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The Science of SpaceChris Hartlove

The Science of Space (continued)

Seeing the Light

Dionne P. Robinson
6th-year PhD candidate, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (MMI)
PI: Sabra L. Klein, PhD

Despite our age-old fascination with sex differences, one topic rarely comes up in such discussions: immune responses to infection. Dionne P. Robinson’s research may soon change this.

Robinson is investigating how estradiol, a hormone primarily secreted by the ovaries, can help female mice fend off the influenza virus. She spends hours poring over lung samples from her mice—gauging how the presence of inflammation-related proteins and cells correlates with estradiol levels.

The new space has given Robinson a new neighbor: a molecular virology lab. It’s a great resource for relevant findings and ideas, as well as equipment. “Anytime we need to borrow something, they’re right there,” says Robinson. She often borrows automatic pipettes, while the neighbors stop by to use a plate-washer, which helps researchers avoid erroneous results caused by hand washing.

But best of all, says Robinson, are the windows. As she sits at her desk writing one final paper before completing her doctoral degree, she says, “It’s really nice to have some natural light coming in.”

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