Graduate Student Excellence-in-Research Award 2013
Katherine Verbist, a recent doctoral graduate in cellular biology, made significant contributions to the field during her time at UGA, publishing a total of five papers during her graduate career. Much of her work focuses on questions related to immunology. For her doctoral thesis, Verbist worked on understanding how the immune system mediates long-term protection to the influenza virus. She examined a group of cells known as CD8 T, which, once exposed to an infection, begin to “remember” previous infections and respond more rapidly and vigorously when they encounter the same infectious agents again. Verbist worked to discover how CD8 T cells are generated, maintained and how they find the sites of infection inside the body. Her work promises to inform the development of more effective vaccines against influenza viruses and many other agents that have evolved ways of avoiding the immune system. Verbist is working currently as a postdoctoral fellow at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.