Biochemistry student wins American Society for Microbiology fellowship

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Kimbria Blake

Kimbria Blake envisions a research career in infectious disease. Her commitment as a biochemistry undergraduate at RIT already has earned her national recognition.

The American Society for Microbiology recently named Blake an Undergraduate Research Fellow. The society awarded the fellowship to 56 of the 122 applicants after the completion of their proposed research projects.

Blake, a third-year student from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, received a $4,000 stipend, a two-year student membership to the American Society for Microbiology and funding for travel expenses to the society’s national meeting in Denver in May.

“Winning this award gave me the opportunity to advance my undergraduate research career and renew my passion for my research project,” Blake says. “Through this award I spent 10 weeks devoted to my research and in turn found that I had the ability to plan experiments, answer questions, and propose new ideas. This newly found confidence and independence further cemented my goal to obtain a PhD.”

The fellowship supported Blake’s ongoing research on PHO13 from Saccharomyces Cerevisiae with her mentor, Suzanne O’Handley, associate professor of chemistry at RIT.

“I am working on characterizing and determining what a certain protein (PHO13) does in Baker’s yeast,” Blake says. “In S. aureus (the bacterium that causes staph infections, MRSA, etc.), there is a similar protein (to the PHO13 in yeast) that has been found to promote infection. Through figuring out what PHO13 does in yeast, this research can then be applied to the protein in S. aureus, a potential novel antibiotic target, to discover new medicines for the treatment of staph infections.”

Blake is the recipient of several awards, including a Goldwater scholarship last spring. Her other honors and awards include an RIT Presidential Scholarship, Nathaniel Rochester Society Scholarship, freshman and sophomore awards from the RIT Department of Chemistry, College of Science Summer Research Fellowship, and a College of Science Chemistry/Materials Science Research Fellowship.

Blake is a member of the RIT Honors Program and is an RIT Chemistry Research Scholar

She is a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Student Affiliates and the RIT InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She is also a tutor and teaching assistant for the chemistry department.