Q and A with 3MT Winner Gabrielle Delima

We caught up with Gabrielle Delima, winner of the 2022 3MT competition.

Gabrielle Delima is a 5th year Ph.D. candidate in the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics program and the winner of the 2022 3MT competition.  Learn more about her research, how she arrived at the topic, and what drew her to Laney Graduate School below

Q: What drew you to the Laney Graduate School? 

I was initially drawn to Laney’s Microbiology & Molecular Genetics program for their distinguished faculty, which has many research areas that aligned with my own interests. However, what really sealed the deal for me was the environment. I could tell that collaborations were the norm and encouraged here. Every faculty member is invested in helping graduate students grow and learn, regardless of what lab they joined. It’s an environment where you have plenty of people to support you. 

Q: Can you tell us about your research in 100 words or less?

My research focuses on the outcomes of influenza A virus (IAV) interactions when they co-infect the same cell. Specifically, whether the presence of one IAV strain can increase the replication of another IAV strain, during co-infection. Additionally, there are a variety of IAV strains that differ between host-adaptation (the animal they infect) and fitness (how well they replicate in that animal).

My research tested whether host-adaptation or fitness of co-infecting IAV strains are important factors for increasing the replication of another IAV strain. We found that high fitness IAVs could help increase the replication of a low fitness IAV. 

Q: How did you arrive at this interest/research topic?

I’ve always been interested in the interconnectedness of people and animals. While many think that what happens in animals is completely separate from us, zoonotic viruses like influenza, that can transmit between animals and humans, make animal disease relevant to human disease. By researching how different animal-adapted IAVs can help each other during co-infection, we gain a better understanding of how zoonotic and pandemic IAVs can emerge. 

Q: What made you decide to participate in this competition?

I decided to participate in Emory’s 3-Minute Thesis competition, because I think it’s important for us scientists to learn how to talk about our research in a way that’s accessible to everyone. We’re often taught how to communicate with other scientists when we present or write papers, but not the average person that the outcomes of our research may also affect. I wanted to improve my ability to talk about science with with anyone that it may impact, which is everyone!