McKnight Prizes

2014 McKnight Prize in Undergraduate Biochemistry Finalists
Benjamin Tu, Ph.D., Jonathan Karr, Jung Min Lee (winner), Caleb Natale

2014 McKnight Prize in Undergraduate Molecular Biophysics Finalists
Jose Rizo-Rey, Ph.D., Ryan Henrici, Kun Leng (winner), and Abby Knecht

Group photo
2014 McKnight Prize in Undergraduate Chemistry Finalists
John MacMillan, Ph.D., Jonathan Varelas, Chengtian Shen (winner), Janelle Kirsch

The UT Southwestern Department of Biochemistry holds an annual contest for undergraduate researchers from across the country. Prizes are awarded in three areas: chemistry, biophysics or quantitative biology, and biological chemistry. The McKnight Prize was instituted by Steven McKnight, Ph.D., Chair of UT Southwestern's Department of Biochemistry, in honor of his parents, “because they have been the best parents imaginable,” he said.

Several finalists were invited to travel to the Biochemistry Department’s annual retreat Nov. 7-9 to give poster presentations on their work. Winners were chosen both for the significance of their work and the quality of their presentation.

This competition is open to undergraduates in their senior year who have conducted outstanding research in chemistry, biological chemistry, or biophysics or quantitative biology.

First prizes of $2,000 were awarded in each discipline. Finalists received a $500 prize. 

How to Apply

Applications are due by email ( with “Chemistry Prize,” “Biochemistry Prize,” or “Biophysics and Computational Biology Prize” in the subject line). The deadline is October 1.

More details on the awards and how to apply:

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for the prize?

Senior undergraduates who have done laboratory research in chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, or computational biology.

What is the application deadline?

October 1.

How long should the abstract be?

There is no formal length requirement or limit. Most competitive projects can be well abstracted in 250 to 750 words.

How do I report my score/grades?

Undergraduate GPA and GRE scores may be self-reported. We expect that competitive candidates will report these accurately.

What if I haven’t taken the GRE?

We recognize that many students will not have taken the GRE yet. In this case, send only your GPA.

What about the letter from my research mentor?

As with the abstract, there is no formal length requirement or limit. Again, most applicants and their projects can be adequately described in one to two pages. This letter should be sent directly from the research mentor as described below.

How do I submit my application?

Applications are due by email ( with “Chemistry Prize,” “Biochemistry Prize,” or “Biophysics and Computational Biology Prize” on the subject line) by October 1.

What if I don't meet one of the criteria?

While it is expected that competitive applicants will meet the application criteria, we encourage applications from all undergraduates who feel that their research should be considered.

What happens next?

The selection committee will review all applications and select several finalists who will be invited to present posters to the selection committee at the UT Southwestern Biochemistry Research Retreat. UT Southwestern will provide travel and accommodations for finalists.