University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

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Ed Huttlin, Ph.D.

Current position:

Postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Medical School Department of Cell Biology


Bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Minnesota in 2003; doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 2008

University of Minnesota research:

Undergraduate research under the tutelage of Associate Professor Michael Bowser

Work highlights:

My research has focused on characterizing the thousands of proteins present in biological systems and understanding the roles that those proteins play in health and disease.

What from your experiences in the Department of Chemistry prepared you for what you currently are doing?:

Many courses, from Professor William Tolman's honors introductory chemistry to Professor George Barany's organic chemistry lectures and Professor Gianluigi Veglia's graduate-level course on enzyme mechanisms, prepared me well for a research career. Without a doubt, the single most important experience was participating in undergraduate research and completing an honors thesis in the lab of Professor Michael Bowser.

Early in my undergraduate career, I was interested in the medical applications of biology and chemistry, but was otherwise unsure of my career aspirations. Eventually, I started working in Professor Bowser's lab on a project that blended analytical chemistry with biomedical science. Our goal was to study a nitric oxide molecule, which is produced in the brain and acts as a chemical messenger that participates in key aspects of memory and cognition. Because nitric oxide is a highly reactive gas, it is challenging to measure directly. So, we set out to test a new method for detecting and quantifying nitric oxide using fluorescence. I was fortunate to pursue this as an independent research project, working closely with Professor Bowser, and learning, in the process, how to conduct scientific research from initial planning through writing and defending my work before my thesis committee. Most importantly, I discovered, firsthand, that scientific research is a creative endeavor and that I, personally, enjoyed the daily challenges it provides. Based on this experience, I shifted my sights from medical school to graduate school and have pursued a career in biomedical research. The experience and confidence I gained as an undergraduate researcher provided a strong foundation for my subsequent research endeavors.