Real Scientists

Josh Trotter

For about two years now, Albright has been busy researching the causes and effects of the HRV (Human Rhinovirus), aka. the common cold. As with any research concerning viruses, samples must be obtained in order for a scientist to study them-live samples are the best. Albright is currently concentrating on strains of HRV in Lawrence’s campus population, collecting live samples from people who are currently hosting the virus.
These ‘nasal lavages,’ the technical term for booger samples, are then sent off to another laboratory that sequences the virus’ RNA. Yet what Albright, along with her mentor Professor David Hall, is concerned about deals more with the hosts reaction to HRV than the actual RNA sequence of the virus. Specifically, Albright is researching the cause behind the exacerbation of HRV in people with asthma compared to those without.
Before Albright ever considered going around campus swabbing the inside of people’s noses, she arrived at Lawrence wanting to be a chemistry major. And after a year of intro chemistry and biology classes she decided that she wanted to do research.
Alrbright was given the opportunity to assist Professor Hall in his virology research for her summer before sophomore year and the following year she finally realized, “oh this is pretty much all just biochem stuff, so I’ll just be a biochem major.”
“It was fascinating!” exclaimed Albright.
Research will definitely be a dominant goal in Albright’s future. She would like to be either a professor or ultimately a senior researcher. This summer, Albright has been accepted to research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she will be delving deeper into the field of virology. Though she does not know the specific topic of research, she is covering all her bases through even more collaboration with Professor Hall.
“He’s teaching me cloning techniques so I can clone myself-well, bacteria actually, plasmids,” explained Albright. “Cloning is, more or less, just copying DNA. It’s not like I could clone a sheep or something.”
Albright is also learning techniques of flow cytometry, “which is just really advanced cell counting.”
Flow cytometry is a technique that allows for analysis of cells’ physical and chemical characteristics using powerful machines capable of processing thousands of particles per seconds.
Needless to say Albright spends, “an ungodly amount of time in the lab,” but when she’s not working she has participates on Lawrence’s quiz bowl team and, until this year, has been a member of Viking Chorale.
She has also read nearly all the Calvin & Hobbes anthologies and “would say that Calvin is an inspiration except that I disagree with most of the things he does-except for the Snowman House of Horror.”Questions? Comments? Like to talk Biochem?
Email Catherine Albright at catherine.j.albright@lawrence.edu

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