During this recent academic year, I have been working on a Master’s thesis entitled The Molecular Mechanism of HIV Entry in collaboration with the lab of Sriram Subramaniam, Ph.D., at the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. I had the honor of being awarded the Alan Cole Scholarship by the Vesalius Trust based on my proposal for this work.

My thesis has entailed a lot of research into the detailed molecular biology of HIV’s envelope glycoprotein (Env) as well as the overall biology of HIV. I translated my research into “HIV: The Initial Invasion”, an animation for the lay audience explaining how Env works within the overall story of a possible HIV infection event.

I also had the chance to gather feedback from a small focus group of lay audience members (i.e. people with no biology experience beyond high school). Promisingly, they showed slight increases in their interest in and perceived importance of molecular biology!

As this year’s Alan Cole Scholar, I will be presenting more about my thesis at the Association of Medical Illustrators Conference in Rochester, Minnesota in July. I hope to see you there!

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