Karen Juliana Gonzalez Restrepo

University of Georgia

Karen J. Gonzalez, originally from Quindío, Colombia, is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate working in vaccine development at the Institute of Bioinformatics, University of Georgia. Karen's graduate research aims to create computational strategies that can accelerate human vaccine design. Currently working on COVID-19, influenza, and other life-threatening respiratory diseases, her study will potentially impact the lives of millions of people worldwide. Several experts in the field have recognized the importance of Karen's work by granting her an honorable mention at the Protein Society 2022 international symposium and a poster winner award at the Rosetta Commons 2022 meeting.

Karen's desire to prevent severe illnesses has been evident since the earliest stages of her educational training. During her B.Sc. in chemistry at the University of Quindío, her research focused on discovering new treatments for toxoplasmosis, a common infection affecting 200 thousand people every year in the United States. This work granted Karen a basic research award by the Colombian Association of Infectious Diseases.

Karen recognizes that several people have helped her to thrive in her academic journey. Therefore, to return a little of what she has received, she gives volunteering talks to young Colombian scholars to encourage them to pursue higher education degrees.