Kenneth A. Johnson, Ph.D Lab | People


Member Profiles

Jaiwen Li

Jaiwen Li

I was born in Chengdu, Sichuan province, Southwest of China. After a middle school biology lecture, I was not only astonished but also inspired with tremendous fascination and curiosity about the biological world. Since that time, my interests in Biology and Chemistry have only grown larger.

Two years before my high school graduation, my father was diagnosed with hypertensive nephropathy. While everyone in my family was depressed, I made up my mind to attend university in the United States where the world's top biochemical and biomedical education is provided. I believe it was more meaningful for me to try to study the biochemical basis of diseases that will not only help my father but eventually benefit all other patients. Soon after, I was offered with scholarship for undergraduate study in the United States at the age of 16.

As an undergraduate student at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, I have chosen to double major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) and Chemistry. Through my liberal arts training, I have received a broadly based education in science coursework, laboratory and the humanities. I have conducted independent research in the laboratory of Dr. Brenda Kelly. My work centered on study of γ-glutamylcysteine ligase, the enzyme that catalyzes the rate-limiting step of glutathione biosynthesis.

Motivated from my undergraduate research experiences, I wish to further enhance my research skills and fulfill my aspirations to pursue a Ph.D. in a biochemistry-related field. Therefore, I joined the Biochemistry graduate program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Glad to be accepted by Dr. Kenneth Johnson's lab, my current work focuses on the mutation at Tryptophan 71 of HIV reverse transcriptase and its effect on conformational change upon nucleotide binding, particularly with enzymes carrying the W71D & W71A mutations. I believe that through the close interactions with Dr. Kenneth Johnson, Dr. JoAnn Hunter Johnson and the student peers, I will be able to take on the challenges necessary to pursue an education and professional career path in scientific research.

Apart from my academic life, I am also involved in different organization and clubs on campus and I am nominated to be one of the executive committee members of the UT Chinese Student and Scholar Association. In my spare time, I enjoy playing the piano, guitar, singing and sports such as volleyball, swimming and badminton. As to further enrich my linguistic skills, I started to learn Japanese as my third language. I believe that as the globalization is expanding, the understanding of other languages, cultures and customs will be increasingly demanding in people's life and work.