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.
Name: Dr. Kimberly Walker
Job title: Manager for Public Affairs
Location: Washington D.C., USA
After her Ph.D., Kimberly pursued the AAAS Congressional Fellowship with American Society for Microbiology as her sponsor. Spending a year as a legislative assistant, Kimberly saw learned how to use her science background to influence policy. Now, she applies her scientific expertise to work with federal agencies and Congress informing public health and clinical laboratory decisions. Some of her recent work include antimicrobial resistance and laboratory safety.
If you are a scientist and cannot imagine life outside of the lab, you are probably wondering if Kimberly misses life in the lab. “I miss being at the bench and doing experiments, but I feel science policy work is an important way to give back to society,” Kimberly says.
“As federal budgets are squeezed, it’s going to be especially important for independent scientists to participate in providing expertise. For example, classification of new tests according to the risk that they carry needs the expertise of those who design the tests, use the tests, and evaluate the tests,” she says.
While not working on science policy, Kimberly participates in different types of science outreach including hosting a science podcast, judging science fairs and speaking at Baltimore high schools.
Outside of the microbiology world, Kimberly enjoys Marvel movies and Star Trek. She also gardens, cooks and crochets.
Kimberly’s microbial doppelgänger: Proteus mirabilis
Proteus mirabilis is known for its ability to swarm. That is, it spreads across solid or semi-solid surfaces. Kimberly chooses Proteus mirabilis as her doppelgänger because her things on her desk can’t stop from spreading out as she works.
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