Taking on Malaria in a Harvard Lab
Allison Demas ’07 is a scientist who uses her knowledge and skills to fight the scourge that is malaria. She received her doctorate in biological sciences in public health from Harvard and is a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, continuing her research on drug-resistant malaria parasites.
At Hamilton Demas majored in biology and minored in French, which came in handy on her fieldwork in French-speaking West Africa. She spent the year after Hamilton a Fulbright fellow in Senegal on a collaborative team investigating drug resistance in malaria parasites and malaria in pregnant women. The team included the Harvard School of Public Health, and Demas’ fellowship directly shaped her future.
“This year in the field was really eye-opening, and I was hooked on infectious disease work. My projects in Senegal gave me insight into lab research, but I wanted training and perspective on the public health and epidemiology side of thing,” Demas says.
She spent the next two years as a training fellow in emerging infectious disease research in the malaria branch of the Centers for Disease Control. At Harvard, she once again became part of the Senegal collaboration.
Demas says she did her first in-depth, critical reading of the scientific literature at Hamilton, in a senior seminar in molecular genetics, which strongly influenced her decision to pursue more training in molecular biology research.
“Hamilton does a phenomenal job encouraging undergraduate research, both on campus and through programs at other institutions,” Demas says.