Deanna Csomo McCool | August 28, 2019
Ana Lidia Flores-Mireles researched one of the word’s largest organisms before a graduate school class sparked her interest in the tiniest ones.
She had been studying 60,000-pound gray whales during her program in marine biotechnology in Mexico, and was initially annoyed that she was required to take the class in marine microbiology.
“I was like, I am working with gray whales, so who cares about microbes? No one can see them,” said Flores-Mireles, who is now the Hawk Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame. But the class developed her interest in studying infectious diseases among gray whales, which have a highly inbred population. “I was too naïve,” she said about her earlier lack of interest in microbiology.
She learned about how the microbes communicated with each other, and how they organized themselves to cause infections. Her interest grew to the point where she was compelled to leave the whales behind to pursue the study of infectious diseases, and she enrolled in the doctoral program in microbiology at Cornell University.
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