Meagan Rippee-Brooks started her thesis research early. How early? She started it in her undergraduate years.
After learning from graduate student lab mentors, she started her research her senior year.
About Rippee-Brooks’s research
Rippee-Brooks’s research centers around co-infections. When someone gets influenza A, their immune system is too busy fighting the flu to ward off other infections. Aspergillus fumigatus, a fungus, takes that opportunity to also infiltrate the body.
Together, the infections work together to destroy your immune system and cause mass inflammation that results in death 47-61 percent of the time.
Rippee-Brooks said that there is concern about co-infections because they have not been studied and no one knows why or how this is happening at such high rates.
“We’ve seen this during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic,” Rippee-Brooks said. “People weren’t just dying from flu alone. Opportunistic pathogens, like fungi, were causing high mortality.”
Her research, under the advisement of Dr. Chris Lupfer, assistant professor of biology, expands on what can be done.
“Our approach is innovative; there is nothing published in the scientific community pertaining to this condition that can occur in once healthy individuals who succumb to coinfection,” Rippee-Brooks said.
Rippee-Brooks has presented this research several times, most recently at the American Society for Virology July 14-18 in College Park, Maryland.
She won two poster awards for this research.
Rippee-Brooks also won a $1,000 research grant from Sigma Xi for her research.
“Going to conferences like this one gives me confidence as a scientist,” Rippee-Brooks said. “I am so grateful for the environment that the biology department and Missouri State provides its students.”