meet a microbiologist

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Meet a Microbiologist: Amanda Gunn

Microbiologist Amanda Gunn takes on something unusual for a microbiologist; she started a fish research and community lab. When Amanda came to Grays Harbor College as a faculty member, she wanted a way to fit her work into the needs and culture of the community. “Everybody here hunts or fishes, and it seemed like a good way to get the community interested in science,” Amanda says. Thus, Fish Lab began.

Fish Lab is a volunteer-based program intended to both restore and monitor the waterways in the area and to get the community involved. Amanda holds volunteer Fish Lab hours twice a week where students and community members can participate in water quality analysis, trail work, dissections, and more. (more…)

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Meet a Microbiologist: Kimberly Walker

Like many young scientists, Kimberly Walker took to her natural surroundings for study. As a child, she would do experiments on ants near her house. After a B.S. in medical technology, she pursued a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology. She studied the molecular pathogenesis of Gram-negative bacteria, specifically Bordetella pertussis, Proteus mirabilis, and diarrheagenic Escherichia coli.

She is fascinated by the secretion systems of Gram-negative bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria use different forms of secretion to transfer proteins from within the cell to the exterior. Secretion systems have many functions, whether to emit toxins or to build extracellular structures. “They are brilliant. Type II is my favorite,” she says. (more…)

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Meet a Microbiologist: Raphael Laurenceau
Chemical engineer turned microbiologist. Co-founder and co-organizer of a DIY biolab. Cultivator of photosynthetic bacteria. Raphael Laurenceau began his path in the sciences by studying chemical engineering. After watching several nature documentaries (thanks David Attenborough), he soon realized he was in the wrong field. There were too many fascinating things happening in the world’s ecosystems and Raphael wanted to study them. Though life is all chemistry, he wanted to study biology and used his chemistry background to leverage a career in biology. “I realized that chemistry is a great stepping stone to enter the world of biology. There is nothing more than chemical reactions happening inside cells,” Raphael says.

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Meet a Microbiologist: Rachel Simpson

African Sleeping Sickness gets its name from the sleep disturbances it causes. Awake in the night and asleep in the day. A bite from a tsetse fly can transmit Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite that causes African Sleeping Sickness. First come the fevers, headaches, and joint pain. Then weeks to months after the bite, the sleep disturbances set in. African Sleeping Sickness is in a category of diseases known as the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Like many NTDs, African Sleeping Sickness mainly affects underdeveloped populations in tropical regions. Unfortunately, this means that pharmaceutical companies don’t see reason to pursue research in these diseases. Hence the name “neglected tropical diseases.” (more…)

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Meet a Microbiologist: Erica Hartmann

Erica’s foray into science didn’t specifically begin with microbiology. Her father worked at NASA and while accompanying him to work on “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” every year, she’s tried all sorts of things, even astronaut ice cream. She’s read a lot about science and her interest grew. “The Hot Zone especially scared the bejeezus out of me but was also fascinating,” she recalls. She grew up near Reston, Virginia, where Reston Virus (causes Ebola symptoms in non-human primates) was discovered. While she was in high school, she closely followed the race to sequence the human genome. “It felt hugely important and revolutionary, and I wanted to be a part of it,” Erica says. (more…)