Boston Latin School
Boston, MA

Angela Early and Emily LaVerriere
Infectious Disease and Microbiome Program

“I wouldn’t say that there is one particular moment that I became interested in science—rather, there’s been an innate curiosity for the field that has only grown over time,” said Alex. His curiosity propelled him through the summer, where he spent most of his time investigating whether individuals in the country of Mali develop sterile immunity to some specific malaria parasites but not to others. In particular, Alex analyzed allele frequency variants of two malaria parasite genes, CSP and SERA2, that are recognized by the human immune system. Working with his partner Breetika, Alex found that most of the variants that he analyzed occurred rarely, suggesting that natural selection was pushing microevolution of these genes towards new allele combinations that could hide from the human immune system’s full response. “Going into this program, I was not particularly interested in malaria,” said Alex about his project. “However, after contributing to malaria research myself, I have fallen completely in love with all things malaria, and have learned to keep an open mind when it comes to picking a scientific research topic.” When asked about his summer experience, Alex said "through the BSSP program, I have met so many unique scientists, and learning about their different career trajectories has been inspiring. The researchers at the Broad are very passionate about their work, and they have all been incredibly patient, resourceful, and kind during my time here."