I obtained my Bachelor of Science degree in biology at James Madison University, where I carried out my research in virology and neuroscience, respectively, in the labs of Dr. Louise Temple-Rosebrook and Dr. Corey Cleland. My honors thesis, as part of Dr. Cleland’s lab, focused on the development of spatial transformations in the nociceptive withdrawal response in rats, driven by my curiosity in the complexity of neural network programming in higher level organisms. During my thesis research, my fascination quickly turned to neuroinfectious pathogens, particularly viruses, which led me to Dr. Temple’s lab, wherein I took part in bacteriophage characterization, or “viral discovery,” in a large effort to gain a better understanding of the genetic and mechanistic diversity of viruses. I am still captivated by this biodiversity and strive to learn more about its behavior within differing biological systems.
During the pursuit of my doctoral degree in the lab of Dr. Salemi, I focused on HIV and SIV intra-host evolution and phyloanatomy in the context of neuroAIDS. In addition, I have worked in collaboration with the Center for HIV RNA studies, using a phylogenetic approach to evaluate the appositeness of biochemical methods in HIV/SIV de novo RNA secondary structure prediction. I plan to continue my work as a post-doctoral researcher beginning in August 2017 in the lab of Dr. Sergei Kosakovsky Pond (Temple University) in the area of molecular evolution, aiming to better understand the immunological and biochemical selective pressures that drive the differing transmission patterns of the virus among tissue and cell populations within the host.