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Helen B

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at Yale University


Immunology, microbiology, viruses, bacteria, cellular biology, genetics, epigenetics, molecular biology


Hello! My name is Helen and I am an immunologist. I study how we interact with the viruses and bacteria around us. I am trying to learn how we keep maintain a good relationship with the bacteria that live in our intestinal tract and keep us happy and healthy. I also study the different mechanisms our bodies use to fight off bacteria and virus infections that can make us sick. I love being a scientist because my job is to be curious and to discover things that are unknown! I hope to spread my excitement and curiosity about the world around us and to teach the next generation of scientists. When I am not doing research or teaching science, I love being outdoors. My favorite hobbies are hiking and riding my bike. I also read as much as I can, not just books about science and history, but also lots of fiction! I have a pet cat and a pet snake. My pet snake is named after one of my favorite proteins, HMGB, but I call him Humbug.

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.

History of pandemics

While the current COVID pandemic may seem overwhelming, it is not the first global pandemic humans have experienced. Through this project, you will learn about the history of pandemics and the microorganisms that caused them. You can explore the similarities and differences between the public health responses to these outbreaks. You can also determine what steps can be taken to improve responses to future pandemics. If you are more interested in microbiology, you can determine what the causative agents of past pandemics were and delineate the types of microorganisms that are more or less likely to cause pandemics.

How do vaccines work?

During the COVID pandemic, vaccines have been all over the news! But how do they work? Through this project, you will explore how vaccines work and the history of science behind vaccine development. While the final project will be up to you, the ultimate goal of this project is for you to be a true public health advocate for vaccines and to be able to communicate why vaccines are so important.


Our bodies are covered and filled with lots of microorganisms that help keep us healthy. In this project, you will explore the microbiome to learn about the different kinds of organisms that compose it, as well as the functions they play. This project can be looked at with different lenses. If you are more interested in the history of science, you are welcome to explore the history of the discovery of the microbiome and how it has been studied throughout the years. If you would like to develop your computational skills, you can use publicly available datasets to compare and contrast different microbial communities. More of a microbiologist? You are welcome to delve into how taking antibiotics can affect your microbiome and how to minimize detrimental side effects after antibiotic use!

Coding skills

R, python

Languages I know

Russian- fluent, French- intermediate, German- conversational

Teaching experience

In lab settings, I have mentored multiple undergraduate students. I have also obtained a College Certificate of Teaching Preparation (CCTP) & CIRTL Associate certification from Yale University and have taught a variety of courses, both as a teaching assistant and lead instructor, in in-person and virtual settings, to students at the high school and college level. In addition, I have had a variety of science outreach experiences, including podcasting, public talks, and science exhibit curation.


Work experience

University of Chicago (2021 - Current)
Postdoctoral scholar


University of Chicago
BA Bachelor of Arts (2014)
Biological sciences
Yale University
MPhil Master of Philosophy (2017)
Yale University
MS Master of Science (2016)
Yale University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy (2021)

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