Immunology and Infectious Diseases
Mentor / Lab:
Prof. Richard Kuhn
Specific Research Area / Project:
Rhodes University, South Africa
Lab / Personal work-related websites:Kuhn Lab
My research in the field of virology focuses on human viruses that use mosquitoes for infection. I work on a particular family of these viruses called the Alphaviruses of which Chikungunya virus is the major public health threat. My work is mostly fundamental in nature as I seek to understand the mechanisms by which these viruses make particles within a cell. More specifically I want to understand how an RNA molecule is targeted to sites of replication and then packaged into a virus particle. Furthermore I am collaborating on a project which elucidates what types of RNAs are incorporated into particles as we have been surprised to learn that they do not always belong to the virus.
Although not directly translational, I see my work as important in understanding the general principles for how viruses are able to take over our cells. I believe the more knowledge that we can garner about how lots of different viruses work, the better we will be placed to tackle new challenges such as Zika or Ebola which are becoming prevalent today.
I am from South Africa originally and was not really aware of Purdue before I came here. I came by way of a Fulbright scholarship which is known to pair students with institutions that they feel most fit. In this case, they got the choice completely right as I consider myself very fortunate to be where I am and doing what I am doing. During my Masters work, I unwittingly read many papers from Purdue, both by my own Professor and others in my department and it felt somewhat serendipitous that I would actually be going to Purdue. My goal is to sponge up as much knowledge as I can from here so that I can impart it back home. I think part of that involves being a dedicated student but also having a social life outside of the lab. Many people have never met a South African and I like that I have changed that for many people here at Purdue. Hopefully that’s not a bad thing.
- Using a bipartite Sindbis virus system to assess the coupling of genome replication and particle assembly. American Society of Virology Meeting, Western University, London, ON, Canada (June 2015)
- RNA packaging by tetravirus particles is mediated by a small, non-structural protein (p17) – A novel mechanism for the packaging of single stranded positive sense viral RNAs. American Society of Virology Meeting, University of Minnesota Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A (18th July 2011).
- "A Small Non-Structural Protein (p17) Mediates Selective Packaging of Tetravirus RNA". South African Society of Microbiology Meeting, Cape Town, South Africa (9 Nov 2011).
- Short J.S., Mendes A, and R.A. Dorrington - "RNA encapsidation and stability of Helicoverpa armigera stunt virus virus-like particles" FASEB SRC on Virus Structure and Assembly, Saxton's River, Vermont, USA (June 2012).
- Dorrington R.A., Matcher G.F., Mendes A., and I. Ansorge. "Temporal shifts in the diversity and population structure of marine microbial diversity: understanding the ecosystem functioning of SubAntarctic island systems. FEMS 2013, Leipzig, Germany (July 2013).
- Biological Sciences Retreat - 2013 Poster presentation
- Pulse Recruitment Visit - 2014 Poster presentation
- Mendes, A., Vlok, M., Short, J.R., Matsui, T. and Dorrington, R.A. 2015. An encapsidated viral protein and its role in RNA packaging by a non-enveloped animal RNA virus. Virology. 476, 323 – 333.
- FP Muirhead and MB Rosenberg Memorial Prize for Microbiology 3 - 2008
- Roche Award for Excellence in Microbiology Honours - 2009
- Henderson Postgraduate Scholarship - 2009/2010
- NRF Masters Prestigious Equity Scholarship - 2010/2011
- Fulbright Scholarship - 2012 – present
- Lynn Fellowship – Purdue currently
- 2016 PULSe Five-Minute Thesis Competition – 1st place award
- Organizing committee – Hitchhikers guide to the protein galaxy, Purdue University mini-symposium. Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. (May 2015)
- Captain of the Purdue University Cricket Club - 2013/2014