Shariya Terrell ’06, postdoctoral fellow at Emory University School of Medicine, received the Priscilla Schaffer Outstanding Presentation Award at the 41st annual International Herpesvirus Workshop in July. The award is given to one graduate student and one postdoctoral fellow in recognition of excellent oral and poster presentation(s).
Terrell’s presentation detailed scientific findings generated over the past several years at Emory.
“I engineered a genetically modified virus that allows us to track viral gene expression during infection,” Terrell explains. “This tool will allow us to investigate how the virus manipulates immune cell function and compromises the body’s defense against foreign invaders.”
After Centre, Terrell earned a Ph.D. at Harvard Medical School in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology, which laid the groundwork for her HSV studies.
“Herpesvirus infections are prevalent among the United States population and generally cause minimal disease symptoms in healthy individuals,” Terrell says. “Recently, we have gained a greater appreciation of how preexisting herpesvirus infections can negatively impact one’s ability to fight off subsequent infections.
“Our research aims to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms by which herpesviruses establish a latent infection,” she continues, “which allows the virus to maintain residence for the lifetime of the infected host. We believe that our work has the potential to make a positive impact on human health.”
Although Terrell has moved on to work and leadership opportunities at large research universities, she maintains close ties to Centre College and credits her liberal arts education for setting her on her career path.
“I recently read an article that highlighted Centre’s National Science Foundation Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) award to support underrepresented minorities in the sciences,” Terrell says. “I can honestly say that it was my summer research internship opportunity with Stephen Asmus, H.W. Stodghill, Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Biology and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, that kick-started my path to pursuing biomedical research as a profession. He offered a summer internship opportunity in his research program, which gave me my first hands-on experience in a molecular biology lab.
“Subsequently,” she goes on to explain, “Professor of Chemistry Joe Workman encouraged me to apply for the summer honors undergraduate research program (SHURP) at Harvard Medical School, which later led to enrolling at graduate school at Harvard.”
Terrell says she believes the Priscilla Schaffer Award is proof that Centre is completely deserving of the LSAMP award, explaining that these initiatives truly have an impact on the participants involved.
“I can personally attest to the fact that my liberal arts background contributed to my success in scientific research,” she concludes. “It was the x-factor that won the confidence of my current employer upon initial review of my application.
“I wouldn’t be here today without the support of Centre College,” she adds.
The Priscilla Schaffer Award was named in honor of a leader in the field of herpesvirus genetics who had a great impact on the scientific field as well as the numerous students that trained under her. Schaffer was an internationally recognized virologist who published more than 150 papers and was renowned for her mentorship of students, postdoctoral fellows and fellow faculty.
by Cindy Long
September 28, 2016