Spotlight on New Alum Kelly Biette

Kelly insideDuring her four years at SU Biette was team captain, played in 209 sets, collected 132 kills, 15 service aces, 60 digs and 145 total blocks. She was president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council and last fall earned Academic All-District First Team honors. This year Biette was awarded the SU Athletics Mission Award for her commitment to the university mission, a mission she embodies.


Harvard-bound graduate credits SU for opportunities

Written by Tina Potterf| Photography by Chris Joseph Taylor
As you read this, Kelly Biette is likely in a lab at Harvard doing some cutting edge experiment that may, one day, change the world.

At Seattle University Biette, a 2013 graduate of the College of Science and Engineering with a focus in cellular molecular biology, was a bright star in the classroom and on the court as a talented volleyball player.

When it came time to pick a school as an undergraduate Biette, who hails from Boulder, Colo., was drawn to SU because of its urban location, academic options, a strong volleyball program and that it is a Jesuit Catholic university. 
The small class sizes and the opportunity of hands-on lab research work were also appealing factors in selecting SU and pursuing her interest in medical research.

“I feel fortunate to have had the opportunities to work in the labs here,” says Biette, who spends 20 hours a week in the lab during the academic year and works full time in the summer. “I genuinely love looking at and finding new data.”


While Seattle University may not be known as a research institution, Biette calls the support for undergraduate research “amazing” and the opportunities to work with faculty members who are leading researchers in their fields invaluable. As an undergraduate she has presented her work and findings at three national conferences and an international conference in Switzerland.

Biette has spent the past three years working on a range of projects in the labs from basic science experiments to more advanced clinical studies. Much of her work involves molecular chaperones in protein folding and developing glucocorticoid receptor signaling. Much of her work involves the role of the molecular chaperone protein hsp90 in facilitating glucocorticoid receptor signaling. 


Of all her experiments, research and lab work, Biette is especially proud of a computer program she wrote that analyzes “matched pair” whole exome sequences and her work showing that when molecular chaperones are coexpressed with the glucocorticoid receptor, the client protein produced is better folded and more functional.

Biette credits her mentor, Patrick Murphy, associate professor in the College of Nursing, and Michelle DuBois, associate professor of biology, for supporting her research exploration.

“Professor Murphy has taught me so much. I have a ton of independence,” she says. “He let’s me do work that mimics a graduate student’s research life. … He gets excited about the results and he has made me a much better research scientist.”

Professor DuBois, says Biette, is a “great teacher who has this incredible knack for getting students to understand things that are difficult.”


“There’s a special group of people at SU who want you to succeed,” she says.

When it came time to consider graduate schools, Biette looked at 10 schools—West Coast and East Coast alike—before narrowing her choices to Stanford, Duke and Harvard. 


At Harvard she will be at the Medical School focusing on pharmacology and biomedical sciences, with the hope to continue working in the chaperone field. She’s looking forward to the opportunity to work in one of the school’s nearly 700 labs. Ultimately Biette would like to teach at a small college. Like SU? “That would be my dream job,” Biette responds, without pause.

Her achievements in the classroom—and the lab—are matched by Biette’s accomplishments in her chosen sport. As a freshman she led the Redhawks volleyball team with 81 total blocks.

During her four years at SU Biette was team captain, played in 209 sets, collected 132 kills, 15 service aces, 60 digs and 145 total blocks. She was president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council and last fall earned Academic All-District First Team honors. This year Biette was awarded the SU Athletics Mission Award for her commitment to the university mission, a mission she embodies.


“The things I have been able to do at SU I couldn’t have done anywhere else. Where else can you play Division I athletics and be a full-time undergraduate research student,” she says. “The sum of all of my experiences has made me who I am today.”


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