Summer Research Program Alumni – Bolutife Fakoya

August 31, 2017

The August blog is checking in with alumni from the Summer Research Program. All previous participants were invited to share a blog posting on their current work and where they are in their careers.

Our summer research programs offer students the opportunity to work closely with outstanding faculty mentors focusing on public health and global health.

By Bolutife Fakoya, Summer Research Program participant

During​ ​my​ ​third​ ​year​ ​of​ ​college,​ ​I​ ​struggled​ ​with​ ​the​ ​prospect​ ​of​ ​what​ ​I​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​do​ ​after I​ ​graduated.​ ​I​ ​knew​ ​that​ ​I​ ​was​ ​interested​ ​in​ ​basic​ ​molecular​ ​biology​ ​research​ ​but​ ​I​ ​also recognized​ ​that​ ​I​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​structure​ ​my​ ​career​ ​around​ ​existing​ ​and​ ​emerging​ ​problems​ ​in public​ ​health.​ ​

Coming​ ​from​ ​Nigeria,​ ​I​ ​have​ ​first-hand​ ​experiences​ ​with​ ​the​ ​socio-cultural​ ​impacts of​ ​infectious​ ​diseases​ ​in​ ​communities​ ​I​ ​call​ ​home​ ​and​ ​I​ ​know​ ​that​ ​similar​ ​situations​ ​persist worldwide.​ ​I​ ​began​ ​my​ ​search​ ​for​ ​suitable​ ​opportunities​ ​and​ ​through​ ​the​ ​Institute​ ​for​ ​Public Health​ ​Summer​ ​Research​ ​Program,​ ​I​ ​joined​ ​the​ ​Stallings​ ​Lab​ ​at​ ​Washington​ ​University​ ​in​ ​St. Louis​ ​and​ ​spent​ ​the​ ​summer​ ​working​ ​on​ ​a​ ​project​ ​characterizing​ ​critical​ ​elements​ ​of​ ​the Mycobacterium tuberculosis cell​ ​cycle.

My​ ​summer​ ​in​ ​the​ ​lab​ ​of​ ​Dr.​ ​Christina​ ​Stallings​ ​was​ ​truly​ ​transformational​ ​and​ ​there​ ​is​ ​so much​ ​that​ ​I​ ​recognize​ ​that​ ​I​ ​can​ ​do,​ ​that​ ​I​ ​am​ ​doing,​ ​because​ ​of​ ​my​ ​time​ ​in​ ​St.​ ​Louis.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​lab​ ​I learned​ ​so​ ​many​ ​essential​ ​experimental​ ​techniques​ ​and​ ​tackled​ ​difficult​ ​research​ ​questions​ ​with the​ ​unending​ ​guidance​ ​and​ ​support​ ​from​ ​Dr.​ ​Stallings,​ ​Dr.​ ​Katherine​ ​Mann​ ​(the​ ​graduate student​ ​I​ ​worked​ ​with),​ ​and​ ​the​ ​rest​ ​of​ ​the​ ​lab​ ​group.​

Assistant Professor, Molecular Microbiology, School of Medicine

​From​ ​the​ ​summer​ ​symposium​ ​series​ ​I learnt​ ​about​ ​critical​ ​research​ ​into​ ​neglected​ ​tropical​ ​diseases,​ ​One​ ​Health​ ​Initiatives,​ ​and​ ​social determinants​ ​of​ ​health​ ​outcomes.​ ​I​ ​recall​ ​having​ ​those​ ​talks​ ​fundamentally​ ​shape​ ​what​ ​I​ ​wanted to​ ​explore​ ​after​ ​I​ ​graduated.​ ​And​ ​with​ ​my​ ​fellow​ ​researchers​ ​I​ ​learnt​ ​how​ ​to​ ​structure​ ​a​ ​research talk,​ ​discuss​ ​findings,​ ​and​ ​collaborate​ ​towards​ ​a​ ​broader​ ​goal.​ ​By​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​my​ ​summer​ ​I​ ​was sad​ ​to​ ​leave​ ​St.​ ​Louis,​ ​but​ ​grateful​ ​for​ ​my​ ​time​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Stallings​ ​Lab,​ ​and​ ​excited​ ​for​ ​the​ ​future​ ​I wanted​ ​to​ ​build​ ​with​ ​this​ ​experience​ ​in​ ​mind.

I​ ​think​ ​of​ ​the​ ​global​ ​effort​ ​against​ ​tuberculosis​ ​and​ ​other​ ​infectious​ ​diseases​ ​as​ ​an evolutionary​ ​arms​ ​race​ ​that​ ​is​ ​being​ ​fought​ ​in​ ​research​ ​labs,​ ​field​ ​clinics,​ ​hospitals,​ ​and​ ​primary schools​ ​where​ ​children​ ​around​ ​the​ ​world​ ​are​ ​being​ ​equipped​ ​with​ ​essential​ ​prevention​ ​skills.​ ​I began​ ​my​ ​PhD​ ​program​ ​at​ ​Harvard​ ​University​ ​a​ ​few​ ​weeks​ ​ago​ ​with​ ​the​ ​hope​ ​of​ ​contributing to​ ​this​ ​global​ ​effort​ ​against​ ​infectious​ ​disease.​ ​My​ ​time​ ​with​ ​the​ ​Institute​ ​for​ ​Public​ ​Health​ ​started me​ ​on​ ​my​ ​journey​ ​into​ ​public​ ​health​ ​and​ ​I​ ​am​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​continue​ ​this​ ​into​ ​the​ ​future.

This post is part of the “Summer Research Program Alumni” series of the Institute for Public Health’s blog. Subscribe to email updates or follow us on Twitter and Facebook to receive notifications about our latest blog posts.

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