Horianopoulos, Linda

Doctor of Philosophy
Jim Kronstad
Kitimat, Canada
The role of proteins facilitating the elaboration of capsule and virulence factors in the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans
At any given time, one quarter of the world's population has a fungal infection. These infections are normally limited to a superficial infection such as dandruff or athlete's foot, however some fungi such as Cryptococcus neoformans are able to cause systemic infections. C. neoformans has the ability to survive at human body temperature and elaborate several virulence factors allowing it to establish a lung infection, disseminate, and cause cryptococcal meningitis. I am studying a group of proteins which may facilitate survival at human body temperature and the elaboration of these virulence factors. As I am identifying the proteins involved, I am also characterizing them to understand the mechanism by which they contribute to virulence.

I had an extremely positive experience working in a lab as an undergraduate. My supervisor at the time gave me lots of opportunities to work fairly independently in the lab. He also encouraged me to attend the department's colloquium series. I enjoyed the lab work and was excited by the talks I heard in the colloquium. I wanted to continue being a part of the process of discovery in an environment where I would develop new techniques - so grad school seemed like the perfect choice.

Don't measure your worth and derive all your joy on the success of one research project. This can be difficult because you will spend so much of your time and effort on your thesis project. It is prudent to have a side project in case things don't go so well with your main project. It is also important to have good friends and extra-curricular activities so your project is not the only thing you are doing.