NSF Graduate Fellow
A study of genetic variation and molecular evolution in human CCR5, a co-receptor for HIV-1 and marker of susceptibility to symptomatic West Nile Virus.
Drs. Michael Thomas and Rosemary Smith
D.A. Biological Sciences
University Department and/or Lab:
Description of Research:
I am broadly interested in genetics, molecular evolution, and comparative genomics. My current research project utilizes molecular sequence data to explore genetic variation and test hypotheses about evolutionary patterns and selection pressures. The primary gene of interest, CCR5, is a transmembrane chemokine receptor that performs a role in mounting an immune response to pathogens, but also is used by HIV-1 to obtain entry into cells, leading to HIV infection. Analyses of genetic variation present in the human population and test of molecular evolution will be used to illuminate the nature of selection pressures that have acted on the CCR5 locus in humans.
One example of how you integrate your research into your GK-12 experience:
One way I hope to integrate my research into classroom is by presenting an introduction to my own in a ~30 minute informal talk. The purpose of this talk is to communicate to students the story of how I became involved in research, why science excites me, and to tell students about what I know best in biology (my research). It is my hope that students will be excited by my research and understand something about biology better because of my talk, but I also hope to illustrate to students how they may become scientists, and that science fields and positions are open to them.