Visitor of the Week: Bevin English


Meet Bevin English of the University of California, Davis. The postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Renée Tsolis’ lab is at CSHL for her first meeting: Microbial Pathogenesis & Host Response. Here is what she has to say of her first experience:

So far, this meeting is going more or less as I expected, which is great because I had pretty high expectations. I’ve been able to really get to know scientists in my field and hear about their latest results in a really beautiful setting.

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
Generally speaking, my research interest is host-pathogen interactions, with a particular focus on intracellular pathogens. Right now I’m investigating how different types of host cells respond to infection with Brucella abortus.

How did you decide to make this the focus of your research?
I became interested in intracellular pathogens specifically during graduate school, when I studied Histoplasma capsulatum under Dr. Anita Sil at UCSF. That was when I started to really appreciate the intricate interplay between the pathogen, which has evolved various strategies to manipulate the biology of the host cell in order to survive inside of it, and the host, which then has to evolve strategies to counteract the pathogen.

How did your scientific journey begin?
I’ve always been interested in science, even as a kid, and I became fascinated by infectious diseases in particular when I was in middle school. I had my first research experience as an undergraduate with Dr. Karen Hales at Davidson College, and after that first experience as an independent investigator--designing, executing, and interpreting my own experiments--I was hooked.

Was there something specific about the Microbial Pathogenesis & Host Response Meeting that drew you to attend?
There was a flyer advertising the meeting outside my lab, and when I saw the list of presenters, I was immediately impressed by the caliber. I chatted with my PI and colleagues who had attended the meeting in the past, and they had nothing but good things to say about it, so I decided to attend.

What is your key takeaway from the Meeting?
There are two sides to every story in host-pathogen interactions, and a lot of people, myself included, tend to stay in their comfort zone. But I’ve talked to a lot of people who emphasized that it’s important to go where the science takes you, and there are always people with more expertise who are willing to help you out.

What and/or how will you apply what you’ve learned from the meeting to your work?
My research project has shifted to immunometabolism, which I don’t have much experience in. Fortuitously, the second talk of this meeting was focused on metabolic reprogramming during infection and showed that a metabolite produced by the host affected bacterial pathogenesis by acting as a signal rather than a nutrient. It’s changing how I think about my results.

If someone curious in attending this meeting asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
I would definitely tell them to attend. In addition to fascinating presentations on various aspects of pathogenesis from a wide range of microbes, there are ample opportunities to interact with high quality scientists at all stages of their careers, allowing you to get input on both your science and your career development.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
I have really enjoyed catching up with friends.

Thank you to Bevin for being this week's featured visitor. To meet other featured scientists - and discover the wide range of science that takes part in a CSHL meeting or course - go here.