UW Graduate School Top Scholar; and UW Fellowship for Academic Excellence

Q: Please tell us a little bit about yourself

A: I'm a first year Pathobiology PhD student interested in parasitology and  host interactions. I came to the University of Washington from the Black Hills of South Dakota by  way of the Pennsylvania State University. When home in SoDak, I enjoy hiking in the  Hills with my dog, Cash. I have two (twin) brothers, a chemist and a mathematician.  With two educators for parents, a love of reading and learning was instilled at an early  age, and I am very passionate about well-rounded education with a variety of  perspectives.

Q: Why did you decide to attend the UW for graduate school? 

A: The program is a great fit for my interests in parasitology and host interactions; the Department of Global Health allows students to pursue my scientific goals with a distinct global and public health perspective. I am very interested in understanding how bench science  becomes actionable treatments for people around the world, and believe that this is  a valuable perspective for scientists. The resources and opportunities at the University of  Washington program provide many avenues to explore these important topics. The high quality global health coursework involved in pursuing a Pathobiology degree was one of  the characteristics that drew  me to the program.

So far at the University of Washington, I have been able to rotate with Christoph  Grundner, studying phosphosignaling networks in Mycobacterium,  and has just begun a  rotation with Joe Smith investigating Plasmodium falciparum  surface protein expression.  The program has also allowed me to meet a cohort of incredible student scientists to  learn with. The students here support one another as we learn and develop as scientists;  this community was another trait that drew me to the UW Pathobiology program.

Q: What are your research interests and background?

A: At Penn State, I earned a B.S. in Microbiology with Honors. My research  project with UW alum Scott Lindner was focused on a protein potentially involved in  regulation of Plasmodium yoelii  protein expression in transmission stages. My mentors  at Penn State fostered their love of parasitology. I presented this research at the  2019 Out in STEM poster session. I also worked with the National Science  Foundation to characterize deep underground microbial diversity in the Sanford  Underground Research Facility; this multidisciplinary Research Experience for  Undergraduates allowed me to befriend medical scientists, chemists, and physicists  from around the country. I explored topics in global health and public health through  coursework at Penn State in addition to my involvement in the Penn State Remote Area  Medical Club, though which I volunteered at a free clinic to help aid underserved  populations.

Q: What do you enjoy outside of the program?

A: When not exploring Seattle, I enjoy hanging out with my cohort - just last  week the cohort took us to the Cascades to go skiing for the first time! I also enjoy  playing tabletop RPGs with friends (currently playing Blades in the Dark). Like many  people, I picked up a new pandemic-hobby: cross-stitching. I am more than happy to talk to students thinking about the University of  Washington Pathobiology program! I can be reached by email at os26@uw.edu or on  twitter @lsmithsd.