Assistant professor of Biology and Biological Engineering, Dr. Rebecca Voorhees, has been selected as the 2024 KNI-Wheatley Scholar in Nanoscience for her proposal on "Single particle cryo-EM analysis of biological nanomachines".
The KNI-Wheatley Scholarship provides $25,000 for an early-career faculty member at Caltech to pursue novel research in nanoscience. Dr. Voorhees will use the funds to conduct research using "single particle cryo-EM to study two recent biological discoveries from [her] lab: how membrane proteins are made in mitochondria, and how unassembled protein subunits are degraded in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). A detailed understanding of the rules governing membrane protein biogenesis and quality control will provide the insight for [her] long-term vision of manipulating protein flux, first in cells, then in organisms, and finally as a strategy to treat human disease."
In addition to these scientific goals, a portion of the funds will be used to host a campus-wide symposium for all transmission electron microscope (TEM) users across disciplines, to encourage collaboration and community among electron microscopists at Caltech.
Rebecca received her B.S. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry
from Yale in 2007. She went on to perform her graduate work as a
Gates Cambridge Scholar in Venki Ramakrishnan's lab at the Medical
Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB), where she
studied the molecular mechanism of protein synthesis using X-ray
crystallography. As a Wellcome Trust postdoctoral fellow, Rebecca
joined Manu Hegde's lab, just down the hall in the LMB's Cell Biology
division. In Manu's lab Rebecca used single particle cryoelectron
microscopy (cryo-EM) to study how secreted and integral membrane
proteins are specifically targeted to the endoplasmic reticulum.
Rebecca moved to Caltech in July 2017, where she joined the Division
of Biology and Biological Engineering. Rebecca's work has been
recognized by the Searle Foundation, the Pew-Stewart Scholar's
program, the NSF CAREER program, and the Heritage Medical Research
Institute. In 2019 she was the recipient of an NIH Director's New
Innovator's Award and in 2023 she was named one of the 31 inaugural
Freeman Hrabowski Scholars at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Learn more about the KNI-Wheatley Scholarship in Nanoscience and our former recipients here.