Her graduate work on human T cell leukemia virus—supported by an HHMI Gilliam Fellowship at Johns Hopkins University—was interesting, but the virology field is saturated with seasoned researchers. As a young scientist, Van Prooyen wanted to do something new. Far fewer researchers study Histoplasma, which causes an infection called histoplasmosis.
The fungus also appeals to Van Prooyen because it is a real challenge to work with. No one has built genetic libraries or developed the standard tools that other scientists can rely on. Sifting through hundreds of Histoplasma to find interesting mutants is a puzzle Van Prooyen relishes.
Like many postdocs, she’s thrilled to focus her time on science alone—no classroom teaching or lab management to distract her. It’s an opportunity many professors would envy.
Graphics: VSA Partners