Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics Graduate Student
Converse College: Bachelor of Science, Biology
The emergence of HIV in humans was the result of multiple cross-species transmissions of simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIV) from non-human primates (NHP). Many species of African NHP are naturally infected with SIVs, but show no signs of disease. Although SIV is non-pathogenic in natural hosts, non-natural hosts, like Asian macaques, rapidly progress to immunodeficiency when infected with the virus. Baboons, an abundant African NHP, are not naturally infected with SIV, despite having overlapping habitats with natural hosts. Experimental infections have revealed that baboons are resistant to chronic SIV infection in vivo, but the mechanisms underlying natural resistance are unknown.
My project in the Giavedoni laboratory is aimed at identifying molecules in baboons that confer natural resistance to SIV. Our long term goal is to identify the human homologue and investigate why it fails to restrict HIV. These findings could contribute to the development of HIV preventatives and next-generation therapies. Currently, I am characterizing immune responses and viral replication kinetics during SIV infection in primary cells in vitro. I am also studying the impact of factors, including age and underlying retroviral infections, on the outcome of SIV infection.
Awards & Accomplishments
- 2012 Graduation with Honors in Biology, Converse College, Spartanburg, SC.
- 2012 Dean’s Excellence Award, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX.
- 2012 Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Scholar, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX. 5R25GM095480-02 (MPI)
- 2012 San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) Inspire Award: Rising Star in Excellence, San Antonio Independent School District, San Antonio, TX.
- 2014 American Society for Virology (ASV) Student Travel Award, 33rd Annual Meeting of the ASV, Fort Collins, CO.
- 2015 1st Place Oral Presentation, Microbiology and Immunology Department Retreat, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX.
- 2016 Microbiology and Immunology Department Travel Award
- 2009 Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society
- 2010 Beta Beta Beta Biology Honors Society
- 2012 Gamma Sigma Honors Society
- 2013 Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science
- 2014 American Society for Virology
- 2016 American Association of Immunologists