Preventing pandemics | Willett’s research focuses on vaccines.

Student Spotlight on Bailey Willett ’20: Combating Antigenic Drift in Influenza Viruses

In 2009, the world saw the first influenza pandemic in more than forty years in the form of the H1N1 strain. Although response to this variant was fast and a vaccine quickly developed, the fight against influenza hasn’t ended. Bailey Willett ’20 continues to be a part of this fight as a Cornell undergraduate researcher working to combat the new strains of influenza that appear every year. Willett works alongside graduate student David Buchholz in the Aguilar-Carreno Lab of Microbiology and Immunology doing research concerning antigenic drift, one of influenza’s greatest hidden weapons. According to the Centers for Disease Control, antigenic drift is an abrupt change in the glycoprotein receptor makeup of the virus.

Canine connection  | Prof. Elia Tait Wojno, animal health, (pictured above), is the namesake of the lab in which Page works to understand the optimal inflammatory response to diseases.

Student Spotlight on Melissa Page ’20: Researching an Optimal Response to Allergies

Corrections appended. There are few things that can put a damper on an end of summer evening in upstate New York, but allergies are one of them. The classic watery eyes, incessant sneezing, and insatiable back of throat itch one feels while relaxing on Libe Slope or hiking to Second Dam can be attributed to little molecules called allergens, and our bodies response to them. Yet pollen isn’t the only thing that can send one running for a tissue or bathroom. Many compounds in the environment including plants, food and insect product can cause full scale immunological responses and Melissa Page ’20 has set out to better understand why.

Parasitic threat | Black vine weevils such as these pose a significant threat to a variety of crops vital to New York agriculture.

Student Spotlight on Ben Engbers: Researching a Sustainable Way to Control Pests

While many Cornell students were off enjoying summer vacation away from Ithaca, Ben Engbers ’20 remained on campus to defend and improve the vitality of New York’s berry industry. As a research assistant and project manager at Elson Shields Laboratory of Entomology, Engbers has dedicated the majority of his undergraduate career to demonstrating the efficacy of nematodes as a sustainable biocontrol for berry farms.

“Nematodes are a native, sustainable, and organic solution to a food security problem that is affecting New York state and the world,” Engbers said. While Shields laboratory has studied the behavior and application of nematodes as pest control for over two decades, this summer, Engbers facilitated a specific project concerning the control of black vine weevil at Rulfs Orchard located five hours away in Peru, NY. “My work this summer resulted in promising data that I am excited to see published and ultimately applied in the real world,” he said. Black vine weevil is a formidable obstacle to crop growers worldwide and has been a significant detriment to the berry industry.

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Advocating For Agriculture on a National Level

Conor McCabe ’18, promoted federal funding for agricultural research and land-grant universities in Washington D.C from March 4th to 7th as the first-ever student selected to serve as a delegate for the Association of Public Land Grant Universities’ Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching. In an interview with The Sun, McCabe talked about the importance of having a current student’s perspective when making funding decisions relating to education and research. “Many of the individuals who previously served on [CARET] were at the end of their careers, but there had never been a point of view of someone who was currently experiencing the land-grant system as a student,” McCabe said. “I had such a unique story to tell that would show the power of the land-grant university system and how my life has been directly impacted by it.”

The motivation behind McCabe’s involvement in D.C. stemmed not only from his academic background, but also from his personal history. The kinds of agricultural programs for which he advocated in D.C. were similar to those from which he had benefited from in his childhood.

Suzuki enjoying herself at Yellowstone National Park in summer 2017. In addition to running, Suzuki is an active climber and nature enthusiast.

Spotlight on Sophomore Sawako Suzuki: Running Across the Country for Cancer

Meet Sawako Suzuki ’20, a student passionate about solving scientific problems outside the classroom. For some people running is a sport or a rigorous workout. For Suzuki, running is a medium for community engagement, research, philanthropy and healthcare. This summer, she will be running across the country as a fundraiser for youth cancer patients. The run is from San Francisco to Boston.