Summer Centered: Catherine Kim '21 Learns in the Lab
The biology major is researching contagious bacteria in Eric Miller’s lab this summer.
Though she spends her days working with an infectious disease, Catherine Kim ’21 isn’t concerned: she knows the safety protocols. The biology major is conducting research in an on-campus lab this summer, an opportunity funded by the Marian E. Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center’s Summer Scholars program.
Under the guidance of Assistant Professor of Biology Eric Miller, Kim is researching the bacteriocins present in Streptococcus pneumoniae, the bacterium responsible for pneumonia, bronchitis, and meningitis. To study the microorganism, Kim has learned new practices, such as gene cloning and insertion.
“Research skills like these are applicable to and prepare me for future experiments at Haverford, including my senior thesis, and for my career path, where I see myself working in a laboratory conducting research in similar topics,” she said.
The research track that this project has put the rising junior on is the result of an ongoing collaboration between Miller and Kim.
“I reached out to Professor Miller at the beginning of my sophomore year expressing interest in his research and began shadowing and assisting him and his seniors in the second semester,” she said.
Kim also receives assistance from many labmates. Despite the fact that they are working on different ongoing projects, all of the students in the Miller’s Microbial Evolution and Ecology lab gather daily to share tips and feedback.
“People may ask for advice with a protocol they’ve never done before or for extra assistance with a certain task,” she said. “Although we are all working on different projects, we all are learning from each other and helping each other in a familial environment.”
To Kim, time in the lab with bacteria is invaluable, as she aspires to one day become a pathologist with a focus on medicine and immunology.
“This particular project is important and relevant to my career goals because Streptococcus pneumoniae is a disease-causing bacterium,” she said. “This study could contribute to the advancement of medicine, potentially leading to the development of drugs that target Streptococcus pneumoniae’s immunity genes and drugs that act as artificial bacteriocins, to which the bacteria have not evolved any immunity genes to.”
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.