Kelly Drews of Leesburg, Va., a senior majoring in biological sciences in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, has been awarded a highly competitive Undergraduate Research Fellowship through the American Society for Microbiology.
The fellowship rewards academically gifted students who intend to pursue graduate studies in microbiology. It provides a 10-week summer research stipend as well as travel funds to the 2014 American Society of Microbiology general meeting in Boston.
"I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work in the Kale Lab at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute," Drews said. "This fellowship will give me the opportunity to further my research without the additional demands of traditional academic school year."
Drews will continue his current research under the mentorship of Shiv Kale, a research faculty member at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute. His research focuses on the trafficking of secreted proteins from the common fungus Aspergillus fumigatus during invasive aspergillosis, which is a growing problem for immunocompromised individuals and solid organ transplant recipients. Successful colonization of human lung tissue leads to the fungus infiltrating the entire organ, resulting in severe morbidity and rapid death.
The Kale Group is currently studying the role of these secreted proteins during invasive aspergillosis with the goal of developing novel therapeutics.
During the summer of 2013, more than 250 students are taking part in undergraduate research experiences through more than a dozen programs on campus. The Office of Undergraduate Research is coordinating workshops and activities for the programs' participants through the summer. Students will present their work at the Virginia Tech Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium on Wednesday, July 31.