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Student Spotlight: Mackenzie Coston

Newsletter issue:

Mackenzie Coston is a senior in the Department of Biology and was the inaugural Jerry M. Sudarsky Memorial intern.

Mackenzie always knew she wanted to attend the University of Washington.  Her mom was a proud husky and her curiosity for the life sciences was a perfect match for UW.  At first, she wanted to study Bioengineering, but has since taken a keen interest in cell biology and genetics.

Mackenzie’s interest in cell biology really started to build when she took BIOL 200, an introductory course on cellular, molecular, and developmental biology. Wanting to learn more, she started taking more and more biology courses, including one most recently about cancer biology, where she experienced Biology’s active learning education firsthand. 

Mackenzie recalls, “we did more group work than in my previous science classes.   We had discussions with Dr. Crowe, read primary literature, watched videos, and dove into some of the ethics around Biology too.  It was really helpful to learn with peers and see all the different perspectives we had in class.”

Biology faculty quickly recognized Mackenzie’s passion and selected her to be the inaugural Jerry M. Sudarsky Memorial intern.  Established by Alexandria Real Estate Equities in honor of their co-founder Jerry Sudarsky, the internship places UW Biology students at local biotechnology nonprofits and companies around Seattle.  Mackenzie was placed at the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) where she worked with the tuberculosis drug discovery group.  While at IDRI, she developed an assay to measure mitochondrial membrane potential disruption in eukaryotic cells after they had been treated with anti-tuberculosis compounds – a study with important safety implications for future tuberculosis drugs.  At the end of her internship, she presented to the entire tuberculosis drug discovery group, IDRI’s vice presidents and seasoned scientists included.

Mackenzie also currently works in Cabernard Lab studying asymmetrical cell division in drosophila neuroblast cells.  Her current research project focuses on the role of antiporters in asymmetric cell division, and she collects data on abnormal cell division phenotypes.  The research has been interesting, with the added excitement of being in the new Life Sciences Building. 

She says, “it’s great being in such a collaborative, shared space with other professors and students.  It really gives you a chance to say hi and learn more about other people’s research.”

In the future, Mackenzie wants to gets her Masters degree and become a genetic counselor. It combines her love for clinical work and basic sciences, and gives her the chance to have a positive impact on people’s treatment plans.  UW Biology is proud to have students like Mackenzie in our department!