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Graduate Student Profile
Kinsley French
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Kinsley French

Hometown: Cherry Plain, New York
Prior Study: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, B.S. Mathematics and Biology
Degree(s) Sought: Ph.D. Biology
Department: Biology
Faculty Advisor: George Makhatadze
Expected year of graduation: 2014

Kinsley has extensive publication, presentation, and teaching/mentoring experience through the Makhatadze laboratory. Her current research focuses on understanding how amyloid fibrils form and how they affect HIV infectivity.  Following graduation and a postdoctoral position, Kinsley intends to pursue basic scientific research as a university professor.

Describe your graduate research and its purpose/applications.

Proteins are biological molecules that are responsible for much of the structure and function in a living organism.  They essentially act as molecular machines, performing functions such as oxygen transport and muscle contraction. If a protein fails to attain a proper structure, it may clump together to form amorphous aggregates or amyloid fibrils.  There is a peptide (small protein) found in semen, which forms amyloid fibrils that increase HIV infectivity by up to five orders of magnitude!  Since this likely plays a role in HIV transmission in vivo, my work focuses on understanding how these amyloid fibrils form. 

What are your hobbies/interests/special talents?

Outside of research, I enjoy sports such as swimming and cross-country running.  I also love to read.  Spending time with family and tutoring (both my siblings and other students) are also very important to me.  My one “odd” hobby is participation in circus arts, such as trapeze, stilts, aerial fabrics, and animal balloons.

Why did you choose to enroll at Rensselaer?

I chose to enroll at Rensselaer due to its fantastic science education program, research, and great reputation.  Rensselaer has given me the opportunity to pursue research in a field that I am very passionate about. 

What are some benefits of being part of the Graduate Community at Rensselaer?

The Graduate Community is very open and there are ample opportunities to discuss research with both faculty and other students.  There are also a variety of clubs and student groups that plan both fun and informational activities on a regular basis. 

What would you tell a prospective student about choosing Rensselaer?

Rensselaer has amazing faculty and research facilities and is really a great stepping stone to your career.  It is also a very well-known school with a great reputation, making it a good choice for graduate education.

List Information about your background and accomplishments in College and Work Experience:  

Publications:

• Aranganathan Shunganathan, Anthony C. Bishop, Kinsley C. French, Scott A. McCallum, & George I. Makhatadze. “Bacterial Expression and Purification of the Amyloidogenic Peptide PAPf39 for Multidimensional NMR Spectroscopy.” (2013) Protein Expression and Purification, 88, 196-200.

Kinsley C. French & George I. Makhatadze. “Core Sequence of PAPf39 Amyloid Fibrils and Mechanism of pH-Dependent Fibril Formation: The Role of Monomer Conformation.” (2012) Biochemistry, 51, 10127-10136.

• Zhuqiu Ye, Kinsley C. French, Ludmila A. Popova, Igor K. Lednev, Maria M. Lopez, & George I. Makhatadze. “Mechanism of fibril formation by a 39-residue peptide (PAPf39) from human prostatic acidic phosphatase.” (2009) Biochemistry, 48, 11582-11591.

Leadership:

• President of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies Post-Doc and Graduate Student Association (2012-2013)

Presentations:

• Kinsley C. French & George I. Makhatadze “Amyloid Fibril Core Sequence of a 39-Residue Peptide (PAPf39) from Human Prostatic Acidic Phosphatase” Poster Presentation at the 2012 Biopolymers Gordon Research Conference. June 2012.

• Kinsley C. French & George I. Makhatadze “Amyloid Fibril Core Sequence of a 39-Residue Peptide from Human Prostatic Acidic Phosphatase” Poster Presentation at the 2011 Proteins Gordon Research Conference. June 2011.

• Kinsley C. French, Zhuqiu Ye, Ludmila A. Popova, Igor K. Lednev, Maria M. Lopez, & George I. Makhatadze. “Mechanism of fibril formation by a 39-residue peptide (PAPf39) from human prostatic acidic phosphatase.” Poster Presentation at the 2010 Biopolymers Gordon Research Conference. June 2010.

• Kinsley C. French & George I. Makhatadze “Core Sequence and pH-Dependent Fibril Formation in PAPf39: A Role for Monomer conformation” Oral Presentation at the 2013 School of Science Graduate Research Symposium at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. April 2013.

• Kinsley C. French & George I. Makhatadze “Core Sequence and pH-Dependent Fibril Formation in PAPf39, A Peptide that Enhances HIV Infectivity” Poster Presentation at the 2012 NIH Training Grant Retreat at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. September 2012.

• Kinsley C. French & George I. Makhatadze “Amyloid Fibril Core Sequence of a 39-Residue Peptide from Human Prostatic Acidic Phosphatase” Poster Presentation at the 2012 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Annual School of Science Symposium Poster Palooza. April 2012.

• Kinsley C. French & George I. Makhatadze “PAPf39 Fibril Formation” Oral Presentation for the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies Post-Doc and Graduate Student Association at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. April 2012.

• Kinsley C. French & George I. Makhatadze “Amyloid Fibril Core Sequence of a 39-Residue Peptide from Human Prostatic Acidic Phosphatase” Poster Presentation at the 2011 NIH Training Grant Retreat at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. September 2011.

• Kinsley C. French, Zhuqiu Ye, Ludmila A. Popova, Igor K. Lednev, Maria M. Lopez, & George I. Makhatadze “Mechanism of fibril formation by a 39-residue peptide (PAPf39) from human prostatic acidic phosphatase.” Oral Presentation at the 1st Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. April 2010.

What are your plans following graduation?

After I finish my Ph.D., I want pursue basic scientific research as a university professor, following a post-doctoral research position.  I would like to continue protein, biochemical, and biophysical research and use my education to have maximal impact on students interested in science.  It is my hope that as a female scientist, I can act as a role model and inspire other young women to enter this field.

Awards/Fellowships:

  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (Awarded in 2011)
  • First Place Poster, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Annual School of Science Symposium Poster Palooza (2012)
  • One of the top three poster presentations at the at NIH Training Grant Retreat at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2011)
  • J. Erik Jonsson Prize for the highest undergraduate academic record in the Rensselaer class of 2011



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