BLACKSBURG, Va., July 1, 2013 – Kelly Drews of Leesburg, Va., a senior majoring in biological sciences in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, has been awarded a highly competitive Undergraduate Research Fellowship through the American Society for Microbiology.

Kelly Drews, left, and Shiv Kale discuss research at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech














The fellowship rewards academically gifted students who intend to pursue graduate studies in microbiology. It provides a 10-week summer research stipend as well as travel funds to the 2014 American Society of Microbiology general meeting in Boston.

"I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work in the Kale Lab at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute," Drews said. "This fellowship will give me the opportunity to further my research without the additional demands of traditional academic school year."

Drews will continue his current research under the mentorship of Shiv Kale, a research faculty member at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute. His research focuses on the trafficking of secreted proteins from the common fungus Aspergillus fumigatus during invasive aspergillosis, which is a growing problem for immunocompromised individuals and solid organ transplant recipients. Successful colonization of human lung tissue leads to the fungus infiltrating the entire organ, resulting in severe morbidity and rapid death.

The Kale Group is currently studying the role of these secreted proteins during invasive aspergillosis with the goal of developing novel therapeutics.

During the summer of 2013, almost 100 students are taking part in paid undergraduate research experiences through the Fralin Life Science Institute Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship; the Scieneering program; Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise Summer Undergraduate Research Scholars Program; the Summer Engineering Education Collaboratory program; and Research Experiences for Undergraduates in Tire and Automotive Engineering. The Office of Undergraduate Research is coordinating workshops and activities for the programs’ participants through the summer. Students will present their work at the Virginia Tech Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium on Wednesday, July 31.

The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech is a premier bioinformatics, computational biology, and systems biology research facility that uses transdisciplinary approaches to science combining information technology, biology, and medicine. These approaches are used to interpret and apply vast amounts of biological data generated from basic research to some of today’s key challenges in the biomedical, environmental, and agricultural sciences. With more than 240 highly trained multidisciplinary, international personnel, research at the institute involves collaboration in diverse disciplines such as mathematics, computer science, biology, plant pathology, biochemistry, systems biology, statistics, economics, synthetic biology, and medicine. The large amounts of data generated by this approach are analyzed and interpreted to create new knowledge that is disseminated to the world’s scientific, governmental, and wider communities.



Tiffany L Trent

July 01, 2013