Alexis is a graduate student in the lab of Dr. Jean Celli in the Allen School.
PhD candidate Alexis Cotto-Rosario working in his lab.
What area of research is covered by your PhD work?
My research focuses on characterizing the host-pathogen interaction of bacterium from the genus Brucella. Specifically, I am characterizing Type 4 secretion system effector proteins and their role on Brucella pathogenesis. We have found that Brucella effector proteins have a major role in recruiting membranes from host organelles to establish a replication-permissive Brucella containing vacuole.
Why did you choose to join the graduate program at WSU?
I decided the Immunology and Infectious Disease program because of the commitment it has with the students and the passion of the people for science. This program supports the exploration of new research ideas and promotes collaborations among scientists. Commitment, support, and passion; that’s why I joined the program.
Where were you working/studying before your started your PhD?
Before coming to WSU, I was finishing my undergraduate degree at the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey. There I was introduced to research and worked as an undergraduate researcher for most of my degree. I also participated in a couple of research internships that helped me get acquainted with much of the skills I use, and improve, today.
How do you like to spend your time outside of work?
Outside of work I could either be drawing, painting, or walking around. Pullman is a great place to walk, with great landscapes for painting or taking pictures. I also bike along the many trails in Pullman; sometimes I even bike to Moscow!
What advice would you give students about to embark on a graduate degree?
As a graduate student, you are part of a team that is constantly trying to move forward in the field. Being diligent is expected and required for a successful career in science. Don’t be afraid of expressing concerns or doubts, it is likely that someone in the room either knows the answer or has the same question. It’s all about commitment, communication, and patience.
How do you expect to use your graduate degree?
It depends on the opportunities available when I finish my degree. Ideally, I would assume a post-doctoral position and continue doing independent research. Alternatively, I could join a biotech company or even start my own. Regardless of the career path I take, I am certain my graduate degree will help me improve as a scientist.