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Natalia K

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at Northwestern University


Molecular biology, biochemistry and microbiology


Hello! I'm interested in understanding how various microorganisms, specifically viruses, interact with their hosts and cause diseases. This involves understanding various aspects of cell biology and microbiology, which are my favorite biology fields. My current research is understanding the mechanism of viral protein synthesis during poxvirus infection. When I'm not working I enjoy relaxing at home with my husband and our little zoo family, our two dogs and a tortoise, playing video games and eating good food.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Understanding host-pathogen interactions

Intracellular pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses, infect cells of their host as part of their lifecycle. They must also be able to adapt and manipulate their host in favor of their own survival. This begins at the initial step of a pathogen binding to the outer membrane of the cellular host. This is a crucial step as the pathogen must adapt so that it can both successfully enter the host without triggering the defence mechanism and also be specific enough to infect the cell it can replicate in. Once the pathogen enters, it must make more copies of itself to complete the lifecycle while simultaneously acquiring all the essential nutrients and building blocks. It is also fighting against the host to keep the defence system at bay. All pathogens have different approaches to how they interact with their host to ultimately make more copies of itself at every step of its lifecycle. In this project, you will write a scientific review or a journal article explaining how a pathogen of your choice interacts and manipulates their cellular host to complete its life-cycle. You will learn how to read scientific literature, identify gaps in research, and communicate your findings. In addition you will learn various concepts of microbiology and cellular biology, specifically in the topic of host-pathogen interactions. I will guide you through every step of the project, including understanding the biology that you may not be familiar with.

Coding skills

R, introductory level

Languages I know

Russian, fluent in writing/speaking/reading

Teaching experience

During high school and undergrad I have tutored school aged children in math and reading for a few years. As a graduate student I have also worked as a TA.


Work experience

Northwestern University (2019 - Current)
Graduate Student
Northwestern University (2017 - 2019)
Research Technician


University of Illinois at Chicago
BS Bachelor of Science (2016)
Northwestern University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Molecular Biology/Virology

Completed Projects

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