Michelle is a student researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she works at a lab in the College of Microbiology researching ketoglutarate dehydrogenase’s catalytic effects in the tryptophan metabolic pathway. She is studying Molecular/Cellular Biology with a focus in neuroscience and genetics. She is the Research Director of the BioHacking Village (BHV), with her main interests being in medicine, bioweaponry, and neuromodulation. Her former independent research includes studies on epigenetics in relation to Alzheimer’s Disease at Northwestern University and literature reviews of Ebola concerning the 2014-2016 outbreak. In her spare time she enjoys making art, cooking, eating, memes, and Staying Up Too Late™.
SARS, H1N1, MRSA, Zika, Ebola. The human body is terrifyingly vulnerable. With the rise of novel gene-editing techniques and our increasing knowledge of genomics, we are forced to confront the idea of a microscopic enemy. This talk will explore the not-so-theoretical aftermath of an unchecked pandemic of unknown origin, the monsters we created in our own medical hubris, and the ever-present threat of bioterrorism. The unpredictability of such weapons, and our inability to create safety brakes for the ones we do create will also be discussed.