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Dr. Emma Bueren

PHD FELLOW ALUMNI    |   Global Change Center

VT Alumni May 2024,  Biological Sciences  

Advisor: Dr. Lisa Belden


Dr. Emma Bueren successfully defened in April 2024. While at Virginia Tech Emma was a graduate student with Dr. Lisa Belden in the Department of Biological Sciences. She researched the interactions between pathogens and the honey bee microbiome through the lens of disease ecology. This field explores how factors ranging from climate to host immunity impact the spread and severity of infectious diseases.

As an undergraduate, Emma attended the University of Washington and explored several subdisciplines of biology as an undergraduate researcher. She learned how to preserve bird specimens using scientific taxidermy, helped develop a pre-clinical model to study viral-mediated gene therapy to treat atherosclerosis, and investigated the pathogenesis of the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes.

Emma graduated with a B.S. in microbiology and a B.A. in English. She also developed a passion for science communication, writing for the school newspaper and later serving as the paper’s science editor. After graduating, she spent the summer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) as a science communication intern. At MBARI, Emma realized she could unite her love of the natural world with her interest in infectious diseases, particularly as human activity increasingly disrupts the environment. Her experience inspired her to begin working as a molecular biology technician at the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center (WFRC) with Eveline Emmenegger, studying aquatic animal health.

At the WFRC, she expanded her interest in how diseases impact wildlife and agricultural systems. She investigated the host ranges of aquatic rhabdoviruses in fish and amphibians, as well as the susceptibility of the invasive African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) to endemic viruses in Washington state. Her research deepened her understanding of the interconnectedness of disease and ecological systems and inspired her to continue exploring how pathogens interact with other factors such as the host microbiome, co-infecting pathogens, and multiple disease reservoirs.

Emma was excited to join the IGC to broaden her understanding of the ecological changes caused by human activity, and in particular, how those changes can contribute to infectious disease outbreaks. She enjoyed continuing to build her science communication skills, and learning more about how science can inform policy.

Last updated May 2024.