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Gordon Younkin

Mentor: Georg Jander


Northwestern University – B.A. in Chemistry, Environmental Science, September 2012 – June 2016

Awards and Honors


  • Dennison Graduate Fellowship (2018-2019)
  • Northwestern University magna cum laude (2016)
  • ACS Undergraduate Award in Analytical Chemistry (2015)
  • Dr. Kesava K. Bhogaraju Global Health Fellowship (2014)

Research Experience:

Laboratory Technician
University of Utah (Coley/Kursar lab) — 2016-2018
UPLC-MS of small molecule extracts from leaves; data analysis and management in Python, R, SQL

Independent Undergraduate Research
Wagenius lab, Chicago Botanic Garden — 2015-2016
quantitative analysis of Echinacea reproductive patterns in prairie remnants

West Nile Surveillance Intern
Evanston Health Department — 2015
quantitative daily surveys of Culex mosquito populations and West Nile Virus prevalence

Public Health Field Research
U. of Dar es Salaam and Northwestern U. — 2014
qualitative research on solid waste pollution

Current Research Activities:

Cardiac glycosides are defensive plant metabolites that act as allosteric inhibitors of Na+,K+-ATPases, making them toxic to insects and mammals in high doses. However, lower doses are used to treat congestive heart failure and are actively being invest­igated as treatments for cancer and other diseases. I plan to use the crucifer genus Erysimum as a model for understanding cardiac glycoside biosynthesis and function. My research has two primary aims: i) Understand the role of cardiac glycoside structural diversity including isomeric structure, glycosylation, and acylation in altering potency and specificity as Na+,K+-ATPase inhibitors, and ii) Identify genes involved in cardiac glycoside biosynthesis.

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