USF researcher named ‘Brilliant Ten’
Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 01:09
“With our new approach, we can figure out what types of viruses are most abundant in sewage, sequence that and then use that as an indicator,” Breitbart said. “This is something we can now go after when determining should this beach be closed down today.”
She also said the real world application of metagenomics doesn’t just apply to oceanography. Breitbart said it could also be useful in the medical field.
“If you went to the doctor and you have a viral infection, they would normally have to test you for a single virus at a time with a series of tests to figure out what it is,” she said. “With this kind of methodology, you could figure out what viruses are present in a single sample. You can see where that would be helpful.”
While out on research projects, Breitbart dabbles in professional photography that she brings back to USF. Her work is currently being displayed on the St. Petersburg campus.
“One of the perks of being a professor is that I get to travel a lot for my research and I get to go to a lot of interesting locations,” she said. “I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of underwater photography and nature photography that allows people to see the natural world.”
For Breitbart, this is a way to reach out to the younger generation, particularly young women, in order to influence them to become interested in the sciences.
“Especially being a female in science, I really want to be a role model for young girls who are thinking about pursuing scientific careers,” she said.
Eventually, Breitbart said she hopes her research will allow science and medicine to move beyond a reactionary context where human or economic loss has occurred before viruses can be detected. That, she said, would be revolutionary.
“Right now we don’t know everything that’s out there, so we are very reactive,” she said. “If we could figure out what’s there ahead of time, it lets you take all these important measure that could actually help you save not only time, but lives.”