Title: Assistant Chief, Cellular Immunology Section
Question: What inspired you to pursue a career in science?
Answer: Not to bring Lady Gaga into this, but I was born this way. I have always been interested in science for as long as I can remember. As a born germophobe, I decided to major in microbiology to gain enough knowledge to defeat my natural enemies. Unfortunately, as bacteria are naturally complicated and my quest required a PhD. I completed my PhD in pathology before joining the Army as a microbiologist in 2014.
Q: What advice do you have for younger girls who want to pursue research careers?
A: When I think about what it takes to pursue a career in research, I am reminded of the advice that Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s mother gave her which is, “It helps to sometimes help to be a little deaf.” Her mother was referring specifically to a marriage, but like a marriage, a career in research involves some challenges and you must be as tough as the science. It all boils down to tenacity and honoring your own values, path, and style. Sometimes you have just to be a little deaf to the difficulties and anything or anyone that might make you doubt yourself.
Q: What has been a highlight of your time working with MHRP?
A: It has been great working on relevant scientific projects and having the opportunity to serve MHRP both as an Army officer and scientist but being fortunate enough to be part of such a collaborative department that is uniquely poised to foster teamwork worldwide and leverage immense resources has been amazing. The support I have received from my colleagues and many excellent scientists who have mentored me to further my scientific development is something that I have been very grateful to have experienced.
Q: What kind of projects are you currently working on?
A: For the past couple of years, I’ve had the privilege of studying the natural progression of HIV to inform vaccine design. Specifically, we have been able to focus on the role of innate immunity in acute HIV-1 infection.
Q: What is your background prior to joining MHRP?
A: Prior to joining MHRP, I served as the command surgeon for the 20th CBRNE Command in Edgewood, MD and as the Deputy of the Ocular Trauma Department at the United States Army Institute of Surgical Research in San Antonio, TX. I have a background in corneal wound healing.