Hannah Richardson ’17

Through this work, I've learned how to set up a project I could reproduce in any other lab.

What is one of your favorite conference projects?

I’m particularly interested in infectious disease. My favorite conference project was a "Disease Ecology" class taught by Michelle Hersh (biology). Michelle has a National Science Foundation funded research project she’s been working on for the last five years, and my project stemmed from that.

I took fungal isolates from Michelle’s original study and grew them up from filter paper. From there, I cultured water ager plates—which are low nutrient plates—on which I put sterilized seeds of the same type found on the fungal isolate. After determining whether the presence of this fungus had an impact on seed germination, I placed the dead seeds on MEA plates, which allows whatever is growing inside the seeds to grow out on the plates. If this matches the original isolates, it shows Koch’s postulates, which proves pathogenicity. Michelle presented my work at a college upstate as part of her research, where my research will possibly be continued by other students and faculty.

How did faculty support you?

I cannot praise Michelle enough. With her, I’ve learned how to set up a large-scale science project from the very beginning—designing the experiment— to managing and analyzing the data, which involves computer science and programming. Through this work, I’ve learned how to set up a project I could reproduce in any other lab.

What’s next?

I was just offered a research assistant position at the DeRisi Lab at UCSF as part of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.