CEIRR Cross-Network Awardee Jennifer Habel

SpotlightOctober 06, 2022

Interview with CEIRR Cross-Network Awardee Jennifer Habel

Jennifer Habel in front of a microscope.

CEIRR Cross-Network Training Awardee, Jennifer Habel at the Doherty Institute in Melbourne, Australia is coming back to the United States! Jennifer is in her second year of her PhD program and works in the laboratory of Katherine Kedzierska, PhD. The CEIRR training award will support Jennifer in spending 3-weeks training and collaborating with researchers in the laboratory of Paul Thomas, PhD at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

At St. Jude, Jennifer will perform single-cell transcriptomic analyses on antigen-specific T-cells to identify key features of the immune response of pregnant women with respiratory infections. The single-cell transcriptomic analysis will be done using blood samples of maternal blood, cord blood, and placenta collected from a cohort of pregnant women that were either healthy or have infections with SARS-CoV-2, influenza, or other respiratory associated pathogens, “There are so many changes during pregnancy, it will be interesting to identify factors that are specific to infections”. 

Jennifer has been in Australia since 2015, she is originally from the suburbs of Chicago, IL. After 2 years of lockdown, she is able to travel again, “I am both scared and excited to be traveling again and it will be nice to be back in the States”. Australia had some of the strictest lockdown protocols; Jennifer had to stay within a 5km radius of her house. However, she said that this did not damper her research but instead “I was able to start on COVID-19 research right away”. Congratulations to Jennifer Habel, we hope that you enjoy being back in the States and cannot wait to see the results of this CIDER and SJCEIRR collaboration! 

During the interview Jennifer was asked some challenging speed questions: 

Q: If you couldn’t study T-cells, what type of cells would you like to study?

A: If I couldn’t study T-cells, I guess it would be Natural killer (NK) cells.

Q: What is your favorite mundane lab task?

A: I really enjoy counting cells and making buffers, as long as I don’t have to PH them!

Q: Aside from the research, what are you most excited about for your Cross-Network training at St. Jude? 

A: Just to travel, I am excited I can finally go outside of Australia again. 

Q: After you finish your PhD, what are your career plans? 

A: I would like to stay in academics or maybe go into industry. Really, I just want to stay at the bench and continue doing experiments.