BS in Biotechnology, with a Minor in Mathematics, from Minnesota State University, Mankato
My research focuses on the protozoan parasite Cryptosporidium parvum. C. parvum is a waterborne parasite affecting a wide range of hosts, infecting the intestinal epithelium causing the disease known as cryptosporidiosis. Usually self-limiting, cryptosporidiosis can be fatal for individuals who are immunocompromised or malnourished, as there are no effective drugs available for treatment of the disease. Understanding the complex C. parvumlife cycle, and what factors contribute to the infection processes, may provide novel anti-cryptosporidial drug therapies that can aid in the prevention of disease.
As a researcher of C. parvum, I am attempting to examine what triggers the transition from a motile extracellular sporozoite to an infective, intracellular, trophozoite. As a sporozoite glides along the surface of a host cell, the parasite interacts with the complex host intestinal epithelium. Tissues such as the intestine are coated in a mucus layer, and are known to contain a plethora of potential activators for C. parvum invasion. Many of these factors have been implicated in mediating motility and invasion. Unfortunately, the interactions between the host and parasite, in terms of motility and the role these effectors play in promoting parasitic invasion, are poorly understood. My research examines how host factors mediate the invasion process, along with the implications environmental stimuli have in modulating the development of C. parvum. I believe my work will not only provide greater insight into the mechanisms underpinning C. parvum development, but also offer new avenues in apicomplexan disease prevention.