Throughout the entirety of our program, we’ve had the privilege of getting to hear several speakers from the Duke faculty describe their lives and their experiences in research. I’ve really enjoyed receiving insight from each faculty member in regards to their life before research and what events or decisions lead them into the world of research. A common theme I noticed was many of the faculty credited excellent mentors with leading them to where they are today; I find that extremely encouraging, in that Duke is an environment full of amazing mentors.
In particular, one faculty member whose research caught my attention Dr. Raphael Valdivia. Dr. Valdivia studies the pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis, which can cause sexually transmitted infections. I’ve always been interested in the study of pathogens, so I immediately found Dr. Valdivia’s work fascinating. I really enjoyed his use of videos describing how the pathogen thrives within membrane-bound compartments in cells (I had never heard of bacterial pathogens doing this!). I also found it very interesting how he described social stigma related to his work (due to the nature of transmission of the pathogen). Overall I found his research extremely exciting, and am very curious to learn more about it.