Jingjun Lu, a native of China who studied biology in her home country, always found the science of animals interesting. It wasn't until she became a doctoral student at Mississippi State that she discovered just how interesting the fish-pathogen interaction can be.
Lu came to the United States in 2005 with her husband who was doing post-doctoral work. She had already earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in biology from Tianjin Normal University.
When the couple came to MSU, Dr. Attila Karsi gave her the opportunity to work on a research project in search of a new vaccine to protect catfish from the bacteria Edwardsiella ictaluri. The pathogen causes a very serious disease in catfish, which is one of the state's most important industries.
Lu explained that the research involves bacterial gene deletions in hopes of developing an effective live attenuated vaccine. She said the work under Karsi has resulted in some potential vaccine candidates, which will be put to the test in fish trials.
A veterinary medical sciences student, Lu expects to earn her doctorate in December.
"I am lucky. Always, I think I am lucky," she said, explaining her appreciation of the opportunity to work toward her degree, while balancing family responsibilities with her research work.
Lu said her work has led only to an increase in her interest in fish health. She would like to continue studying the pathogens that cause problems in fish. A new vaccine would not only represent an advancement for science, but it could have great economic implications for the catfish industry.