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Emily P

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)


Microbiology, Virology, Lipid metabolism, obesity research, Cancer Biology, Animal models for research, Biology, Microbiome, Gut Brain Axis, Metabolism


Hello, my name is Emily! I grew up in Concord, NC and attended The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) for undergrad. Go Heels! In high school, I ran cross country and track, served on student council, led multiple clubs, and volunteered at the elementary school nearby. I've aways loved mentoring students and am excited you're here. At UNC, I studied Biology and was also involved in many extracurriculars on campus. I started working in a Microbiology lab during my junior year. I quickly fell in love with research and decided to pursue a postbaccalaurate fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to further my training before applying to graduate school. My research at the NIH was focused on characterizing a small protein in the nonpathogenic bacteria, Bacillus subtilis. The lab's goal is to use specific bacterial systems to design synthetic vehicles for the delivery of cancer drugs in a targeted way. In other words, they are using basic science to improve therapeutics and establish precision medicine treatments for cancer patients. I am currently a third year PhD student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). I am a part of the Molecular Biology Program, specifically within the Biological Chemistry department. I am specifically interested in metabolism and how it leads to diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular pathologies, and type II diabetes. I mentor an undergraduate student in the lab 10 hrs/wk and work as a teaching assistant in Biology courses at UCLA. In my free time, I enjoy surfing with my husband, hiking with friends, and spending time with my dog. I also love to try new restaurants and coffeeshops on the weekends!

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.

Mining the Human Microbiome

Humans and bacterial species coexist in many different ways. This project aims to investigate similarities and differences among various human microbiomes. Students could chose to compare microbiome data from different populations of people (i.e. how does living in China vs. USA affect the composition of a person's microbiome? What predictions can we make based on correlations between diet and microbes?). Students could also chose to look at data from different microbiomes of the same people (i.e. skin vs. gut vs. oral). In both cases, we would chose a few species to characterize further to better understand the symbiosis of humans and bacteria. We could also take this project a step further by investigating microbiome data from disease samples (i.e. what species are present in the microbiome of a cancer patient - before and after undergoing chemotherapy).

Metabolism - nurture vs. nature

This project would involve doing a review article or poster looking at what evidence is published on how much of our metabolism is a result of one's genetics compared to one's environment. Metabolism affects our weight, digestive patterns, and risk of metabolic disease such as diabetes and cardiovascular illness. This project could explore this phenomenon across geographical locations, sex, age, etc.

Teaching experience

I have successfully mentored two students with Polygence. In addition, I have volunteered as a pen pal for elementary school students to excite them about science. I also worked for two years in underserved middle schools in Washington, DC leading science experiments every other Saturday. During my time as a postbaccalaureate fellow at the NIH (2 years following my undergraduate studies 2017-2019), I co-chaired our summer student seminar series as well as led a summer student journal club. During that time, I mentored summer students in the lab as well. Currently, I mentor a UCLA undergraduate student in the lab. I also serve as a teaching assistant to over one hundred students at UCLA.


Work experience

National Institutes of Health (2017 - 2019)
Post baccalaureate Fellow


University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill)
BS Bachelor of Science (2017)
Microbiology; Metabolism; Nutrition
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Metabolism, Microbiome, and Nutrition (metabolic diseases such as Type II Diabetes, Obesity, heart disease)

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