UI Engineering Students Takes Campus, State, Regional Honors

Friday, April 12, 2013

By Lin Larson

UI Student Employee of the Year, Andrew Michalski sits at a laboratory bench in the Eckstein Medical Researchh Building.Andrew Michalski is the University of Iowa's Student Employee of the Year—and recipient of state and regional awards—for his work on cystic fibrosis research. Photo by Tom Jorgensen.


It’s National Student Employment Week, and this year Biomedical Engineering student Andrew Michalski is the university’s 2013 Student Employee of the Year, as well as the state of Iowa winner and the regional honoree selected by the Midwest Association of Student Employment Administrators.

“Each year, more than 8,000 students hold part-time and work-study positions across campus,” says Cindy Seyfer, senior associate director for the Office of Student Financial Aid. “They make remarkable contributions to the university, and often find that working part time serves their academic and career goals, too.”

Seyfer says Michalski is the UI’s first regional winner since 2000. He and his fellow awardees were honored at an April 10 reception hosted by UI President Sally Mason.

Michalski’s work as a student research assistant is helping investigators understand cystic fibrosis and eventually develop new treatments for the inherited lung disease.

“Andrew has taken ownership of portions of projects that include development of stereological methods to assess alveolar surface area in pig models of cystic fibrosis,” says David Stoltz, assistant professor of internal medicine who nominated Michalski for the honor. “He was the first in our lab to successfully measure airway resistance in cystic fibrosis and control pigs.”

The Menomonee Falls, Wis., native is a second author on one forthcoming scientific paper and will be co-author on two additional manuscripts. His work also provided preliminary data for a grant that will help the lab continue its work.

The project requires unusual hours, short notice, and consistent performance under stressful conditions. Michalski’s colleagues praise his willingness to take on late-night and early-morning monitoring duties to help out the project, and say his generosity, professionalism, strong research, and can-do attitude keep everyone motivated.

Zhu Awarded a Certificate of Appreciation

Zihan Zhu, a graduate student in the Departments of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and Biomedical Engineering, was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation.

A research assistant nominated by Kevin Campbell, professor of physiology and biophysics, Zhu has learned techniques for cell culture, gel electrophoresis, Western blotting, and other skills that make her an asset to the lab.

The Zhejiang, China, native joined a postdoctoral fellow in showing that amino acid residues Thr-317 and -319 of the a-dystroglycan protein are responsible for its ligand binding activity, a discovery that may help guide therapies for muscular dystrophy.

Zhu’s work also was crucial to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where she’s listed as a co-author.