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Amber Vogel sitting in office space

Amber Vogel selected as 2018 Mathews Fellow in biochemistry to study drug discovery

By Debbie Farris

Amber Vogel, biochemistry and biophysics Ph.D. student

Doctoral student Amber Vogel is the 2018-19 Christopher and Catherine Mathews Graduate Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics. She was selected among many talented students and is the fourth woman scientist to receive this honor.

This Fellowship is awarded each summer to a student entering the second year of the Ph.D. program. The award is based on academic merit, teaching acumen and research potential. Last year’s Mathews Fellow was Isabelle Logan who worked in Fritz Gombart’s Lab.

The endowed fellowship was created in 2015 thanks to the generosity of emeritus professor Chris Mathews and his wife Kate to help recruit and retain top-notch students in the Biochemistry and Biophysics Ph.D. program. The gift has been leveraged through the Provost Graduate Fellowship Match Program, a partnership between the OSU Foundation, the Biochemistry and Biophysics Department and The Graduate School.

“Congratulations to Amber on this well-deserved honor, and also thanks to Chris and Kate for their highly impactful support of our program,” said P. Andrew Karplus, head of the biochemistry and biophysics department.

Chris Mathews has been had a significant and positive impact on the department and the program through his leadership as department chair for nearly 25 years, his extensive research in the area of nucleotide metabolism, his publications—including co-authoring a highly regarded biochemistry textbook, and his continued contributions as mentor, teacher and scholar and colleague to advance the department’s mission.

Amber did not study science during her undergraduate education at Rogue Community College in Grants Pass, Oregon, where she earned an Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree. After graduation, she enrolled at Portland State University where she began studying science for the first time as a chemistry major with a focus in biochemistry.

At Portland State, Amber worked in the lab of Dr. David Stuart synthesizing iodonium salts for use in the development of novel synthetic routes to benzene substitution patterns mimicking natural products. She also spearheaded a project to determine the chemoselectivity and robustness of iodonium salt formation reactions.

Amber earned top honors for her scholarly achievements, ranking in the 98th percentile on the organic chemistry American Chemical Society (ACS) national test, received the Most Outstanding Senior Award by the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry and graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from PSU.

Upon graduation, Amber arrived in Corvallis ready to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry and biophysics at Oregon State. She rotated between the labs of biochemistry professors Joe Beckman, Ryan Mehl and Afua Nyarko. She decided to join the lab of Dr. Nyarko with plans to dive into work to pursue novel routes to drug discovery targeting intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) using NMR, thermodynamics and molecular dynamics simulations. Amber’s current focus is on IDPs relevant in cancer development.

After earning her Ph.D., Amber plans to continue life as a researcher working on drug development. She hopes to discover a cure to her own disease, type 1 diabetes.

The College of Science is extremely grateful to both Chris and Kate Mathews for their generous support of the Biochemistry and Biophysics graduate program at Oregon State.