  Kuo-Kai Chin, Young Kwon, Dan Li, Ruth Kagan, Marissa Shoji, Bianca Nfonoyim, and Alexandra Rojek

Eight undergraduate concentrators from Chemical and Physical Biology (CPB)  and Neurobiology received Hoopes Prizes for their theses in May 2015.

The Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize, a Harvard College-wide honor, was established in 1982 to “grant awards to undergraduates on the basis of outstanding scholarly work or research.” The Hoopes Prize particularly recognizes scholarly writing and presentation.  Each of this year’s winners receives a cash award of $4,000.  Their nominators receive $1,500.

The CPB  and Neurobiology concentrators who won a 2015 Hoopes Prize are:

Kuo-Kai Chin (CPB) for his submission entitled ” An Investigation into Novel Enhancer Chromatin Readers” – nominated by Professor Yang Shi

Dan Dou (Neurobiology) for his submission entitled ” Plasticity of dopaminergic neural circuits in the mouse olfactory bulb” – nominated by Professor Venkatesh Murthy

Ruth Kagan (CPB) for her submission entitled ” Combinatorial molecular labeling defines a new retinal ganglion cell type” – nominated by Professor Josh Sanes

Emma Kowal (CPB) for her submission entitled ” Thinking Outside the Cell: Nucleic Acid Content of Exosomes and Extracellular Fluid” – nominated by Professor George Church

Dan Li (CPB) for his submission entitled ” Understanding the Structural and Functional Domains of BCL11A” – nominated by Professor Stuart OrkinBianca Nfonoyim (Neurobiology) for her submission entitled “Microglia Mediate Synapse Loss in Early Stage Alzheimer’s Disease Via the Classical Complement Cascade” – nominated by Professor Beth Stevens

Alexandra Rojek (CPB) for her submission entitled “A Regulatory Model of Heat Shock by Protein Assembly” – nominated by Professor D. Allan Drummond

Marissa Shoji (Neurobiology) for her submission entitled ” Characterization of the Activity of Glutamatergic Neurons in the Pedunculopontine Tegmentum During Decision-Making” – nominated by Professor Nao Uchida


Bianca Nfonoyim wins the 2015 John E. Dowling Thesis Prize

Bianca Nfonoyim (l) and Prof. John Dowling

The John E. Dowling Thesis Prize was established in 2012 to commemorate the retirement of Harvard scientist, teacher, and Neurobiology Head Tutor John E. Dowling. This award marks outstanding scientific achievement in the field of Neurobiology. The awardee receives a framed certificate and a $500 prize.

The 2015 John E. Dowling Thesis Prize was awarded to Bianca Nfonoyim for her thesis “Microglia Mediate Synapse Loss in Early Stage Alzheimer’s Disease Via the Classical Complement Cascade”.  In this thesis, Bianca investigated the role of a subtype of glia cells known to be involved in innate immune defense and inflammation response in the brain. Using a variety of cellular and molecular approaches, Bianca studied how and when mircoglia are involved in synapse loss in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease. Ultimately, she found microglia were actively engulfing synapses at very early (pre-plaque) disease stages. Bianca performed her thesis research in Beth Steven’s lab at Harvard Medical School.


Alexandra Rojek wins the 2015 Lawrence J. Henderson Prize

Alexandra Rojek (l) and Prof. Rachelle Gaudet

The Lawrence J. Henderson Prize is awarded to the student who submits the most meritorious thesis to the Board of Tutors in Biochemical Sciences.  The recipients receive a $500 book award, a framed certificate, and a copy of “Fitness of the Environment” by Professor Lawrence J. Henderson (1878-1942).

The 2015 Lawrence J. Henderson Prize was awarded to Alexandra Rojek for her thesis “A Regulatory Model of Heat Shock by Protein Assembly”, which was carried out in D. Allan Drummond’s laboratory at the University of Chicago. In her thesis, Alexandra describes exciting data that support a new model for the response of cellular proteins to heat shock; she shows that many proteins involved in the translation pathway and critical to the heat shock response do not simply coalesce into non-functional aggregates but self-assemble into massive functional complexes that may play an important function in regulating the translational response of the cell to heat shock stress.Three additional students—two Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (OEB) concentrators and one Computer Science (CS) concentrator—who are also in MCB labs received Hoopes Prizes.
Ruth Fong (CS) for her submission entitled “Leveraging Human Brain Activity to Improve Object Classification” – nominated by Professor David CoxYoung Kwon (OEB) for her submission entitled “The Genetic Basis of Parental Care in Peromyscus” – nominated by Professor Hopi HoekstraTess Linden (OEB) for her submission entitled “The role of Agouti isoforms in the evolution of convergent pigmentation phenotypes in Peromyscus mice” – nominated by Professor Hopi Hoekstra