Vanessa Meza-Perez's interest in infectious diseases was sparked after taking an immunology course during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fascinated to learn how pathogens infect humans, Meza-Perez's curiosity directed her toward microbiology research.
Meza-Perez began her research during her last year at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. As a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s REU grant, she worked with Dr. Boo Shan Tseng to investigate envelope stress responses in the opportunistic bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. With funding from the NSF EPSCoR grant and the UNLV Office of Undergraduate Research, Meza-Perez continued working with Dr. Tseng to complete a year-long honors thesis. During this time, she investigated the effect of Pseudomonas aeruginosa non-mucoid reversion on antibiotic susceptibility. In May 2022, Meza-Perez successfully defended her undergraduate thesis, received her Bachelor of Science in biological sciences and graduated Summa cum laude as a first-generation Latina.
After graduating, Meza-Perez decided to pursue a PhD to help develop more cures for infections. In addition to her academic goals, she wants to continue her community outreach efforts and serve as a mentor to other underrepresented minority students in STEMM. The outstanding resources, supportive research community and emphasis on childhood diseases sealed Meza-Perez's decision to join the St. Jude Biomedical Sciences PhD program. Though she proudly calls herself a “bacteriologist,” she is excited to learn more about other types of pathogens.
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV