My name is Alexandra Hughson. I am currently an undergraduate Biological Sciences major, a Chemistry minor, and am pursuing a BPhil degree. Additionally, I am also pursuing my MPH in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology in the School of Public Health. This fall I am pursuing research through the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship in the VanDemark lab in the Biology Department here at Pitt. In the lab, my project is focused on developing an assay to assess the binding capabilities of a protein called profilin. Profilin is a protein known to be involved in angiogenesis, another name for new blood vessel formation. When a traumatic eye injury is sustained, pathogenic ocular angiogenesis can occur which causes blood vessels to form in a way that causes vision loss or blindness. Understanding how profilin is involved in this process will provide us with information in order to develop more targeted drug treatments for the disease.
Through the CURF, I hope to strengthen my ability to write about my research for a more general audience. As I move into a social science focused graduate career, I want to make sure that I can explain things in a way that everyone can understand. This is something the CURF is directly focused on as I will regularly complete these blog posts. Likewise, after earning my MPH here from Pitt, I plan to apply to PhD programs where it will be important to communicate my research to a wide variety of people.
A fun fact about me is that I have recently started distance running. I am racing in the Philly Half-marathon in November. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.