Aspen Gutgsell has been awarded the 2020 Diane Harris Leadership Award for exemplary public service as a doctoral student in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. The department created this award in honor of Diane Harris former student services manager who retired in 2007 after 30+ years of service. Ms. Harris held her position with great dedication and loyalty and each year faculty nominate graduating student(s) who served the department well in addition to being leaders among their peers.
Aspen works in the lab of Dr. Saskia Neher. Her research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of action of an enzyme responsible for clearing fat from the blood, lipoprotein lipase. Her project aims to develop new therapeutics for lowering plasma triglyceride levels for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Aspen followed the biochemistry track.
Aspen Gutgsell joined the Biochemistry and Biophysics department in 2015. During her time in our department, she served as a student representative on our Graduate Education Committee (GECO) and was co-chair of a departmental student seminar series. She has enjoyed volunteering for community science outreach events where she participated in the annual North Carolina DNA Day as an instructor to teach interactive science lessons to high school students across the state. She volunteered at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham and was also an instructor for monthly lab-based science workshops for homeschool children. In addition to her volunteer work, she was elected to chair a Gordon Research Seminar in Lipoprotein Metabolism in 2020. Aspen also received a predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association to fund her graduate research in drug discovery. She completed her PhD on March 30, 2020. Aspen is planning to continue working in the field of drug discovery and will be moving to Sweden in the summer of 2020. Congratulations Aspen!