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The Science of SpaceChris Hartlove

The Science of Space (continued)

A Killer Fungus

Cissy Li
3rd-year PhD student
Environmental Health Sciences
PI: Valeria Culotta, PhD (BMB)

Though the HIV virus has many partners in shortening life, few are as brutally efficient as Candida albicans, a yeast fungus. In people with weakened immune systems, C. albicans proves deadly 35–40 percent of the time.

Cissy Li is studying an unusual antioxidant enzyme that’s found in C. albicans and seems to be involved in its deadly impacts. She hopes to tease out the enzyme’s role and, in turn, highlight a potential vulnerability that would be unique to the fungi.

For Li, the new lab’s spacious, open layout means faster trouble-shooting. Often when bench neighbors are chatting about a problem, she says, someone all the way across the room will pipe up with a solution. On the flip side, Li appreciates having all the team’s back-up equipment—freezers, refrigerators, temperature-controlled shakers—tucked in nearby rooms where they can’t be heard.


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