Abt wins 2023 Quatrano Prize

Julian Abt, a senior majoring in Neuroscience, with minors in Medical Humanities and Russian Language and Literature, in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has been awarded the 2023 Ralph S. Quatrano Prize by the Department of Biology.

Julian Abt

Established through a generous donation by Katherine Day Reinleitner, the Quatrano Prize is awarded to the thesis showing greatest evidence of creativity in design, research methodology or broader scientific implications. The award is given in honor of Ralph Quatrano, the Spencer T. Olin Professor Emeritus and former chair of biology.

Abt completed research in the Moron-Concepcion Lab, culminating in his thesis Investigating the sex-specific effects of pain on mesolimbic circuitry during fentanyl self-administration using in vivo wireless fiber photometry. He was nominated by his Bio 500 independent research mentor Jose Moron-Concepcion, Henry E Mallinckrodt Professor of Anesthesiology.

In his nomination letter, Moron-Concepcion wrote: “Julian’s intellect, creativity, and practicality are far beyond the expectations of any undergraduate student. He operates with the rigor of a seasoned scientist; eager to continually grow his expertise and unafraid to challenge dated philosophy. He possesses a keen intuition for sound research and a remarkable knack for scientific creativity. In short, he is an exemplary model of what the Quatrano Prize represents and a formidable role-model in the lab whom my other students aspire to be. He is endearingly referred to as the “Alpha” among students in the lab because of his natural adeptness to assume leadership, problem solve, and bring fresh insight to his independent and collaborative projects. Julian is genuinely curious, highly ambitious, and among the best students (top 1%) that I have worked with.”

Abt says “I am honored to have been chosen as the winner of the Quatrano Prize, an award that exemplifies what Dean Quatrano’s career has stood for – using innovation to push the boundaries of scientific understanding. As a student, I have sought to question past assumptions about how we understand the effect of pain on opioid use. It is incredible to have been able to use what I have learned from the supportive faculty of the biology department to make a contribution to the field. I would like to thank Dr. Jose Moron-Concepcion for his tremendous support, Dr. Jessica Higginbotham for being the best bench mentor any undergraduate student could ask for, and the entire Moron-Concepcion lab for creating an environment where scientific creativity can thrive.”

Abt will receive the award and prize during a biology awards ceremony in May.