Biotechnology Program


Biotechnology Scholarship Criteria

The scholarship(s) are to be awarded to students who:

  • have attained junior or senior status at the time of the award (apply as a sophomore or junior)
  • are majoring in Biotechnology
  • have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2
  • Research requirement: applicants must satify one of the following
    -enroll in a research project the first semester of the award in
    -Biology, Chemistry, Plant & Earth Science or Animal & Food Science OR
    -have completed an undergraduate research project in Biotechnology OR
    -participate in or have completed an internship in Biotechnology.
  • Consideration may be given for demonstrated financial need.

    Scholarship Recipients

    Kirk Twaroski 2008-2009 Recipient

    Iodinated Capsaicin Analogs: New TRPV1 Antagonists

    Kirk performed research with Dr. Rusterholz the Fall of 2007 and Spring of 2008. He has been working toward synthesizing an iodinated antagonist for the TRPV1 pain receptor pathway. Capsaicin is the active ingredient in peppers. It has a pungent, hot, and sometimes painful taste. The receptor that it binds to is a calcium ion channel protein called transient receptor potential channel, vanilloid subfamily member 1 (TRPV1). It can be activated by compounds such as capsaicin and another natural compound called resiniferatoxin. Resiniferatoxin has been found to be 10,000 times more potent than capsaicin at activating the TRPV1 receptor. These compounds are said to be agonists because they open the ion channel to open, allowing calcium to flow into the cell, relaying a pain response to the brain. When attempting to label resiniferatoxin with an isotope of iodine it was discovered that the compound became an antagonist. An antagonistic compound is one that has a higher affinity for the receptor of the TRPV1 protein than an agonist but does not cause the ion channel to open. Using the structure of capsaicin as a basic layout to the structure, Kirk has been working toward making an iodinated antagonist for the TRPV1 receptor. The compound will then be sent off to be tested for antagonistic activity.

    Victor Piazza 2007-2008 Recipient

    Victor performed research Fall 2007 with Dr. Scott Ballantyne. They are attempting to characterize proteins present in GW bodies in the cell of the frog Xenopus laevis. GW bodies are sites responsible for RNA mediated gene silencing (RNA interference) and RNA storage.

    Spandan Shah 2004-2005 Recipient

    Spandan Shah was an international student from India who graduated Spring 2005. Spandan managed to maintain a GPA > 3.5 while working more than 10 hours a week, taking 18-21 credits a semester his last few semesters, and battling Meningitis. Spandan performed research the summer of 2004 with Dr. Ballantyne. Spandan hopes to establish collaborations between US and Indian institutions involved in Biotechnology and to work to improve the lives of millions of unfortunate Indians.

    Rachel Dietsche 2003-2004 Recipient

    Rachel was the first recipient of the Biotechnology Annual Scholarship. Rachel graduated in December of 2004. She was a very hardworking student that took credit overloads for several semesters, yet graduated with a GPA > 3.9. Rachel performed research at the University of Minnesota the summer of 2003, and worked on various research projects in the Biology Department at UWRF. Rachel's senior seminar was "Detection Limit of Trinucleotide SSR Markers for Soybean Genotyping"

    How to Contribute

    Donations to the Biotechnology Annual Scholarship and the Biotechnology General Fund are greatly appreciated. Donations to the scholarship fund helps us provide more and larger scholarships. Contributions to the Biotechnology General Fund are used for general expenses at the discretion of the program director and support the program in various ways such as hosting invited seminar speakers. When making your donation please specify the fund. To donate please visit the UWRF Foundation

Contact Us

Biotechnology Program
253a Centennial Science Hall