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Mon 5/9, 2022, 7:30pm
Town Hall Seattle and UW Engage Science present
Lauren Sarkissian, Christina Bjarvin, and Arena Manning
UW Engage Science 2022

UW Engage Science trains today’s graduate students in cutting-edge communication skills in order to reconnect the public with science and bring about a more informed tomorrow. Join us for a look at the forefront of research in our region and meet the students who are leading the latest wave of scientific discovery.


Lauren Sarkissian: Tuberculosis Testing

Bio: Lauren Sarkissian (she/her) is an epidemiology student who will receive her Master of Public Health in spring 2022. She has spent her time at the University of Washington studying improved diagnostics for tuberculosis within the Cangelosi Lab. Her unique experience of studying infectious diseases during a pandemic makes her eager for an exciting career in public health.

Description: Tuberculosis is a respiratory disease that affects over 10 million people globally every year. Tuberculosis can be treated but requires a course of antibiotics that can last up to 9 months. Treatment failure is common and often leads to worse, resistant infections that can result in death. Lauren is working on better ways to monitor people on treatment for tuberculosis using tongue swabs. Successful treatment monitoring helps people recover faster and prevents disease transmission.


Christina Bjarvin: Storing carbon in wood buildings

Bio: Christina Bjarvin is a graduate student and researcher at the University of Washington’s School of Environmental Forest Sciences, working and studying in the Center for International Trade of Forest Products lab. Her research focuses on how constructing tall buildings out of wood can help us fight climate change.

Description: Building with wood can help us fight climate change in two ways: by storing carbon inside buildings; and by replacing materials that are harmful to the environment, such as concrete or steel. However, if we build all our buildings with wood, it might place too much pressure on our forests to supply wood. Christina’s research focuses on making our wood product use more effective by keeping them in use for as long as possible through reuse or recycling. The more wood we reuse, the less we need to take from the forest — a win for the climate and a win for the forest!


Arena Manning: Unlocking the role of different types of cells to treat epilepsy

Bio: Arena Manning (she/her) is a Ph.D. student in the Graduate Program in Neuroscience at UW. By analyzing brain activity and imaging the brain, she studies the role that different interneurons (a type of neuron) play in mediating epilepsy.

Description: Your brain is the hungriest organ in your body. Reliant on mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, your brain must generate enough energy for your neurons (the main type of nerve cell) to function. Genetic mutations that damage mitochondria cause many bodily problems including epilepsy, a common brain disorder. In epilepsy, interneurons (a type of neuron) are vulnerable to dysfunction and can even die, which has devastating consequences. By creating genetic models, Arena Manning is studying how different types of interneurons are vulnerable to mitochondrial dysfunction in childhood epilepsy.


Presented by Town Hall Seattle and UW Engage Science.

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