Abram Bernard, College of Science PDRF

Abram Bernard, a PhD student in the Biochemistry department, studies a bacterium called Shigella that causes a severe type of dysentery. He describes the bacteria having protein structures shaped like a needle that pierces a host cell and inserts itself inside thus high jacking the cell’s processes and escaping the immune response. Other pathogens like E Coli, Salmonella, and the Black Plague all use a system similar to Shigella which makes this research very important because several of the strains have become resistant to antibiotics. Abram spends most of his time studying the proteins at the tip of the needle like structure and how they find things outside the bacteria. 

Through this project, Abram hopes to find a way to fight the disease that the bacteria cause without the use of antibiotics. Often the bacteria are found in places without clean water and little resources. The research that Abram is doing could improve health in communities of poverty.  

Originally interested in chemistry and forensic science, Abram received his undergraduate degree from Weber State University in chemistry. Though Abram spends a lot of his time doing research he says he hopes to move his career more towards teaching. “I don’t think people should hate math and science as much as they do,” says Abram. He hopes, someday, to be able to help students understand and enjoy the sciences and develop research on more effective teaching methods.  

Abram has had experience teaching Chemistry 1010, has been a TA and conducts lab classes. He feels like he can explain concepts to other people easily because of the way he understands science. His experience in the research has taught him about the processes that scientists take to test theories and this will help him later in teaching students about research processes.  

Originally from Salt Lake City, Abram came to USU because of the opportunity of becoming a PDRF. He says that is a cool way to be involved in the graduate program. He hopes to finish his degree next year. 

Outside of school and research, he enjoys cooking, playing games and spending time with his daughter.  

Writer: Bentlee Rice | Office of Research and Graduate Studies | bentlee.rice@usu.edu