VERMILLION, S.D. -- A novice in the area of experimental molecular biology when she began working for Alexandre Erkine, Ph.D., more than a year ago, but Yun “Winnie” Zou managed to grasp the research concepts quickly, which not only helped her earn a prestigious national scholarship, it also enabled her to earn Student Employee of the Spring Semester at The U.
Zou was presented with the award at the Andrew E. Lee Memorial Medicine and Science Building. As a USD student, Zou has worked for Erkine and the division of Basic Biomedical Sciences since January 2008, including overseeing a variety of laboratory experiments.
"Yun is an outstanding student representing undergraduate research at USD," stated Erkine, who nominated Zou for the award. "In a short period of time, she learned how to amplify a target DNA sequence from the genomic DNA for cloning purposes, how to manipulate genes in vitro and how to insert them back into the chromosome."
Zou, the daughter of Xiaoli Zou, a university professor in China, and Nan Jiang, an associate professor in mathematical sciences at USD, moved to Vermillion from China prior to her freshman year of high school. She has excelled in both the classroom and the research laboratory at The U earning a Mickelson Scholarship to attend USD and, earlier this year, Zou was named USD’s 10th Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship recipient.
According to Erkine, Zou's abilities in the laboratory rival the abilities of graduate students who have greater experience. He believes that Zou's future work will significantly impact biomedical issues.
"The results of Yun's work will have an impact on such areas of molecular biomedical sciences as cancerogenesis, development of approaches to fight progressions of neurodegenerative disorders, and finding ways for better recovery from myocardial infarctions,” he added.
The Student Employee of the Semester Award is presented by the Career Development Center. This award recognizes the contribution and exceptional performance of student employees.