Our current research is investigating how host resources and multiple infections can affect the immune response of an animal. In a previous study in the African buffalo, our collaborator, Dr. Vanessa Ezenwa, noted that co-infection of intestinal parasites and Mycobacterium bovis led to increased severity of the M. bovis infection in the lung. In our lab, we are creating and optimizing a mouse model to study the mechanisms of this interaction. We are studying the immunological consequences of infections with multiple parasites and M. bovis, along with changes in diet.
This project is a collaboration with the Ezenwa Laboratory from the Odom School of Ecology that our lab has participated in for over a year. I personally enjoy this project, because it is combining several different scientific fields, such as Ecology, Parasitology, Pathology, and Immunology, in order to answer a bigger question about disease pathogenesis and ecology within a host.
My research mentor is Dr. Kaori Sakamoto from the Department of Pathology in the College of Veterinary Medicine. I have worked with Dr. Sakamoto for two years, and this has been one of my favorite experiences while at UGA. I’ve had the opportunity not only to learn and work directly under my mentor in an independent research setting, but I’ve also been able to pursue my interest in pathology by accompanying Dr. Sakamoto on necropsy and biopsy duties. Establishing lasting relationships with faculty members is an integral step in excelling as an undergraduate, and I feel that choosing Dr. Sakamoto as my mentor was one of the best decisions that I have made.
Participating in CURO as an avenue for undergraduate research has allowed me not only to conduct research with a mentor, but also to apply for funding and to present in academic settings. I was awarded the CURO Summer Fellowship for 2011, and I presented at the 2012 CURO Symposium. I was also chosen to present my work at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research (NCUR) 2012 in Ogden, Utah. I have been awarded an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) grant through the National Science Foundation to travel with our lab to South Africa for Summer 2012. Taking advantage of CURO resources has allowed my research experience to be one of constant learning and discovery. While writing and presenting created new challenges for me as a student, I am confident that they have prepared me for success in graduate and medical school.