I graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2018 with a BS in Molecular and Cell Biology. I joined Professor Carolyn Teschke’s group at UConn as an undergraduate student and I continued to work in the Teschke Lab as a research technician following graduation. As a research technician, I used a combination of biophysical and biochemical techniques to study the assembly pathway of bacteriophage P22, which is a dsDNA virus that serves as a model system for herpesviruses. My primary project focused on a ring of conserved tryptophan residues that encircles the wing domain of the portal protein. This project sparked my interest in viral DNA packaging, and I am looking forward to using new structural techniques at the University of York such as cryo-EM to further explore the molecular mechanisms underlying DNA packaging in dsDNA viruses.
Membrane-containing dsDNA viruses are currently underrepresented in the virosphere, but metagenomic and structure-based studies are starting to reveal their diversity and importance. The Tectiviridae family of internal membrane-containing bacteriophages is perhaps the best studied family belonging to the PRD1-adenoviral lineage. My project will focus on bacteriophage phiKo, which is an uncharacterized tectivirus that infects Thermus thermophilus. The goal of this project is to use cryo-EM in combination with other structural techniques to better understand the mechanisms of DNA packaging by FtsK-HerA ATPases. We hope to gain new insights into virus structure, assembly and infectivity that can contribute to the development of novel therapeutics, nanomaterials and biotechnology.