INBRE scholars: Meet Carissa Brugman

June 28, 2013

Image with caption: Carissa Brugman

Carissa Brugman

Twenty-two undergraduate students are spending the summer at UNMC doing research.

They are called INBRE scholars and are part of the largest grant in UNMC history.

Today we feature Carissa Brugman, a junior majoring in biotechnology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

What should we know about you?
I am currently working in Dr. Deb Brown's lab at UNL for the summer at the Nebraska Center for Virology. We are studying immune responses to influenza A virus using mouse models. By looking at CD4 T cell responses to viral infection, we look to provide a vaccine outline to fight against highly pathogenic and emerging influenza virus strains. I really enjoy it, and I am learning a ton!

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Who influenced your interest in science?
After watching my mom work as a physician assistant while growing up, I soon developed a desire to become someone who helps others through my work. I have always admired my mother and her colleagues as they continuously work their hardest for the better of our community, and I knew I wanted to do something to contribute. It wasn't until college that I considered research as a career opportunity. As Dr. Tapprich of UNO pointed out to me, doctors may save hundreds of lives throughout their careers, but researchers can save thousands to millions.

What about science excites you?
The idea of researching, discovering and working hard is exciting to me. I find research fascinating and could see myself looking forward to what every day's work could bring. The thought of contributing to something that could change or even save the lives of many is definitely something that I am passionate about. Ultimately, my goal is to help and seriously impact the most people that I can, and I know I can achieve this goal through science.

Will you pursue a career in science?
Currently, my post-graduate decision is yet to be decided. It is difficult to decide now between continuing to medical school to become a family physician or go to grad school, receive a Ph.D., and continue my career in biomedical research.

Why are programs like INBRE important?
The INBRE program gives undergrads an opportunity to explore the science fields in the lab by providing hands-on experience at an undergraduate level. The INBRE program sets up the students to be successful in graduate school, medical school, industry or any other possibilities.

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