Student Profile

Veleka Iwuaba in lab
Blake Richardson

Blake Richardson
Molecular Microbiology Graduate Program

MentorJohn Schoggins Ph.D.
Hometown: Chandler, Texas

I really became interested in research during college when I earned my undergraduate research experience through a joint program between UT Dallas and UT Southwestern called the Green Fellowship. This program allows undergraduates to spend a full semester of college in a research laboratory working full time on an independent project. Once I had spent a few weeks in lab, I knew that this was something I was really interested in and had finally found what I had been looking for in science/research.

I chose UTSW because of the experience I had during my undergraduate research here. I liked the diversity of research happening on campus, and the amount of overlap between departments.

"Faculty in the program span a wide range of research interests, so there is no lack of creativity or diversity in the program, which makes microbiology a very exciting place to be."

In the Schoggins lab we are interested in identifying roles for interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) that have not been characterized. Specifically, I am characterizing a gene found to be strongly antiviral towards flaviviruses, a genus of mosquito-borne viruses including dengue virus, yellow fever virus, and West Nile virus. I have determined that my protein is blocking the formation of viral replication complexes, and that this block may be occurring in a manner dependent on one of the viral non-structural proteins.

The microbiology graduate program is very multidisciplinary, which means that I can use a wide variety of methods to answer my scientific questions. In addition to having a wide array of resources, I feel that I receive a lot of individual attention as a graduate student. Faculty in the program span a wide range of research interests, so there is no lack of creativity or diversity in the program, which makes microbiology a very exciting place to be.

Veleka Iwuaba in lab
Chelsea Stamm

Chelsea Stamm
Molecular Microbiology Graduate Program
Mentor: Michael Shiloh, Ph.D.
Hometown: Louisville, Ohio
Awards/Fellowships:  Molecular Microbiology Training Grant, Dean's Discretionary Award for Outstanding Service to the Graduate School, American Association for Immunology Young Investigator Award, PEO Scholar Award, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Honorable Mention

I had a fantastic chemistry teacher in high school that got us all excited about our experiments and discovery. Then I attended the College of Wooster which is one of the top schools in the country for mentored undergraduate research and I was fortunate enough to study under James West there for 3 years.

My project studies proteins that are secreted from the bacterium to understand how they may modulate the host cell physiology to promote infection and bacterial survival.

"The faculty range from young to established and the kind of mentorship you will receive is outstanding."

While interviewing at UT Southwestern the atmosphere felt very collaborative rather than competitive. When I looked to the Microbiology department compared to the other schools I was considering, there were more people doing interesting work that I wanted to be a part of.

I think the Molecular Microbiology program at UT Southwestern is one of the top programs in the country because program-wise, the administration really cares about the students and the quality of education we receive is top-notch. They are always trying to improve the program. And more importantly the faculty that we have access to work and learn under are really strong. There's such a variety of really strong research here.