Graduate students Cody Gillman (Gonen lab), Declan Evans (Houk lab), Troy Lowe (Backus lab), Ashley Julio (Backus lab), and Alex Stevens (Hong Zhou lab) have been selected as 2022-2023 Fowler Fellows.

Each Fellow presented a talk at the Audree V. Fowler Fellowships in Protein Science Special Seminar on Tuesday, October 7, 2022.

A strong supporter of the basic sciences and medicine at UCLA, alumna Dr. Audree Fowler (B.S. ’56 chemistry, Ph.D. ’63 biochemistry) established the Audree V. Fowler Fellows in Protein Science in 2008. Fowler was Director UCLA Protein Microsequencing Facility from 1984-1999 and is a Researcher Emeritus of the UCLA Department of Biological Chemistry. She is one of the first four women to receive a Ph.D. from the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. In 2018, the women were awarded the department’s 2018 Alumni Legacy Awards in recognition of their achievements in life, and generous support and service to UCLA. “The sciences gave me a great life. Now I want to help others have access to the same opportunities I enjoyed,” Fowler explained when she established the Fowler Fellowships endowment.

Applications for the fellowships are solicited from graduate students in the Molecular Biology Interdepartmental (MBI) Ph.D. Program, Biological Chemistry, and Chemistry & Biochemistry Departments. In addition to presenting their research at a special seminar, the recipients each receive a $5,000 award.

Alex Stevens is a fourth year Biochemistry, Molecular and Structural Biology (BMSB) graduate student in Professor Hong Zhou’s group.

Alex received his B.S. in Biochemistry from Arizona State University, where he researched G protein-coupled receptor structures in the lab of Dr. Wei Liu. Alex’s graduate work leverages the recent advancements in cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) to resolve high-resolution structures of the proteins that drive assembly and replication in double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) viruses. Because dsRNA is alien to eukaryotes and thus a useful inducer of the antiviral response, these viruses have evolved to transcribe nucleotides at transcriptional enzymatic complexes (TECs) within their proteinaceous capsids which simultaneously undergo large architectural changes. Alex investigates this dynamic within complex dsRNA viruses, like the economically important aquareovirus, to determine how their TECs and capsids change throughout their lifecycle. He has also characterized a minimally complex dsRNA virus which he plans to use as a model to probe the rules of intracellular replication amongst these ubiquitous pathogens.