MaRyka Smith

MaRyka Smith is a veterinary student in the concurrent DVM/PhD Pathobiology Program at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. During summer 2019, MaRyka is participating in the ASIP Summer Research Opportunity in Pathology Program and Details of institution’s training programThe Veterinary Research Scholars program at Kansas State University while working in the laboratory of Dr. A. Sally Davis (Assistant Professor of Experimental Pathology, Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS). The Veterinary Research Scholars program is an intensive research-oriented experience directed towards attracting the most talented professional students into biomedical research careers. In particular, the program exposes veterinary students to critical thinking processes inherent to hypothesis-driven research activities, methodologies involved in design and execution of laboratory experiments and multi-center clinical trials, and ethical issues pertinent to biomedical research. The program consists of mentored research training by program faculty and weekly research workshops. The primary goal of MaRyka’s summer research project is to elucidate pathways the Rift Valley Fever Virus (RVFV) uses to bind and enter host cells. As a starting point, they are using glycan arrays to examine possible targets for RVFV binding. The glycan array results should narrow down the possible surface glycans on host cells that RVFV may bind for entry into the diversity of cell targets for which it is tropic. This data combined with recent research on RVFV’s lesions and cell tropism will enable the design of experiments that analyze specific binding and entry mechanisms and their competency in viral replication in relevant in vitro models. Elucidating these RVFV mechanisms will support the future development of more specific vaccines and antiviral therapies