Amanda Steele, a graduating senior in biomedical engineering, is the 2013 recipient of the Ronald and Lydia Baskin Research Award. This award is given annually by UC Davis College of Biological Sciences to a graduating senior in recognition of outstanding original research in the biological sciences. She will receive a prize of $1,000 and a commemorative medal at the commencement ceremony on June 14, 2013.

Amanda began her research career studying cellular force generation in Dr. Soichiro Yamada’s biomedical engineering lab in 2011. Her research project focused on a mechano-sensing protein called zyxin and its dependence on its LIM domain to localize to focal adhesions. She hypothesized that the LIM domain as a molecular probe could determine the amount of force generated at cellular force-bearing sites. By characterizing the zyxin-LIM domain interactions, Amanda has helped the Yamada Lab improve understanding of cellular traction forces in several physiological processes such as wound healing.

This past November Amanda joined Dr. Nam Tran’s lab (Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine) and became involved with a research project focusing on the development of a novel quantitative analysis method for predicting acute kidney injury (AKI). Currently, methods for diagnosing and predicting the severity of AKI are inadequate in critically ill patients. Under Dr. Tran’s tutelage, Amanda developed and validated a new quantitative analysis method for several biomarkers of AKI including serum creatinine and neutrophil gelatinase associated lipocalin in severely burned patients.

Amanda aspires to one day better someone’s life through scientific discovery, innovation, and clinical research. She plans to apply for graduate school this upcoming fall. Once she leaves UC Davis, she will continue pursuing her goals and using the tools she has acquired to bridge the gap between clinicians and engineers.