Congratulations to Bingqian Guo, winner of this year’s Karen E. Wetterhahn Graduate Fellowship in Chemistry!
The Wetterhahn Graduate Fellowship is given each year to an advanced graduate student in chemistry. It honors the memory of Professor Karen E. Wetterhahn, a former chemistry professor at Dartmouth, well-known for her research on toxic metals and how they cause cancer. She was the founding director of Dartmouth’s Toxic Metals Research Program. Professor Wetterhahn was also known for her strong support of women in science and was a co-founder of Dartmouth’s Women in Science Project.
Guo grew up in Jinhua, China. She was inspired by a high school chemistry teacher to pursue a degree in science. Guo studied at the University of Science and Technology of China, earning a BS in physical chemistry and winning several scholarships. While she considered attending graduate school at different universities in Canada and the United States, Guo chose Dartmouth because of the research possibilities here. She wanted to concentrate her research on applications of physical chemistry to biological systems. She was also impressed with the beauty of the surrounding region when she came to Dartmouth.
Guo is a member of Professor Dale F. Mierke’s lab. Her research focuses on the interaction of proteins, specifically NEMO and IKKβ, which play a role in the body’s immune response. Guo is researching the possibility of finding a molecule or peptide that can bind to NEMO in order to block it from binding to IKKβ in cases in which individuals have certain types of autoimmune diseases or cancer. In such cases, the proteins constitutively bind together when they should not. Preventing this binding will hopefully improve the life quality of sufferers of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and some kinds of cancer. Guo recently presented a poster about her work at the 2012 Signaling Pathways in Cancer Symposium at MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. She has also been a teaching assistant during three terms for general chemistry and during two terms for physical chemistry.
As well as conducting research, Guo likes to spend time outdoors hiking and snowboarding. She really enjoys the White Mountain area. Guo also draws, and she is working on illustrations for a children’s book with a lab colleague. In addition, she has participated in the local COVER home repair projects in White River Junction, Vermont.
Guo plans to pursue a career in research after graduation, and she hopes to remain in the New England area. She says that she likes being in a smaller town, and she appreciates the close-knit Dartmouth community. She is excited to have been chosen for the Wetterhahn Fellowship and observes that it will help support her research on protein binding in order to hopefully help those affected by autoimmune diseases or cancer.
In supporting the work of young chemists such as Guo, the Dartmouth community honors Professor Wetterhahn’s dedication to her field and her encouragement of women in science.
by Elizabeth Molina-Markham