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Chemistry Doctoral Student Wins 2023-2024 Dissertation Completion Award

Portrait of Karen Ramirez Quintero

A doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry, Karen Ramirez Quintero, has won a 2023-2024 Dissertation Completion Award from the UGA Graduate School. These highly competitive awards provide funding from the graduate school to complete dissertation research and writing by the end of the spring, 2024 semester. Karen was the only student from chemistry to receive this award this year.

Karen joined the chemistry department with the intention of studying protein-protein interactions with Professor Urbauer. Her research in the Urbauer lab is focused on two complex biological signaling systems, G-protein coupled receptor (GCPR) signaling and calcium signaling via the stromal interaction molecule 2 (STIM2). These share a common regulatory feature, as they both are co-regulated by direct interactions of regulators of G-protein signaling (RGS) proteins and the ubiquitous calcium signal transducing protein calmodulin. Karen is using physical methods (fluorescence, NMR, circular dichroism spectroscopies) and molecular biology to study the interactions among these proteins. Her research should assist in understanding from a structural perspective the physical underpinnings of these sophisticated regulatory systems.

Karen has earned significant research related recognition, including the Doctorates Abroad award from the Colombian Government (‘Doctorados en el exterior, Ministerio de Ciencias, Colombia’), the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Travel Award from the Protein Society to present her research results, and a Summer Research Grant from the UGA Graduate School. Karen has also been recognized for her outstanding contributions to the chemistry department instructional efforts, earning both the Center for Teaching and Learning Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award and the Chemistry Department Whitten Award.

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