Anna Brogan, a graduating senior at Penn State majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, has been named a 2020 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow. The program recognizes and supports outstanding students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who plan to, or are currently pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.
Brogan’s research, conducted under the guidance of Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Kenneth Keiler, involves determining the mode of action of a specific class of antimicrobial inhibitors, which exhibit broad-spectrum activity against bacterial pathogens. The characterization of these inhibitors is essential to the development of new antibiotics that can be used against antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Antibiotic resistance threatens global health because some infections can no longer be treated with existing drugs. Treatment of these resistant pathogens requires the creation of new antibiotics.
Brogan has characterized the growth inhibition profiles of certain compounds, showing their ability to inhibit a specific protease, ClpXP, in bacterial cells. She found these antimicrobial compounds could potentially be developed into drugs to treat deadly pathogens such as the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. Brogan believes these inhibitors could also be used to probe the physiology of bacterial cells.
After graduation Brogan plans to attend Harvard University to pursue her PhD in Biological and Biomedical Sciences. After pursuing her PhD, Brogan plans to head her own research group, within academia or industry, where she will focus on fundamental questions within microbiology. She hopes that teaching, and mentoring, will also be a large part of her rapidly progressing career.
About the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program
Since 1952 the NSF has named over 50,000 Graduate Research Fellows, each achieving high levels of success in their academic and professional careers. Past Program Fellows include Nobel Prize winners such as U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, Google founder, Sergey Brin, and Freakonomics co-author, Steven Levitt. Those selected as NSF Graduate Research Fellows receive a three-year annual stipend along with a cost-of-education allowance for tuition and fees. Additionally, they benefit from opportunities for international research and professional development.