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Research Excellence

Sophie Young receives the 2024 Excellence in Undergraduate Research Award.

​​​​​​​The 2024 CSH Excellence in Undergraduate Research award was granted to Sophie Young, a chemistry and biochemistry major who has conducted pioneering research on inflammatory caspases, enzymes that play a key role in modulating the body's immune response. The award acknowledges her innovative and exceptional achievement engaging in original research at the undergraduate level.

Young became involved in research as a Freshman, working on a joint project with Dr. Carey Southern and Dr. Caitlin Karver to develop and enhance a biochemical enzyme assay to monitor the activity of inflammatory caspases. Young was tasked with determining the optimal activation conditions for multiple caspases, as well as profiling them. This work led her to design her own research project in 2023 investigating activation for a particular enzyme that had demonstrated anomalies in the lab. The entirely original inquiry reflects Young's perpetual curiosity and dedication to research, while the project itself led to critical findings on inflammatory caspase substrates, on which Young is currently preparing a manuscript for publication in addition to co-authoring two others on adjacent topics.  Young was further awarded a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) term at Syracuse University, during which she continued collaborating with her instructors at DePaul.

Young has had the opportunity to present her research on multiple occasions, including at DePaul's annual STEM Undergraduate Research Showcase and at the Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium (CAURS), where she has presented three times and was awarded Top Poster in Chemistry in 2023. She also presented at the American Chemical Society in August 2022 and at the Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society in February 2024, sharing her work with the wider research community.

Beyond the above, Young is also a committed mentor, having trained at least seven other students since her Sophomore year - including developing guides and data analysis instructions so mentees can feel comfortable working in the lab. Her remarkable success has enabled her to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of California-San Diego, which she begins in the Fall. A heartfelt congratulations to Sophie Young!