WU student shares biophysics research in Philadelphia

by University Communications,

Chosen from a crop of undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students, Jay Howard ’14 won a travel award to attend the 57th annual meeting of the Biophysical Society in Philadelphia Feb. 2-6.

“I’m excited to hear about the wide variety of research that’s happening in biophysics,” says Howard, a physics major who interested in becoming a professional research scientist.

At Willamette, Howard works alongside professor David Altman to study molecular motor myosin, a protein able to generate motion within the cell. Howard says the proteins play a key role in maintaining the organization and healthy function of cells.

Errors in myosin function, he adds, have implications in diseases ranging from heart disease to Usher’s syndrome — the leading cause of deafblindness.

Howard is attending the conference with Altman. In Philadelphia, Howard will present a poster that details his work building an optical trap and developing assays to study molecular motor myosin.

“Biophysics is the flavor of science that excites me the most, so to have an enormous number of representatives from different areas of research in one place is a phenomenal opportunity,” Howard says.