Lily Xu wins 2020 Stalker Award

Lily Xu has been awarded the 2020 Harrison D. Stalker Award from the Department of Biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

Lily Xu

The award honors the late Harrison D. Stalker, a renowned evolutionary biologist and a world-class photographer. The award is given annually to a graduating biology major whose undergraduate career combines outstanding scientific scholarship with significant contributions in the arts and humanities.

In his nomination letter, senior lecturer in biology Craig Smith states “Lily has the mind of a scientist/engineer and the soul of an artist. She is simply one of the most inquisitive, clever and creative students I’ve had since I’ve been at the university. She brings a tremendous amount of energy to everything she does. She doesn’t shy away from a challenge but takes it head on… Students like her that are the reason why I started teaching. It’s been an honor to have her in my classes and she will be truly missed when she graduates.”

Lily’s compelling and creative analysis of the glucose-6-phosphate (G6P) isomerase from Elizabethkingia anopheles in the advanced lab course Structural Bioinformatics of Proteins will be submitted by instructor Craig Smith to Acta Crystallographica Section F for publication. Lily is also on a team of undergrads studying the druggable “structome” of the brain eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri in collaboration with the Seattle Structural Genomics Center for Infectious Diseases (SSGCID), the findings of which will be submitted to PLoS One where Lily will be a co-author. Lily conducts undergraduate research in the Daved Fremont lab, where she studies flaviviruses with focuses on structure and neutralization. Her work has been published in Journal of Experimental Medicine and her thesis work is titled “Differential neutralization of Zika virus and Dengue virus by a Zika virus monoclonal antibody.”

Aside from her studies in biology and biomedical engineering, she is a talented musician playing both violin and piano. She plays violin in a mariachi band called Mariachi Cuicacalli where she also serves as the group’s Music Director. This group has performed at Carnaval (WashU) and other venues throughout St. Louis. She has volunteered her time with Cadence with Care to accompany a singer on piano in the lobby of Siteman Cancer Center and has composed many original songs for voice/guitar and soundtracks from synthetic instruments.

Cover illustration by Lily Xu

Lily is also an accomplished artist. She is the Executive Director for Frontiers Magazine, a student-run magazine that focuses on health topics relating to the WashU community. Lily also serves as an illustrator and has previously served as a web editor. She has produced several creative and stunning pictures for the science articles in that magazine. Most recently, her artistic talent is featured on the cover of the March 11, 2020 issue of Cell Host & Microbe. Images of her original artwork and recordings of her original music are available at her personal website.

Lily says “During my time at WashU, I found that as I became more involved in STEM, my experiences remained intertwined with the arts, humanities, and service. I'm so thankful for the opportunities I received at WashU - in the lab and in the classroom - and for the amazing people I met from clubs that celebrate music, illustration, learning, and more.”

Lily will receive her award during a virtual biology awards ceremony in May.