Please describe your research area and interest.
I study how the immune system is altered in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal Dementia. It is well-established that inflammation accompanies the loss of neurons in such diseases, but less is known about how the inflammation begins and how it contributes to disease progression.
Why did you decide to attend Stanford?
I came to Stanford in the summer of 2007 to do research with the Stanford Summer Research Program, and I fell in love with California and with Stanford. It doesn't hurt that Stanford has some of the top labs in the research I wanted to do!
What do you like best about graduate school at Stanford?
Besides the weather, the people here are so wonderful. I love that it's such a collaborative environment where people are quick to share ideas and help each other out. I once had to do a giant patient sample collection on a Saturday that would not have been possible to do alone. I called on some of my classmates, who happily spent their Saturday morning with me collecting samples. The departments, programs, and staff are also great at Stanford and clearly want to see every student succeed and will do everything they can to help make that happen.
Who are your sources of support at Stanford?
My classmates in the Immunology program are a great source of support, both moral and educational. The immunology program has also been a wonderful resource, as has Graduate Housing—I loved living in Rains! I've also been involved in BioAIMS and the Stanford Summer Research Program, which have been wonderful sources of both information and a vital community.
What activities are you involved in outside of research?
I enjoy singing at every opportunity (mostly at my cells), painting, and going to the opera. I was also a Community Associate in Rains Graduate Housing for two years.
How do you bring diversity to Stanford Biosciences?
Growing up in a very small, very rural, agricultural town in Kansas, I never imagined that a student like me could become a scientist, much less attend such a well-renowned institution. Thankfully, with the support and encouragement of the excellent faculty at my undergraduate institution and the faculty and staff at Stanford, I have learned that many students can, like myself, navigate successfully from "a farm" to "The Farm."
What is your dream job/long-term career goals?
I hope to continue to make discoveries with a small lab and to encourage the next generation of scientists with great teaching and community outreach. I would love to be a professor at a liberal arts college that encourages students to engage within the laboratory, classroom, and world.