Emma Carlson ’20 has been awarded a Fulbright study award to the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, where she’ll be enrolled in the world's only MSc program in Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
During the research component of the master’s program at the University of Sheffield, Carlson will be researching antibiotic resistance in strains such as S. aureus, or MRSA, and other bacteria.
“Microbiology, especially the subfield of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), has been at the forefront of my academic interests and the driving force behind my pursuit of an M.D./Ph.D.,” she says. “AMR, or the superbug, has become an alarming problem because bacteria have evolved faster than medicine has adapted thus far, leaving doctors lacking efficient treatment options for patients with life-threatening infections. The past seven years of my education, including coursework in advanced chemistry and microbiology through my molecular biology major, and research experiences including investigating epigenetic regulation, have inspired me to be part of the solution.”
The program she has been accepted to is a Master of Science utilizing cutting-edge scientific technology combined with a multi-disciplinary approach. It is designed to investigate antibiotic processes and resistance to those mechanisms/processes in emerging strains. The program offers nine months of coursework coinciding with six months of research.
Carlson’s research within the program will focus on antibiotics known to inhibit treatment options for AMR that currently remain elusive.
Carlson notes that a large part of her family immigrated from England and says, “that aspect of the grant is also really exciting; I feel like I already have a connection to the place and people who live there.”
Carlson conducted research every summer since her freshman year in high school to eventually pursue this kind of research, she says. She worked closely with Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology Jennifer Garcia researching gene silencing in S. pombe for two summers at Colorado College.
“It was during this time that I completed an honorary thesis and presented my work. This experience was critical to solidifying research principles and fundamental knowledge while challenging myself. Ever since I was 13, I have been pursuing research, but I have always been most interested in studying microbiology in a clinical setting,” she says.
She also took a microbiology course with Associate Professor of Microbiology Phoebe Lostroh, which Carlson says was one of her favorite courses at CC.
While at Colorado College, she also was involved with service work and completed the EMT training while volunteering at Colorado Springs’ Penrose Hospital. At Sheffield she plans to continue her community engagement by volunteering at the Sheffield Research Hospital. “As a clinical researcher, it’s important to understand the dynamics of healthcare, which are impacted by cultural customs. I have volunteered at local hospitals in Colorado to engage with individuals and understand other health field perspectives. At Sheffield’s hospital, I hope to gain deeper insight into healthcare by comparing US and UK systems, broadening my perspective, and providing an exchange of practices and ideas.”
Carlson, who was active in music performance while at CC, is trained in classical singing, opera, and musical theater, and is excited to participate in public performances and programs at the University of Sheffield.
“I look forward to sharing the unique American performance styles of Kander, Ames, and others I have studied during my collegiate years while learning to master the highly stylized Old English arias where they originated and are practiced in their original form,” she says.
“It’s been a dream of mine since high school to be able to study antibiotic resistance, and to be able to start right after college and before completing an M.D./Ph.D. is really exciting,” says Carlson. “I hope these studies will reinforce skills I learn in the dual degree program and allow me to start making a difference in the clinical research field early on.”
Carlson hopes to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. following completion of the Master of Science at Sheffield University.