Graduate School Research
During my Ph.D. thesis research, I discovered an affordable and effective vaccine antigen, currently used by PATH (an affiliate of the Gates Foundation) researchers in clinical studies, to prevent Streptococcus pneumoniae disease that annually kills and infects millions of unimmunized children and adults. I discovered that the ability of pneumococcus to acquire and metabolize polyamines, molecules transported by Polyamine Transport Protein D, is crucial to its ability to cause disease, and it uses polyamines to resist the host defenses. I also contributed to research that demonstrated the role of dietary iron and bacterial non-coding RNAs in increasing the risk of pneumococcal infections. The American Society for Microbiology recognized this work by selecting me for the Raymond W. Sarber National Award. Numerous best poster and paper awards and several impactful publications also resulted from my graduate school research.