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Harvard Beckons

For the second consecutive year, a student in Professor Kelly Doran's microbiology lab has been accepted to Harvard University.
Professor Kelly Doran and Erin Fletcher in the Doran Lab. Photo: Natalia Van Stralen
Professor Kelly Doran and Erin Fletcher in the Doran Lab. Photo: Natalia Van Stralen

Erin Fletcher, who graduates in May, will join 2012 SDSU graduate Ellese Carmona as a candidate in Harvard's biological and biomedical sciences Ph.D. program. Both Aztecs were members of Kelly Doran's microbiology lab.

Doran said Fletcher and Carmona “contributed significantly” to research projects in her lab, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB).

Disease prevention

Undergraduate and graduate students in Doran’s lab study bacterial pathogens associated with human disease. They examine host-pathogen interactions in the central nervous system and the female reproductive tract, as well as in the development of cancer. The end goal, Doran said, is to develop novel therapeutics for disease prevention.

“Professor Doran guides the students in her lab, but also gives us the independence to interpret data and think for ourselves,” Fletcher said. “Working here has built up my confidence. I know I am prepared for a rigorous Ph.D. program.”

Multiple awards

Recent members of Doran’s research team—including Carmona and Fletcher—have published 14 papers in respected peer-reviewed journals over the last three years.

At the 2012 SDSU Student Research Symposium (SRS), two of Doran’s students (including Carmona) won President’s Awards for best oral presentation; two won Provost’s Awards for best poster presentation and Fletcher was honored for best undergraduate oral presentation. The Doran Lab performed well again in this year’s SRS, taking two President’s Awards.

For three consecutive years, Doran’s students have also excelled in competition at the Southern California American Society for Microbiology (ASM) annual meeting, which has supported their travel to the national ASM meeting to present their research.

Quest for the Best

Fletcher—and Doran as her mentor—are also among the winners of the 2013 Quest for the Best competition. The award honors SDSU’s most outstanding students and the faculty or staff members who have contributed significantly to their personal growth.

Asked about her role in the students’ success, Doran was modest.

“The students deserve the credit.  They worked hard.  They sought out and took advantage of opportunities.  I just provided support in an environment where they could learn and reach their full potential.”

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