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Michelle B

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of Virginia


Cancer Biology, Data Science, Cell Signaling


Hello! I'm a Ph.D. candidate using data science approaches to understand which cell signaling pathways are most responsible for increased aggressiveness and resistance to chemotherapy in pancreatic cancer. Cancer signaling is complicated, so computational modeling is an excellent tool for making sense of messy data. My favorite way to collect data is through fluorescence imaging of cell signal activation and cell state markers. When I'm not in the lab, I enjoy taking my dog for walks, practicing yoga, and playing Dungeons and Dragons. I also love to bake and watch the Great British Baking Show. On Tuesdays, you can usually find me grabbing half price tacos at a local restaurant with my friends.

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.

How does cancer develop resistance to therapy?

Why might a cancer treatment stop working? Cancer cells have many tricks up their sleeves when it comes to evading therapy. In this project, I will help you to read scientific articles in the literature, identify the major mechanisms of drug resistance, then write a review article for publication in a high school science journal. In the process you will learn about cancer research and gain skills in science writing.

Debunking Science Myths

Claims about genetics, cancer prevention, and cancer treatment can spread quickly on social media. Take a look at some of the content being shared in these arenas, then review the scientific literature to determine how true these are. Create a your own video, podcast, or essay where you present the data in a clear and engaging way to a general audience.

Exploring the World Through Data Science

There is an enormous amount of data collected every day (biological, ecological, etc.) that you can use to ask interesting questions. In this project I would help you find a data set you are curious about, formulate a question, build a data science model to answer that question, and then present the results in a scientific paper and share your code to a code-sharing platform like GitHub. One example could be building a linear regression model of protein data to predict brain cancer outcomes, but I will help you to find a topic that interests you!

Coding skills

R, Python

Teaching experience

I have been a graduate student mentor for the past two years, teaching undergraduate students laboratory techniques, data processing and statistical analysis in R programming language, and scientific presentation skills.


Work experience

Henry M Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine (2017 - 2019)
Research Assistant


College of William and Mary
BS Bachelor of Science (2017)
University of Virginia
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Experimental Pathology

Completed Projects

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