Sophomore Allison Wagman Wins Undergraduate Research Poster Competition

Allison Wagman, winner of the undergraduate poster competition at The University of Texas at Austin, is wearing a white blouse with purple flowers and a dark purple skirt. She is "hooking 'em".Sophomore Allison Wagman recently won first place in the Undergraduate Research Competition hosted by the Cockrell School’s Student Engineering Council.

Allison’s poster, “Yeast Promoter Mutations Modeled by Nucleosome Affinity”, showcased her research conducted alongside Professor Hal Alper to create novel synthetic parts for cells.

Her research involved creating new promoters for yeast using a model-guided approach.  A promoter is the fragment of DNA that initiates transcription in cells.  Promoters are important since they have control over how strong a gene (and the encoded protein) will be expressed in a cell.  As a result, these components are critical for any metabolic engineering effort.  In this work, a model was used to predict and design new DNA sequences that can act as synthetic promoters.  Allison worked on the synthesis and characterization of these new promoter elements.  This work opens the door to pure de novo design of synthetic parts for cells—a central goal of the field of “synthetic biology.”

“We are truly proud of Allison and her accomplishments at this poster session,” said Professor Alper.  “Since joining our lab under a year ago, Allison has quickly become an integral part of the project and has made significant contributions.  Her poster and this award was a testament of the hard-work and dedication that Allison brings each day to the lab.”




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