Sarah Dulson, Ph.D.
Microbiology & Immunology
University of Alabama Birmingham – Biomedical Sciences – Immunology
Helen Lazear, Ph.D.
I received my PhD in Immunology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. There, I trained in the Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology under the mentorship of Dr. Laurie Harrington whose lab studies T cell-mediated autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. My dissertation focused on a population of intestinal immune cells called Innate Lymphoid Cells (ILCs). I was particularly interested in the extracellular signals that modulated the function of ILCs in the context of enteric infection as well as chronic inflammation.
As a SPIRE Scholar, I am conducting research under the mentorship of Dr. Helen Lazear in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. The Lazear laboratory studies host-pathogen interactions during flavivirus infections. Flavivurses, such as West Nile Virus, Dengue Viruses, and Zika Virus, are classically transmitted through inset vectors. Zika Virus is a unique flavivirus because it can also be sexually transmitted and can cause congenital infection. However, the protective and pathogenic features of the immune response to Zika Virus in the female reproductive tract are not completely understood. Therefore, my project investigates the cellular and molecular immune responses that are elicited in the female reproductive tract in response to Zika virus infection.
In my undergraduate and graduate studies, I served as a teaching assistant in courses including Anatomy & Physiology and Mucosal Immunology. I have also taken courses on pedagogy that focused on evidence-based teaching strategies and the theory of teaching as research. As a SPIRE scholar, I am particularly excited to be in a position to influence a diverse student population, and I believe that fostering a cohort of young scientists that represent all races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations will enhance the quality of science conducted in future generations. Further, I am looking forward to hands-on experience in course development and integrating innovative and active learning environments into the undergraduate STEM classroom.