2018 Norma Stoddart Prize Lecture

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Alumna Nako Nakatsuka (PhD ’17 Andrews/P Weiss Groups), an ETH Zürich postdoctoral fellow, receives the 2018 Norma Stoddart Prize. 

Nobel Laureate Sir Fraser Stoddart presented the award at Nakatsuka’s Stoddart Lecture on November 28, 2018, at the UCLA California NanoSystems Institute.

Nakatsuka, currently a postdoc at ETH in Zürich with Professor Janos Vörös in the Laboratory of Biosensors and Bioelectronics, was selected by a committee of her peers as the recipient of the 2018 Norma Stoddart Prize for Academic Excellence and Outstanding Citizenship, which is open to all current and recently graduated research students and fellows in the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. 

The prize was established in 2004 by UCLA Emeritus Professor of Chemistry Sir Fraser Stoddart and his family to honor his late wife Dr. Norma Agnes Stoddart

Photos from the event can be viewed below and the full photo gallery is available here.  

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Nobel Laureate SIr Fraser Stoddart presented Dr. Nako Nakatsuka with an engraved glass award after her lecture.
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(Left) Dean of Physical Sciences Professor Miguel Garcia-Garibay made remarks at the event.  (Right) Before her lecture, Dr. Nako Nakatsuka was presented with a certificate and award by her former co-advisor Professor Anne Andrews and Sir Fraser Stoddart.
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Nakatsuka’s 2018 Stoddart Lecture was titled “Aptamer-Functionalized Field-Effect Transistors for Serotonin and Dopamine Sensing”.

Nakatsuka received a B.S. in chemistry with a bioengineering focus from Fordham University in 2012 and when on to receive her Ph.D. in chemistry with a specialization on biophysics from UCLA in December 2017 working with Professors Anne Andrews and Paul Weiss. As an undergraduate student researcher, Nakatsuka harnessed peptide-based biosystems for tissue engineering, drug delivery, and gene therapy and during her Ph.D. career she designed, fabricated, and validated DNA aptamer-chip-based technologies to investigate brain chemistries. 

In 2018, Nakatsuka was first author with Andrews as the senior author on a paper published in Science about their team’s development of a novel system to track brain chemicals. In 2017, she received a competitive travel award for her presentation at the Brain in Flux: Genetic, Physiological, and Therapeutic Perspectives on Transporters in the Nervous System meeting in France and she was chosen to serve as one of two student processional marshals for the 2017 Doctoral Hooding Ceremony. Nakatsuka also starred in a video produced by BuzzFeed for Pfizer, “Kids Teach Science,” and illustrated a children’s chemistry book titled “A is for Atom: ABCs for Aspiring Chemists.” During her time at UCLA, she was also a proud member of the UCLA Triathlon Team and after a bad bike crash in 2014, founded a website to raise cyclist awareness. 

Article and photos by Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.