Washington Research Foundation | WRF Capital

WRF Postdoctoral Fellows

WRF Postdoctoral Fellows are funded for three years at eligible institutions in Washington state to work on ambitious projects addressing major public needs.


2019 Fellows

Dr. Jeremy Baker, University of Washington Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine
Dr. Samuel Bryson, University of Washington Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Dr. Denise Buenrostro, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Dr. Joshua Larson, University of Washington Department of Physiology and Biophysics
Dr. Caleb Stoltzfus, University of Washington School of Medicine, Department of Immunology
Dr. James Thomas, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Dr. Levi Todd, University of Washington Department of Biological Structure
Dr. Jue Wang, University of Washington Department of Chemical Engineering
Dr. Alison Weber, University of Washington Department of Biology
Dr. Rachel Welicky, University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

Dr. Denise Buenrostro, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Reseach Center

What would you like people to know about you?
I was born and raised in Chula Vista, California. I am a scientist, dog lover and dance enthusiast. I received my Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in the field of cancer biology. After graduating, I moved to Seattle, Washington, in the summer of 2018 to train at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in the field of immunotherapy.

How do you describe your research to colleagues?
Opportunistic viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus, adenovirus, and cytomegalovirus raise mortality rates among hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HCT) recipients. I am generating T-cell receptors that recognize and eliminate these viruses from such patients. The goal is to improve recipients’ quality of life.

How do you describe your research to non-scientists?
Transplants of blood-forming stem cells are a standard of care for people with certain blood diseases like advanced leukemia. They can cure these diseases, but they also come with serious risks. Patients who receive a blood stem cell transplant are vulnerable to viral infections that lead to complications and ultimately death. These viruses are quite common; therefore, people with healthy immune systems can fend them off. But in immune-compromised individuals such as HCT recipients, they can be life-threatening. I am creating smart T cells that can identify and eliminate these viruses in patients following transplant. T cells are immune cells that are responsible for eliminating unhealthy cells such as pathogens and cancers. As a result, scientists have been interested in finding ways to strengthen T-cell responses against disease. This is one of the many goals that the immunotherapy field is hoping to accomplish.

What public benefit do you hope will come from your work?
Ultimately, the goal is to increase the longevity of post-transplant patients. I also hope that my research can be applied to the treatment of viral-driven cancers, which comprise of up to 20% of cancers worldwide. Fred Hutch has a centerwide initiative aimed at finding cures for pathogen-associated cancers, such as those linked to human papillomavirus (HPV) like cervical cancers and head and neck cancers. Since T cell–based immunotherapeutics have already shown promising results in the treatment of certain cancers, I believe that we can achieve similar, if not better, results in the treatment of viruses and viral-driven cancers.

What difference has the Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship made to your work?
The Washington Research Foundation will allow me to continue my research and my time in Seattle. Having their support will be invaluable for my success at Fred Hutch.


Denise Buenrostro

Dr. Denise Buenrostro


Dr. Joshua Larson, University of Washington Department of Physiology and Biophysics

What would you like people to know about you?
I am a biophysicist interested in developing and applying new technologies to better understand how complex cellular machines assemble and function. I use optical trapping and fluorescence microscopy to study the process of chromosome segregation during cell division. I am an avid outdoor adventurer, and in my free time I like to go out and enjoy all the natural splendor that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

How do you describe your research to colleagues?
Single molecule biophysics has become a powerful approach for studying how macro-molecular assemblies drive essential cellular processes. Kinetochores are complex protein machines that drive chromosome segregation during cell division. To do so they must form persistent, load-bearing attachments to dynamic microtubule tips, even as the tips assemble and disassemble under their grip. Kinetochores also sense and correct erroneous attachments and generate ‘wait’ signals to delay anaphase until all the chromosomes are properly attached. Failure of any of these essential functions results in aneuploidy, a hallmark of cancer. I have developed a novel in vitro kinetochore assembly assay that permits real-time imaging of kinetochores as they assemble on centromeric DNA using total internal reflectance fluorescence microscopy. This approach is integrated with optical trapping methods to measure the tip-coupling activity of assembled kinetochores and directly correlate kinetochore composition and dynamics with tip binding capacity; generating a precise understanding of how kinetochore assembly and composition regulate chromosome segregation and cell cycle progression and illuminating how failure of these pathways relates to human diseases such as cancer.

How do you describe your research to non-scientists?
Accurate segregation of duplicated DNA during cell division is essential to all life. In eukaryotes, duplicated chromosomes are segregated by an exquisite molecular machine, the mitotic spindle. Key to chromosome segregation is coupling of duplicated chromosomes to rope-like filaments called microtubules. Microtubules act as a molecular winch that pulls duplicated chromosomes apart. Chromosomes and microtubules are coupled by a large protein complex known as the kinetochore. The kinetochore synchronizes chromosome segregation and regulates the cell cycle to prevent daughter cells from receiving too many or too few chromosomes. Errors in this process can have catastrophic results for the organism. I use force microscopy and fluorescence microscopy to manipulate and observe how kinetochore composition and tension regulate kinetochore function so we can better understand how errors result in human disease.

What public benefit do you hope will come from your work?
Chromosome mis-segregation is characteristic of all solid tumors. The most successful anti-cancer drugs ever developed are anti-mitotics that target microtubules. Unfortunately microtubules are involved with many essential non-mitotic cellular processes leading to adverse side effects. Identifying key regulatory steps in kinetochore assembly and function has the potential to revolutionize the development of cancer treatments that specifically target dividing cells. Additionally, the methods we are developing to study kinetochore function can be adopted for studying other biological processes.

What difference has the Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship made to your work?
The WRF fellowship provides a fantastic opportunity to network with scientists that have a diverse set of skills and experience and will serve as a platform for developing new and productive collaborations. Additionally, the support provided by the WRF for my research has allowed me to continue pursuing my research interests among one of best mitosis research communities in the country here in the Pacific Northwest.


Joshua Larson

Dr. Joshua Larson


Dr. Caleb Stoltzfus, University of Washington School of Medicine, Department of Immunology

What would you like people to know about you?
At my core I am an experimentalist, I love trying to figure out how things work and if I can make them better. I am particularly interested in pushing the limits of optical technologies, like lasers and microscopes, and I am working on turning this hobby into a career. In 2016 I graduated with a PhD in Physics from Montana State University, where I spent my time playing with lasers and building imaging systems in the Rebane lab. I look forward to seeing what breakthroughs the future of science holds, and hope that I can be a part of them.

How do you describe your research to colleagues?
I am working on an interdisciplinary research project attempting to elucidate how the spatial organization of immune cells in tissue microenvironments influence disease progression and treatment outcomes. Specifically, I am utilizing multi-dimensional spectrally resolved confocal microscopy to image the local environments of immune cells, and developing software tools to extract information from these imaging datasets and interrogate cellular composition, tissue architecture, and locations of cell-cell interactions.

How do you describe your research to non-scientists?
I am trying to create 3D schematics of tissues, with cellular resolution positional information, much like the schematics that come with Ikea furniture. In addition to the numbers and types of cells in tissues, the position of cells within tissues affects both how individual cells interact, and how whole organs function. Unlike Ikea furniture, even small tissues have millions of component parts, meaning I must develop software tools, which use images of tissues, and machine learning to create my schematics. These tools simultaneously look at millions of cells and distill their information down to a few key, understandable relationships. This will allow us to understand where different types of cells are, how they are interacting with each other, and what the structure of their host tissue is.

What public benefit do you hope will come from your work?
A better understanding of how the spatial organization of immune cells influences disease will provide significant benefit, yielding advances on both the basic research and clinical levels. Developing analysis tools directly in an immunology lab will yield more user friendly software, which will place powerful quantitative analysis techniques in the hands of biologists, who will direct and shape the forefront of immunological drug discovery, tissue exploration, and diagnostics.

What difference has the Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship made to your work?
The unique nature of the WRF grant allows me greater creative freedom and to keep my tools open source, making them available to the wider scientific community. This improves the dissemination of new technology across wider fields of study, which ultimately promotes better science and collaborations in the state of Washington. The excellent facilities and broad expertise of the faculty in the Gerner lab and the Immunology department at the University of Washington, with the support network of WRF affiliates, will enable me to become a better scientist and a more impactful researcher.


Caleb Stoltzfus

Dr. Caleb Stoltzfus


Dr. Jue Wang, University of Washington Department of Chemical Engineering

What would you like people to know about you?
I have wide-ranging interests, both in and out of science. In my research, I'm most excited by applications to sustainability, but also by basic science that analyzes the optimality of biological systems to try and figure out ways they can be engineered to have more useful properties.

How do you describe your research to colleagues?
I am engineering enzymes to create a new metabolic pathway for assimilating formate in microbes. The hope is that this will allow biofuel-producing organisms to utilize formate, which is a feedstock that can be generated readily from carbon dioxide and electricity.

How do you describe your research to non-scientists?
I'm creating new microbes that can produce biofuels from formic acid in a carbon-neutral process. Formic acid can be made from carbon dioxide using electricity as an energy source. Therefore, the microbes I create could provide a new source of liquid fuels that does not require sugars from agricultural crops. Instead, this process could use renewable energy and sequester CO2 directly from the atmosphere. The underlying technology I develop could also have applications in improving crop yield.

What public benefit do you hope will come from your work?
I hope that my research will eventually contribute to two of our greatest societal challenges: mitigating climate change and improving crop yields.

What difference has the Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship made to your work?
It has allowed me to travel and learn from experts in my field around the world. The additional research funds it provides allows me to perform more experiments to try more hypotheses to give me more chances for success in my research.


Jue Wang

Dr. Jue Wang


Dr. Alison Weber, University of Washington Department of Biology

What would you like people to know about you?
I first became interested in neuroscience in high school, fascinated by the biological processes that give rise to our perceptions, thoughts, and actions. As I continue in my career, I often return to this sense of wonderment at the intricacy of biological systems. I am excited about sharing this appreciation with others — scientists and non-scientists alike — and will make outreach and mentoring priorities in my career. When I’m not sitting in front of a computer or experimental rig, I like to mountain bike, backpack, and play volleyball.

How do you describe your research to colleagues?
The primary question that motivates me is: how do organisms make efficient use of limited information to perform complex tasks? Insects are excellent model systems to investigate sparse and efficient sensing due to their small nervous systems and experimental tractability. Taking the hawkmoth as a model system, I study how information from a small number of mechanoreceptors on the wings are used in flight control. I use a combination of experimental and computational techniques to study how these sensors respond during flight and how one might optimally array a set of these sensors to best provide feedback during flight. This work will not only contribute to our understanding of receptor properties used for guiding flight in a biological system, but it also advances methods in sparse sensing, particularly for spatio-temporal inputs, which will inform the development of a variety of technologies.

How do you describe your research to non-scientists?
I’m interested in how animals sense the world around them and use this information to guide behavior. In general, an animal can only obtain limited information about its surroundings. (We can only hear a limited range of sound frequencies, for example.) I hope to understand which features of the environment an animal's limited budget of sensory resources is devoted to, and why this might be beneficial for the animal’s survival. I study these questions in the moth because it uses a relatively small number of sensors in the wing to help control its flight. My work not only gives us insight into biological systems, but will help guide the development of technologies where sensors must be efficiently allocated, particularly in engineered flight systems.

What public benefit do you hope will come from your work?
I hope that the knowledge generated from this project will guide the development of new nature-inspired technologies, not only in flight systems but also in other applications, such as medical imaging or autonomous navigation, that rely on efficient computation.

What difference has the Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship made to your work?
The WRF Postdoc Fellowship allows me to work in an outstanding computational neuroscience community at the University of Washington and further affords me the freedom to work with experts across several disciplines. The Fellowship will also allow me to attend several conferences, where I will be able to showcase the work of myself and my collaborators to a larger community. I also hope that affiliation with WRF will help me build connections and share ideas with a local community of innovators who are similarly interested in translating research insights into real-world applications.


Alison Weber

Dr. Alison Weber


2018 Fellows

Dr. Connor Bischak, University of Washington Department of Chemistry
Dr. Matthew Crane, University of Washington Department of Chemistry
Dr. Jesse Erasmus, Infectious Disease Research Institute
Dr. Max Friedfeld, University of Washington Department of Chemistry
Dr. Kameron Decker Harris, University of Washington School of Computer Science and Engineering
Dr. Luke Parsons, University of Washington Department of Atmospheric Sciences
Dr. Daniel Reeves, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Dr. Mary Regier, University of Washington Department of Bioengineering
Dr. Ian Richardson, Washington State University School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering
Dr. Emma Schmidgall, University of Washington Department of Physics

Dr. Connor Bischak, University of Washington Department of Chemistry

What would you like people to know about you?
I am a physical chemist interested in developing new technologies for interfacing biological systems and human-made electronics. I use microscopic observations to guide optimization of interfaces between biological systems and human-made electronics.

How do you describe your research to colleagues?
I am developing new devices that transduce small changes in ion concentration to large charges in electrical current for applications in biosensing and bioelectronics interfaces. Using insights gained from imaging these materials at very small length scales, I establish new design principles that lead to more efficient devices. For example, by investigating and then optimizing ion and electronic transport at small length scales, we can boost overall device efficiency and speed.

How do you describe your research to non-scientists?
There is a language barrier between how biological systems communicate and how human-made electronics transfer information that prevents these two disparate systems from communicating efficiently. Overcoming this language barrier requires new technologies that translate biological signals into electronic outputs (and vice versa) with high efficiency and speed. My work focuses on developing new interface technologies that improve communications between biological systems and human-made electronics.

What public benefit do you hope will come from your work?
The new interface platform that we are developing should help improve many technologies that rely on interfacing biological systems and human-made electronics, such as biosensing, artificial limbs, and implantable devices.

What difference has the Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship made to your work?
The WRF Postdoctoral Fellowship grants me the freedom to pursue my own interests, while providing the resources and guidance to help translate discoveries made in a research lab into viable commercial products that benefit the public.


Connor Bischak

Dr. Connor Bischak


Dr. Matthew Crane, University of Washington Department of Chemistry

What would you like people to know about you?
Since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by puzzles and the satisfaction of solving them. Science has some hard puzzles, and I’m constantly enticed by the strange phenomena that we observe. I also firmly believe that science and technology have a powerful role in producing global equity, and I’m excited to be a part of that revolution. When I’m not aligning optics in a basement, I’m a huge music nerd who loves hiking. I started playing in bands in high school, and I’ve managed to keep it up as a postdoc.

How do you describe your research to colleagues?
Over the past few decades, colloidal nanomaterials syntheses have enabled the production of nanomaterials with arbitrary compositions, geometries, and dopants distributions. However, deterministically assembling colloidal nanomaterials into devices remains challenging. When we want to attach nanoparticles, we’re restricted to lithography, which has severe limitations in materials properties. In my research, I’m building an optical printer that uses radiation pressure from lasers to assemble nanoparticles onto a surface. Because nanoparticles have size-dependent properties, using light enables simultaneous size selection during printing. I will use an optical printer to create single nanowire transistors and waveguides with single nanoparticles for quantum computing.

How do you describe your research to non-scientists?
While we’ve made huge strides in creating nanomaterials, we’ve don’t have many great ways of assembling these into individual devices—it’s pretty hard to pick up a nanocrystal 10,000 times thinner than your hair and put it next to another one! For example, if you wanted to make a transistor out of a single nanowire, right now, you’d have to synthesize billions of nanowires in a solution, drop them onto a surface, find the right one, and then deposit custom electrodes on top of it. It’s not easy. I’m developing scalable techniques to assemble individual nanomaterials into devices with light by building a 3D printer for nanomaterials. It turns out that highly focused light can induce pressure on nanomaterials, which offers the ability to assemble individual nanomaterials into devices. I’m building a tool to leverage that effect to assemble nanomaterials into arbitrary structures.

What public benefit do you hope will come from your work?
For years, we’ve heard stories about the wild possibilities of nanotechnology. With my research, I want to make these possibilities a reality, so that we can see quantum computing or nanoparticle computing within 10 years.

What difference has the Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship made to your work?
In short, the WRF Postdoctoral Fellowship made my research possible. Big, long-term projects like this research take time to troubleshoot and develop. In a climate of questionable extended funding, the WRF offers a unique chance—I couldn’t find any other three-year fellowships—to take a shot at big ideas.


Matthew Crane

Dr. Matthew Crane


Dr. Jesse Erasmus, Infectious Disease Research Institute

What would you like people to know about you?
I am a virologist interested in developing new technologies to counter emerging infectious diseases as well as training the next generation of scientists.

How do you describe your research to colleagues?
I study mechanisms of virus replication across diverse hosts and develop platform technologies that exploit these various mechanisms to express a protein of interest and drive distinct immune responses to that protein. This involves probing the virus-host interface to understand the relationship between viral factors and host responses so that we can utilize the former to shape the latter in developing interventions.

How do you describe your research to non-scientists?
I am trying to develop a variety of tools that we in the research community can use to rapidly respond to outbreaks of emerging diseases. Part of that response is rapid identification of the disease-causing agent by a variety of diagnostic strategies as well as halting transmission by deploying vaccines and therapeutics.

What public benefit do you hope will come from your work?
I hope to establish a workflow and the necessary tools to enable rapid response to emerging infectious diseases. In the process, I aim to develop vaccines and diagnostics for many established diseases in preparation for those yet to come.

What difference has the Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship made to your work?
The WRF Postdoctoral Fellowship has enabled me to pursue ideas distinct from my mentors and establish a research program that is complementary to the mission of my institute. Additionally, the network of outstanding scientists associated with the WRF is proving to be invaluable.


Jesse Erasmus

Dr. Jesse Erasmus


Dr. Kameron Decker Harris, University of Washington School of Computer Science and Engineering

What would you like people to know about you?
I grew up in Vermont and lived there until moving to Seattle. That's besides a year and a half spent in Chile where I worked on bus transportation and enjoyed exploring the Andes. I love the outdoors, and Washington has incredible mountains.

How do you describe your research to colleagues?
I study how neuron network structure determines brain function. Artificial neural networks, originally inspired by the brain, are proving to be incredibly powerful tools for machine learning. However, we still know very little about why they work so well. On the other hand, our brains are the most complex known objects in the universe and much more flexible learning machines than any extant artificial network. We have a lot to learn from biology that can inform our algorithms, while we also rely on data analysis algorithms to understand modern neuroscience experiments.

How do you describe your research to non-scientists?
I use computers to study how the brain works. This means analyzing data to explain what's going on in experiments as well as theories to explain why the neurons do what they do. Math is important, because it's the language of information, and our brains are information processing machines.

What public benefit do you hope will come from your work?
There will be many advances in machine intelligence that come from better understanding of the brain, and machine learning algorithms are everywhere these days. On the medical side, brain-machine interface devices are part of an emerging set of therapies for conditions such as paralysis and Parkinson's disease. We need more understanding to implement these therapies in the best way possible.

What difference has the Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship made to your work?
It's given me the opportunity to stay in Seattle, an area I love, and the freedom to pursue my own research agenda.


Kameron Harris

Dr. Kameron Decker Harris


Dr. Luke Parsons, University of Washington Department of Atmospheric Sciences

What would you like people to know about you?
I am a climate researcher, landscape photographer, and outdoor enthusiast. I hope my research will advance understanding related to the sources and impacts of climate variability and change.

How do you describe your research to colleagues?
I am a climate dynamicist. Specifically, I use instrumental, paleoclimate, and the latest climate model data to study the sources and impacts of climate variability at annual to century timescales. I am currently using data assimilation to combine paleoclimate and climate model data to study climate variability and its associated dynamics during the last millennium.

How do you describe your research to non-scientists?
I am interested in how internal climate variations will combine with global warming to impact humans and the environment. I hope my research will help us understand more about how future climate change will unfold: will future warming occur relatively smoothly, like a ramp, or in fits and starts, like an uneven staircase? Furthermore, how will warming and climate variability combine to impact communities and ecosystems?

What public benefit do you hope will come from your work?
I plan to study how warming and internal climate variations will combine to affect coastal ecosystems and fisheries. Specifically, I am interested in how climate change will affect toxic Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB), which can cause widespread, costly fisheries closures. Recent research suggests that warming of the ocean surface has already expanded the niche of toxic HABs. Unusually warm temperatures off the U.S. west coast in 2015 set the stage for a toxic HAB that forced closures of the commercial dungeness crab fisheries that led to revenue losses of more than $90 million. My research will focus on answering how regional climate variability will combine with global climate change to impact future toxic algal blooms and fisheries.

What difference has the Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship made to your work?
The WRF Postdoctoral Fellowship is allowing me to work with a world-renowned group of researchers at the University of Washington and the NOAA Northwest Fisheries. Specifically, the Fellowship is allowing me to learn new data assimilation techniques and giving me the opportunity to apply my climate research background to study how climate variability and change will affect the Pacific Northwest.


Luke Parsons

Dr. Luke Parsons


Dr. Daniel Reeves, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

What would you like people to know about you?
I’m a physicist working at the Fred Hutch now as a mathematical biologist. I’m constantly inspired by the complexity of host-pathogen dynamics and how a better understanding of our own immune systems might help end the AIDS epidemic.

How do you describe your research to colleagues?
Our group develops mathematical models of HIV in the context of cure. We are particularly interested in the HIV reservoir, and how proliferation of latently infected cells contributes to persistence of the virus during antiretroviral therapy. I am personally working on the interface of modeling and phylodynamics to make use of available HIV sequence and viral dynamic data simultaneously.

How do you describe your research to non-scientists?
I’m a physicist and I use mathematics to describe how the HIV virus grows and evolves within the human body. We hope to understand the complex interplay between the human immune system and the virus and our ultimate goal is to eliminate the virus and develop a cure.

What public benefit do you hope will come from your work?
The HIV/AIDS epidemic still affects millions around the globe. While antiretroviral therapy can suppress the virus, not all persons infected with HIV can tolerate, afford, or access this transformative medication. A cure for HIV is still desperately needed to decrease the global burden of AIDS, and we hope our research will contribute directly to design of the optimal HIV cure or prevention strategy.

What difference has the Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship made to your work?
The WRF Fellowship provides me an unparalleled opportunity to grow my research program in Seattle. By allowing me to work independently and leverage my strong local collaborative network, the WRF gives me the time to collect preliminary data that may grow into future grant proposals and an independent investigator position.


Daniel Reeves

Dr. Daniel Reeves


Dr. Mary Regier, University of Washington Department of Bioengineering

What would you like people to know about you?
I am a bioengineer interested in providing the biomedical community with new ways of understanding the complex interactions amongst cells and between cells and their environment. My focus is in developing technologies that are both biologically powerful and technically simple and robust.

How do you describe your research to colleagues?
My research is aimed at providing the research community with tools for precisely controlling the soluble factors around cells spatially and temporally. The methods I am developing are designed to enable studies of how populations of cells sense and respond to the types of signal patterns that govern physiological processes in the body. For example, I am working to use these tools to understand how stem cells interpret signals that control development, specifically morphogen signal gradients.

How do you describe your research to non-scientists?
My goal is to be able to bridge the differences in complexity between how we study cells in the laboratory and how cells experience their environment in the body. I am focusing on the dissolved signals that cells use to communicate with each other as the signals spread from cell to cell in tissues. Patterns of these signals coordinate cell functions so that cells can work together to perform complex processes like embryonic development, wound healing, and day-to-day tissue maintenance. The technologies I am developing will allow scientists to control and study signal patterns in the lab so that we can better understand how cells communicate and how we can help direct cells during disease and healing.

What public benefit do you hope will come from your work?
My hope is that my research will improve our ability to understand how cells communicate. It is my goal to use this understanding and the ability to control signal patterns to expand our capabilities for directing cell functions. Achieving these goals will allow us to use cells’ innate abilities to signal and respond to each other for applications like tissue engineering and treatment of diseases affecting cell-to-cell communication.

What difference has the Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship made to your work?
This Fellowship has allowed me to focus on this research, to share my work, and to learn more about making an idea into a product that others can use and benefit from.


Mary Regier

Dr. Mary Regier


Dr. Ian Richardson, Washington State University School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering

What would you like people to know about you?
As a mechanical engineer and entrepreneur at Washington State University, I am working to expand the use of clean, renewable hydrogen in the state of Washington. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, I enjoy all that this area has to offer including camping, hiking, and snowboarding.

How do you describe your research to colleagues?
I am developing a 3D-printed, lightweight liquid-hydrogen fuel tank for use in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). This tank incorporates the heat exchanger into the tank walls to reduce insulation and minimize tank mass. My research includes evaluation of suitable tank materials and permeation barriers, and the development of the liquid-hydrogen fueling system required to refuel these tanks.

How do you describe your research to non-scientists?
I am developing a lightweight liquid-hydrogen fuel tank to increase the reliability and flight times of drones. By pairing this hydrogen tank with a fuel cell, these systems can provide several hours of electricity to power fixed-wing and multirotor aircrafts enabling the use of drones for applications like package delivery, gas and power line inspections, forest fire monitoring, etc.

What public benefit do you hope will come from your work?
The state of Washington has always been a world leader in energy production and storage. Through this work I hope to expand the use of clean hydrogen for the transportation sector to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

What difference has the Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship made to your work?
The WRF Postdoctoral Fellowship has provided the opportunity to continue my research to promote hydrogen as a leading clean fuel. WRF also provides the expertise and resources necessary to commercialize my technologies to provide the largest benefit to the region.


Ian Richardson

Dr. Ian Richardson


Dr. Emma Schmidgall, University of Washington Department of Physics

What would you like people to know about you?
I'm from Minneapolis, went to school in California, England, and Israel, and for the last two years I've been living in Seattle. I love experimental physics because it's got the best toys, like lasers and liquid nitrogen. In my spare time, I play violin in the Kirkland Civic Orchestra, ski, and run.

How do you describe your research to colleagues?
The main problem in building a functional quantum computer is scalability. We know how to make one qubit, but how do we link together enough qubits to build a scalable computer? In several platforms, the problems are photon loss and low emission rates. We are tackling this by using integrated photonic chips to enhance the emission rate and route/process the light more efficiently on-chip. Our particular qubit system is the nitrogen vacancy center in diamond, but this type of integrated photonics work is currently of interest in several qubit platforms.

How do you describe your research to non-scientists?
I'm trying to build a quantum computer. It doesn't work yet because we only have one bit, but we're working on that part now.

What public benefit do you hope will come from your work?
Scalable, commercial quantum computation within the next 10 years. Barring that, I'd like to see photonics fabrication, even in odd materials, as easy as silicon electronics fabrication.

What difference has the Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship made to your work?
Networking with other scientists and innovators in the greater Seattle area has so far been a fantastic component of the Fellowship.


Emma Schmidgall

Dr. Emma Schmidgall