Tye Martin, a graduate student working in the Center for Biomedical Engineering at the University of New Mexico, was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) graduate fellowship. The NSF, in its mission to ensure the vitality and innovation of science and discovery in the United States, recognizes and awards fellowships to graduate students in NSF-supported science annually.

Martin’s research is focused on early detection of Alzheimer’s disease. He did his undergrad work at UNM as well, studying chemical engineering. While working for his bachelor’s degree Martin became involved with Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD), a program that allowed Martin the opportunity to work in a focused research setting. It was with IMSD guidance when he applied an earlier interest in mathematics and computer science to building models of chemical behavior in proteins.

Working with a pair of undergrads this summer, both of whom are working on separate but related research, a typical day for Martin involves meeting with them, assisting in keeping their projects on track and then maintaining his own projects. Presently running a number of ideas through the lab, with occasional access to UNM’s super computers helping out, Martins progress is steady. “My day to day is pretty much try to keep things running, and then start to build new systems for analysis for later on,” he said.

“Running simulations allows us to see things that we aren’t able to see experimentally, simulations allow us to see exactly how and why the proteins or molecules bind the way they do,” he says. The models he constructs are the principle tools used in this kind of research and the NSF fellowship will help him reach farther down that road of discovery.

With a family history that makes Alzheimer’s research personally important, and living with Muscular Dystrophy himself, Martin is driven to understand how proteins behave, or in the case of his MD, misbehave, in the human body. His work plays an important part of his life and he enjoys the life of a scientist.

Outside of school Martin likes to travel. His favorite city, after Albuquerque of course, is Seattle, and a recent trip to Yellowstone lived up to the hype. Martin’s immediate plans focus on the lab but the future is wide open. Martin is openly grateful to the faculty and instructors at UNM and of Course the NSF for his continuing opportunities to work for science.