Congratulations to Robb Welty for being selected for the 2016 Elson Fellowship in honor of Dr. Elliot Elson
Mr. Welty received his B.S., double majoring in chemistry and biochemistry, from the University of Minnesota Duluth. During that time, he began doing research studying the effects of molecular crowding on diffusion using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS). After graduation he continued working in the same laboratory and in 2013 graduated with a M.S. in chemistry. He joined the Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Washington University the same year as part of the Computational & Molecular Biophysics program.
Mr. Welty is pursuing his thesis work under the mentorship Dr. Kathleen Hall in the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics. In the Hall lab, Robb has been able to combine his interest in fluorescence spectroscopy with his fascination with the fundamental properties of biomolecules. His research project focuses on characterizing the tertiary folding of a 60-mer ribosomal RNA fragment. In recent years it has become apparent that functional RNAs rely on intricate tertiary interactions in order to fulfill their biological roles. A better understanding of the driving forces, conformational equilibria, and kinetics that define RNA folding processes will help provide context and support for the numerous fields that involve functional RNAs.
By his second year in the lab, Robb had identified a multi-state ion mediated folding pathway in his ribosomal RNA model system. He is currently working on elucidating the kinetic and thermodynamic relationships between folded states, and how these folding processes can be mediated by interactions with different ions and its ribosomal binding protein. After completing his doctorate Robb plans to pursue a post-doctoral position.
On March 3, 2017, Mr. Welty presented his research as the Elson Fellow and was presented with the Elson Fellowship Award plaque. A small reception was held afterward in McDonnell Sciences, room 264.