Chemical engineering Ph.D. student Sung Hyun “Sarah” Lee won the W.H. Peterson Award for Best Student Presentations in the poster category at the 2022 American Chemical Society National Meeting. The award is given by the ACS Division of Biochemical Technology.

Lee, who works in professor Matthew Lazzara’s Cell Signaling Engineering Lab, won for her project, “Distillation of global sensitivity and sloppiness analysis results explains consequences of low plasma membrane RAF abundance in EGFR-ERK signaling.”

In a Linkedin post, Lazzara wrote Lee’s graduate research aims to understand cell signaling and cancer mechanisms through the use of computational models and advanced sensitivity analysis methods that help identify the most important determinants of signaling.

Cell signaling is the biochemical process cells use to make decisions about virtually everything they do — migrate, differentiate, survive, die and more. Signaling is critical to normal development and health, and aberrant signaling leads to numerous diseases, including cancer. Thus, the ability to engineer signaling processes or intervene effectively in aberrant signaling has huge medical implications, according to Lazzara’s lab website.

Lazzara is a professor of chemical engineering and biomedical engineering and he is a member of the UVA Cancer Center. His lab integrates experimental and computational methods to study fundamental aspects of cell signaling regulation and applied aspects of cell signaling, including how well drug therapies target particular signaling pathways in cancer.