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Koret Fellowship Program

Catrina Nguyen

Undeclared Engineering major, Class of 2020

Over the past few decades, efforts have made to engineer proteins that are able to maintain their stability and structure at high temperatures. One such thermostable protein is UVF, which is engineered based on a natural protein named EnHD. While it is remarkable that UVF has the ability to remain stable at temperatures well over the boiling point of water, unfortunately, UVF is not a functional protein. However, since the ability to engineer thermostable proteins have been achieved, we can now examine the dynamics and structure of UVF in order to discover the reason behind UVF’s increased thermostability and use that information to engineer a thermostable and functional protein. Previous research on the dynamics of UVF indicate that a protein core with increased flexibility and fluidity plays a role in UVF’s increased stability at higher temperatures.1 Though our research, we will examine how changing the core of EnHD to completely hydrophobic, while keeping the surface same, will affect the dynamics and thermostability of the protein. We hope to find the answer to our question: is a fully hydrophobic core the key to increased thermostability in proteins?

I do not yet have a specific “dream job” in mind, but I knew I wanted a career in computer engineering before I entered college. The world is quickly transforming into a highly advanced technological world, and the technology of computer science and engineering undoubtedly made numerous advances possible in many different fields. Since the world is increasingly becoming more dependent on technology (which is not a bad thing!), I believe that I would be able to best positively contribute to the world if I studied computer science and engineering.

I also have an interest in biology, and I am considering minoring in biology. So, this research project is a perfect opportunity to see how biology and computer engineering can be combined to make new advances. In addition, since this research project will be my first time conducting research, this will be a good opportunity to explore my interest in research and consider a future career in research. I plan to attend graduate school in the future as well.