My name is Alice Cai, and I am a second-year in the Ohio State Honors program. I am a Microbiology major and a History minor, with a Thematic Minor in Environment, Health, Technology, and Science.
I work in OSU Wexner Medical Center’s Department of Microbial Infection & Immunity, in the lab of Prof. Daniel J. Wozniak. I work directly under Dr. Katarzyna Danis-Wlodarczyk, and my research focuses on bacteriophage therapy as treatment for Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms, especially in cystic fibrosis patients.
In addition, I really enjoy service. I volunteer at free clinics in Appalachia with Ohio State’s Remote Area Medical chapter, helping provide free medical, dental, vision, and veterinary services to underserved communities. I also am on the E-board of Ohio State’s Habitat for Humanity chapter, through which I help build houses and provide services to assist families living in poverty.
I plan to pursue medical school and research, with an interest in infectious disease.
In July, I left my position in the lab of Dr. Amit Sharma in OSU College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Veterinary Biosciences, where I did work with HIV/SIV.
Since August, I have worked in the lab of Prof. Daniel J. Wozniak in OSUMC’s Department of Microbial Infection & Immunity. My research focuses on bacteriophage therapy as a treatment for P. aeruginosa biofilms. I have continued to develop my skills in bench work and data analysis under the direct supervision of Dr. Danis-Wlodarczyk. Data I generated is included in a manuscript that is currently in preparation and will be included in presentations at scientific conferences and seminars.
I have continued to volunteer with both Remote Area Medical and Habitat for Humanity. This year, I attended four clinics with RAM at:
Dayton, Ohio (Emergency Tornado Relief)
Charleston, West Virginia
These experiences have been both insightful and fulfilling.
With RAM, I have enjoyed talking with the various healthcare professionals who come to volunteer their time and expertise. I was even trained for Narcan at the Charleston clinic. I really enjoy speaking with patients at the clinics, as well. The stories patients tell really highlights how people fall through the gaps in the American healthcare system.
I spent the semester shadowing Dr. Andrew King in Ohio State’s Department of Emergency Medicine. Although it was cut short by COVID-19, I was able to shadow for a few full shifts in the ER and really enjoyed the experience. I watched hand-offs from first responders to doctors, observed how a Level II trauma is handled, and even helped an orthopedics resident cast a broken ankle. Even aside from these more exciting experiences, I really liked the overall pace of the ER, and emergency medicine is a specialty I would definitely be interested in.
My History minor is one way through which I cultivate Global Awareness. I took History/Microbiology 3704, which examined the history of HIV/AIDS globally. I also will be taking History 3307: History of African Health and Healing in the fall. I plan for my STEP project to be the education abroad offered by OSU’s History and Microbiology departments: HIV in Context in Tanzania.
I did research in the lab of Dr. Amit Sharma, which focused on developing a SIV/SHIV macaque model for HIV-1 in humans. I now do research in the lab of Prof. Daniel J. Wozniak, where I investigate bacteriophage therapy as treatment for Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms.
I have taken and plan to further take high-level and Honors courses. I plan to pursue medicine as well as research. I chose to major in Microbiology because I am especially interested in infectious disease. I chose to minor in History with a Thematic Minor in Environment, Health, Technology, and Science because I enjoy learning how greater social and historical events influence science and society today.
I serve as Assistant Program Director for Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Mechanisms of Human Health and Disease, an intensive 6-week college-level summer program for high school students. In this role, I have worked to design and implement a curriculum to encourage exposure to science (outside of just medicine) as well as interdisciplinary and life skills.
I regularly volunteer at free clinics in Appalachia with Remote Area Medical, which provides free medical, dental, vision, and veterinary services to underserved communities. I also volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, through which I help build houses and provide services to assist families living in poverty
I began my first year at Ohio State finishing up an internship at the Ohio House of Representatives in the office of Rep. Ashford.
My work focused on contacting constituents, putting together research, and writing speeches and press releases; all of this centered around Rep. Ashford’s HB 123, which reformed Ohio’s payday lending industry. A previous loophole in the law had allowed payday loan businesses to operate in Ohio and take advantage of people who took out these loans by charging exorbitantly high interest and other fees. I spoke to one woman who had already repaid her initial loan 5 times over and still would owe money for the next few years. My experience in the internship really put into perspective the direct impact policies can have on everyday people.
After my internship, I was hired to work as a Legislative Page for the House Democratic Caucus, where I worked for the rest of the autumn semester.
In January, I began a position in OSU College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Veterinary Biosciences, in the lab of Dr. Amit Sharma. My research focused on HIV-1/AIDS in humans. There are few effective animal models for HIV/AIDS, so my work focused on optimizing the model of SIVs (simian immunodeficiency virus) as well as developing chimeric SHIVs in macaques.
I gained experience working with SIV, HIV, and SHIV in a BSL2+ laboratory and learned many virology techniques, including cell culture, cloning, transfection, PCR, gel electrophoresis, Western blots, virus production, and viral titers.
Microbiology and History
My favorite course of my freshman year was History/Microbiology 3704: HIV: From Microbiology to Macrohistory. The course focused on social, political, and global context of HIV/AIDS, from its origins to its spread throughout the world as well as activism, imperialism, and global health implications today. My group was also invited to present at the course’s Pecha Kucha night. This course was the reason I decided to minor in History.