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Helen B

- Research Program Mentor

PhD Doctor of Philosophy


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

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

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