Here you will find my scientific publications, which are presented in the context of personal stories about my experiences at the National Institutes of Health and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. You can also browse through my current science writing, ranging from analyses of new discoveries to opinion articles and science in the news.
Before I decided to go into biomedical science, I wanted to be an Egyptologist. Inspired in part by Indiana Jones, I had grand notions of adventure and discovery in the Sahara Desert. The pyramids, the Sphinx, ancient hieroglyphics, and pharaohs – these all fascinated me, but none as much as mummification, a ritual that preserves the body for traveling into the afterlife where it reunites with the soul. A new study, published in May in Nature Communications, has now unlocked another secret of the past hidden in the DNA of ancient Egyptian mummies. As an amateur historian of ancient Egypt and a trained scientist who studied viral genetics, this discovery immediately caught my eye. Read more
Grad school is hard. Most who have been there would agree. The long hours are draining to be sure, but that’s not the hardest part. It’s the constant requirement to prove – that your hypothesis is correct (or incorrect) and why, that your work is meaningful, that you are capable of thinking independently, that you can tackle a challenge and persevere, and above all that you’ve truly earned your degree. There are many hoops to jump through, many hurdles and pitfalls, but on the other side of this lengthy obstacle course awaits accomplishment, and if you’re lucky, you’ll make some great friends along the way. Read more
I remember the day I got the call from Dr. K inviting me to an interview. I had just graduated from The College of Wooster, a small liberal arts school in Ohio, and knew little about having a real job in the real world. Yet, there I was, in amazed disbelief that I would soon be interviewing for – not just any job – THE job, the one I wanted most, but was surely unqualified for, or so I thought, especially since it was the heart of the financial crisis of 2008, so the job market was competitive, if not virtually obsolete. It was all so surreal, almost too good to be true, but some experiences live up to their potential. Read more