As a microbiologist, I'm interested in host-pathogen interactions. Specifically, how do bacterial secretions impact host innate immune responses and future outcomes. My current work examines how bacterial outer membrane vesicles impact plant innate immunity and responses to future microbial challenge.
All Gram-negative bacteria release vesicles. In mammalian systems, these vesicles contain virulence factors, toxins, and more that can directly impact host immune responses. While very little is known about vesicles from plant pathogenic bacteria, studies have shown that they can contain known virulence factors, and that in some cases these factors are active in the plant environment. My work aims to discover how vesicles interact with plants.
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Teachers are constantly challenged to adapt the way they describe and present material to meet the needs of their students. This is necessary both to improve student learning and also increase engagement with the topics. As the outreach coordinator for my department, I have had the chance to practice this skill with elementary age children - a very curious audience! Applying lessons learned from this experience, my goal is always to improve student engagement and incite curiosity at the undergraduate and graduate levels to improve overall student learning.
We all learn more when we work with those who have experience different from our own. Whether its through my teaching, research collaborations, within my own lab, or through service and outreach, I always try to seek out differing opinions and expertise. My friends and colleagues have contributed immensely to my understanding and appreciation for diversity in the classroom and in the workplace, and I am excited to continue working to increase diversity in science throughout my career.
My graduate school training would feel incomplete without incorporating ample service opportunities. I have found service both within and outside my scientific discipline to be incredibly rewarding. A few of these volunteer activities include leading science outreach, organizing events to serve the Durham community, planning symposia, and serving as a student ambassador for programs offered through the Duke Graduate School.