1 Elise Cutts
1 - Elise Cutts
Height: 5-8
Year: Fr.
Hometown: Portland, Ore.
High School: Sunset
Position: G

SCIAC All-Academic Team (2015-16)

Research and STEM activities

Summer 2014: Paid Summer Internship at Oregon Health and Science University

                I worked in Dr. Leslie Muldoon’s lab in the Blood Brain Barrier program at OHSU studying chemotherapeutics capable of traversing the blood brain barrier. Specifically, I was attempting to determine whether or not a new monoclonal antibod, Obinutuzumab, was more effective than its predecessor at treating lymphoma metastases into the brain. I cultured human lymphoma cells and transplanted them into rat brains to simulate metastases, which I then treated and observed. Because of the work done in Leslie Muldoon’s group, the clinicians associated with her group have some of the longest survival rates for certain kinds of brain cancers in the country.

Summer 2013: Volunteer Summer Internship at Oregon Health and Science University

                As part of a program called PSI (Partnership for Scientific Inquiry) offered by OHSU, I conducted research on yeast metabolism and oxidative response in Dr. Peter Mayinger’s lab. PSI introduced me to scientific literature and how to properly participate in journal clubs and how to present research, and I had a chance to apply these skills during my summer research. My project was to create a strain of yeast lacking a specific piece of a metabolic pathway responsible for oxidative stress response and to study this strain’s response to different conditions. The work had applications to cancer research, because a similar mechanism governs oxidative stress response in cancer, and new drugs that target tumor vasculature cause oxidative stress in tumors.

Summer 2015: National Youth Science Camp

                I applied and was chosen as one of two Oregon delegates to the National Youth Science Camp, a free camp provided for by the state of West Virginia in which two high school seniors who have demonstrated exceptional potential in STEM are chosen from every state to attend a free month long science camp before their freshman year of college. Interestingly, one of my Caltech professors, Dr.  Kenneth Libbrecht, is also an alum of this camp. I spent camp in the National Radio Quiet Zone in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, where I attended daily lectures from visiting scientists and engineers, participated in science workshops, and built confidence through outdoor activities like backpacking and spelunking.

2014-2015: Physics and Engineering for Girls

                After realizing that many of my friends didn’t really know what I meant when I said I wanted to study physics (one asked if I was going to be a “physician,” and go to medical school), I started an outreach program to bring free physics and engineering education to elementary school aged girls in my district. I started the after school program at just one low-income school in my district, but the program was so successful that I ran the program twice in one year, and worked with other schools and volunteers to coordinate programs at four schools in 2014. I planned lessons that each explored a basic topic in physics and provided a chance for hands-on exploration through engineering projects with the intention of not only exposing girls to subject material, but getting them excited about science and, most importantly, thinking of themselves as future scientists and engineers. Every lesson we would discuss what kinds of careers required knowledge of the topic we were studying, and emphasis was placed on building the girls’ confidence in their scientific ability.

2014-2015: Chicktech

                I was nominated for a program called Chicktech in which girls from around the Portland with potential or talent in technology were selected to attend workshops on coding and electrical engineering. I also applied to a mentorship program through Chicktech, in which I was paired with a mentor, Yori Kvitchko, with whom I worked to develop my coding skills further. With encouragement from Yori and Chicktech, I became one of about four girls out of about forty students to enroll in java programming at my high school. Yori helped me with my java coursework and I worked on a number of additional projects with him as well to further grow as a programmer....

...Founded the Physics and Engineering for Girls outreach program in the Beaverton School District...Completed the IB Diploma program...A National Youth Science camp delegate.

Prior to Caltech
Awarded the 2015 Bonnie Cashin Prize for imaginative thinking...Class Salutatorian...A National Merit Scholarship semifinalist.

Daughter of Theresa.