2021-2022 Fowler Fellows

Weixian Deng is a sixth year, Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology (MBI-BBSB) graduate student in Dr. Kathrin Plath and Dr. James Wohlschlegel’s groups. Prior to coming to UCLA, he studied the molecular mechanism of plant blue light photoreceptor, Cryptochromes, regulating Arabidopsis photomorphogenesis and received B.S. and M.S. degrees at Jilin University in China.

Weixian’s graduate work focuses on the bottom-up proteomics methodology development and understanding the mechanism of induced pluripotency stem cell reprogramming (iPSC). It has been lacking of robustness in order to capture nuclear large molecules (DNA, RNA and protein) interacting proteomes through mass spectrometry. Weixian developed and optimized several techniques for determining DNA-protein, RNA-protein and nuclear protein-protein interactions. He has been combining these proteomics techniques and genomics approaches to investigate the molecular mechanism of how Yamanaka factors transform somatic cell types to iPSCs and to understand how long non-coding RNAs regulate gene expression in early human embryo development.

Yi Xiao (Sean) Jiang is a fourth year Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology (BBSB) graduate student in Dr. David Eisenberg’s group. Sean received his B.Sc. in Biochemistry at McGill University, where he studied polyketide synthases with Dr. Martin Schmeing.

Sean’s graduate work focuses on uncovering the structures of amyloid fibrils from neurodegenerative diseases. Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is the second leading cause of presenile dementia; FTLD-TDP, the major disease subtype, is characterized by neuropathological deposits of TDP-43 protein. Sean extracted fibrils from brains of four FTLD-TDP patients and determined their structures by cryo-EM. Unexpectedly, all fibrils examined were composed of TMEM106B, a lysosomal transmembrane protein previously identified as a genetic risk factor for FTLD-TDP. This observation suggests that amyloid involvement in FTLD-TDP is of TMEM106B, rather than TDP-43. Sean’s findings will refocus attention on the pathogenic role of this largely ignored protein, and perhaps open a pathway to structure-based therapies for this common form of brain degeneration.

Maria Flores is a fifth year Biochemistry, Molecular and Structural Biology (BMSB) graduate student in Prof. Jose Rodriguez’s lab. As an undergraduate at Indiana University Bloomington, Maria characterized cell membrane coated nanoparticles and their interactions with cells in Prof. Yan Yu’s lab. She received her B.S. in Biotechnology in 2017.

Maria’s graduate research focuses on prion-like conformations in the cytoplasmic polyadenylation element binding (CPEB) protein 3. CPEB3 is an RNA binding protein that is involved in cellular memory and assists in synaptic plasticity in mammals. It’s prion-like domain allows its conversion to its functional aggregated state in stimulated synaptic environments- allowing for localization of protein synthesis. Maria utilizes cryo-electron microscopy to investigate CPEB3 aggregates in their isolated states and within cells. Her work aims to understand how functional prion-like proteins differ structurally from their pathogenic counterparts in their folds and localization within cells.

Carter Lantz is a fifth year Biochemistry, Molecular and Structural Biology (BMSB) graduate student in Dr. Joseph Loo’s lab. Carter graduated from Baylor University in 2017 with a B.A. in University Scholars. His research at Baylor focused on using mass spectrometry methods to characterize lipid compounds formed by Chlamydomonas reinhardtii in nitrogen starved conditions.

Carter’s research aims to investigate how mass spectrometry techniques can be utilized to return relevant information about the primary structure and higher-order structure of intact proteins and protein complexes. He has investigated how analysis of internal fragments resulting from top-down mass spectrometry (TD-MS) can increase the sequence coverage of proteins. Using TD-MS and ion mobility-mass spectrometry, he has characterized the interaction of amyloid proteins and an aggregation inhibiting compound known as CLR01. In addition, he has found that performing TD-MS on protein complexes with collisionally activated dissociation can reveal higher-order structural aspects of those protein complexes.

Logan Richards is a fifth year Biochemistry, Molecular and Structural Biology (BMSB) student in Dr. Jose Rodriguez’s group. Prior to coming to UCLA in 2017, Logan received his B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from UCI, where he studied the structure and thermodynamics of P450 enzymes with Dr. Thomas Poulos.

Logan’s graduate work focuses on the application of fragment-based phasing techniques to electron diffraction data of proteins, peptides, and other peptide-derived molecules. Paths to overcome the phase problem for electron diffraction are currently limited and many datasets require novel phasing solutions. A central part of this methodology is the development of new ways to generate structural fragments both from previously determined structures and through computational structure prediction methods. Logan’s work has helped determine a number of protein and peptide structures and his continued goal is to enable structure determination from electron diffraction data by providing a broadly applicable solution to the phase problem.

Previous Fowler Fellows

2020         Jiahui Lu (Eisenberg lab), Callie Glynn (Rodriguez lab), Janine Fu (Loo lab)
2019          David Boyer (Eisenberg lab), John Muroski (Loo lab), Orlando Martinez (Clubb lab)
2018          Michael Hughes (Eisenberg lab), Kanishk Jain (Clarke lab), William Barshop (Wohlschlegel lab), Yuxi Liu (Yeates lab)
2017          Brendan Amer (Clubb lab), Jeffrey Vinokur (Bowie lab), Anna Sahakyan (Plath lab)
2016          Henry Chan (Feigon lab), Smriti Sangwan (Eisenberg lab), Nicholas Woodall (Bowie lab)
2014          Dan McNamara (Yeates lab), Jena Quick-Cleveland (Guo lab), Nicholas Wu (Sun lab)
2013          Alex Jacobitz (Clubb lab), Alexander Patananan (S. Clarke lab), Carly Ferguson (Loo lab)
2012          Benjamin Kuryan (Carey lab), Letian Xie (C. Clarke lab), Anni Zhao (Eisenberg lab)
2011          Timothy Anderson (Clubb lab), Ian Barr (Guo lab), Soohong Kim (Weiss lab)
2010          Zeynep Durer (Reiser lab), Rachel Senturia (Guo lab), Zurita-Lopez (S. Clarke lab)
2009          Luki Goldschmidt (Eisenberg lab), Kristofer Webb (S. Clarke lab), Sheng Yin (Loo lab)
2008          Nathan Joh (Bowie lab), Neil King (Yeates lab)