Nicholas Meyerson | Virus Fossils
Explaining my Research
Viruses have exerted an incredible evolutionary pressure on humans and our ancestors that dates back many millions of years. This ancient battle with viruses still rages on inside all of us and leaves a unique mark in our DNA. Using a multi-pronged approach consisting of evolutionary, genomics, and experimental analyses, I am uncovering some 'genetic fossils' in humans that tell the tale of past viral infections. These 'fossils' may reveal the secret battle plan of viruses, allowing a more informed approach when dealing with future viral outbreaks.
How did you become involved with “Present your PhD Thesis to a 12 year-old” project?
I have been interested in teaching since I worked as a tutor at the University of Texas Learning Center while an undergraduate. It was pleasing to help others in their academic journey and, in doing so, it helped me to solidify many foundational concepts in science. This interest naturally followed me into my graduate career, where I began to present complex ideas in a digestible fashion for primary school students. I met Josh Russell and we used our common interest to propel this program forward.
What is your goal introducing such a project/topic to young students?
My main goal has always been to expedite the process whereby novel research ends up in the classroom. I feel that a major hurdle for igniting the interest of youngsters in the classroom is the lack of connection they have with scientists. By presenting my own research to them, I think the concept of a scientist becomes more clear to them, and they see that it is a career worth considering.
About the Ph.D. Thesis
Evolutionary signatures of positive selection in primates uncovers ancient host-virus arms races that span millions of years.