After graduating from Wilson, Jeanine Amacher (2003) attended college at the University of Oregon, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics, with minors in Biochemistry and Biology. The summer after her freshman year, Jeanine began work in Dr. George Rayfield's biophysics laboratory as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) student. She continued to do research in Professor Rayfield's lab throughout her tenure at Oregon, looking at the membrane protein, bacteriorhodopsin, in the form of gelatin-based films, as an information storage device. After spending a summer backpacking through Europe post-graduation, Jeanine worked in Dr. Sue Aicher's lab at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) as a research assistant. Professor Aicher is interested in neuronal pain pathways; specifically, Jeanine's work focused on rat corneal neurons.

In 2008, Jeanine moved to New England, and started a Ph.D. program at Dartmouth College. She is currently in her 5th year of graduate school, and anticipates defending her thesis this fall. After a year of lab rotations, she joined Dr. Dean Madden's biochemistry lab in the summer of 2009. Overall, they are interested in developing therapeutics and understanding the cellular mechanisms of the genetic disease Cystic Fibrosis. Aside from biochemistry, they are a structural biology lab, and Jeanine has been using X-ray crystallography to investigate the selectivity determinants of an important protein-protein interaction domain, the PDZ domain. Jeanine says, "PDZ domains are ubiquitous protein domains that scaffold huge macromolecular complexes, coordinating important signaling processes within the cell. For the ion channel implicated in the disease Cystic Fibrosis, cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), PDZ domain-mediated interactions dictate CFTR's trafficking throughout the cell." In her work, she has discovered cryptic selectivity determinants that potently enhance PDZ domain binding preferences, suggesting a pharmacophore model of binding. "The long-term hope," Jeanine adds, "is that other groups can use these insights to design therapeutics for additional PDZ domains, which are currently being targeted for a variety of human diseases, such as cancer, pain, drug and alcohol addiction."

After graduate school, Jeanine plans to continue in biomedical research, starting a postdoctoral position in the next year. "Hopefully back on the west coast", she adds. Her ultimate goal is to be a tenure-track faculty member at a research university.

Choosing influential teachers and mentors from Wilson was easy for Jeanine. "Mr. Ron Zaraza introduced me to the world of physics, and it was his influence that started me on my current trajectory. Likewise, Ms. Diana Fisher was the most amazing math teacher (specifically, Calculus) who I have ever had. Both Ms. Fisher and Mr. Zaraza were absolutely instrumental in molding me into the scientist and thinker I am today. Also, Ms. Carolyn Wood, former Olympic champion turned master of English literature, was a big part of my high school career. In addition, Ms. Joan Kvitka provided an introduction to world cultures, both inside and outside the classroom. I went on an immersion trip to China with Ms. Kvitka during my sophomore year; it was my first trip outside the U.S. Finally, while I only had Mr. George Penk for AP Chemistry, he was a fantastic teacher and mentor during my senior year."

For words of wisdom for the current Wilson students, Jeanine says, "while I had a very good high school experience, I think it's important for everyone to recognize two important things. First, you don't know everything at ages seventeen and eighteen. In fact, you know quite little. Your parents, while you may not believe it, know much more than you, and it will be a lot of fun to get to know them as fellow adults in the coming years. Second, be proud of your intellectual merit. Ten years out of college, it will be the students who embraced learning with ambition and motivation who are the most successful. Also, perhaps the most important thing of all - Go Ducks!" Click here to contact Jeanine.