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CoMotion Mary Gates Innovation Scholars Program: Summer 2019 and looking ahead

Written by Debra Bouchegnies / February 19, 2020

Each summer, the CoMotion Mary Gates Innovation Scholars program funds full-time summer internships in faculty-led commercialization initiatives. The 2019 program featured ten motivated undergrad students who contributed to University of Washington researcher-led initiatives,learned about applied research, and gained first-hand experience intaking novel innovations to market.

Students brought diverse expertise in Electrical Engineering, Biochemistry, Bioresource Science & Engineering, Interactive Media Design, Linguistics, Chemical Engineering, and Industrial Engineering. The summer internship not only provides students a platform to learn, but also connects them with further funding and fellowship opportunities. In a post-program feedback report, all of the participating faculty members said their students exceeded their expectations. Faculty were astonished by the huge amount of work students accomplished during the summer and how quickly they integrated into the labs in a productive way.

The Institute for Protein Design (IPD) has participated in the internship program for over three years. This summer, intern XinYu Gu worked with them on the valuation analysis of a designed protein targeting the Interleukin23 receptor for Crohn’s disease, which is also still undergoing optimization and pre-clinical research.

Zihan Cao, an Electrical Engineering student worked with the Namatad  project. She is hopeful she will have enough results to get a paper out based on this past summer’s work, as well as add some critical power management features to the Namatad platform. “She (Zihan) has surpassed my expectations for an engineering student about to start her senior year of undergrad,” Matthew Tolentino, Assistant Professor, School of Engineering and Technology, UW Tacoma, and the project’s principal investigator said of Cao. “One of my grad students actually thought she was a graduate student after the first time she led a discussion on what she had found during one of my research lab meetings.” You can read more about Professor Tolentino’s research here.

About the program

The CoMotion Mary Gates Innovation Scholars Program provides great opportunities for undergraduate students to practice their area of expertise and gain hands-on experience in groundbreaking projects. Recent projects have covered a broad spectrum including medical devices, public health, engineering, bilingual learning and translation, early childhood education, natural sciences, and more. In addition to the research work, the Innovation Scholars meet with CoMotion staff in separate sessions to learn about various innovation-related topics.

Click here for the project descriptions for summer 2020, and learn more about the achievements of 2018 CoMotion Mary Gates Innovation Scholars advancing UW projects here.