“It was when we saw diffraction spots at high resolution for the first time! I spent a year setting up about one hundred crystallization trials and subsequently screening hundreds of beautiful crystals with not much success. It was very emotionally taxing to be sleep-deprived (most of our synchrotron times were during the night) and have your precious crystals diffract poorly. While I understood spending a year attempting to perform X-ray crystallography is not much time, as a starting graduate student, I couldn’t help but feel that I was a failed crystallographer. That one crystal ended up being all I needed, and the structure, along with the biochemistry, seemed to fall into place. We collected the X-ray data in October 2018 and wrote the paper in 3 months.”
In her review, Ha An summarizes the major findings of the Metelev et al. paper and emphasizes the value of genome mining in the discovery of new antimicrobials. “We previously thought we had beaten bacterial infections with ‘miracle drugs’ but if you look at the numbers from the CDC, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections in the United States alone,” Ha An says. “Techniques such as genome mining used in this paper can help sift through tons of sequencing data and can lead us to places we would have never thought of to look.”
Beyond its scientific contributions to the field, this manuscript held particular value to Ha An. “As a novice scientist, this paper on klebsazolicin provides a nice story of a scientific study that walks through the project from conception in silico and into the laboratory for mechanistic and structural investigation,” she says. “It also let me dip my toes into making figures of ribosomes structures, which I am hoping to do a lot of during my time in the Dunham lab to tease out the details of bacterial translation with atomic-level resolution.”
Ha An Nguyen comes to Emory from the University of Richmond. Originally, she intended to study engineering in college, but sitting in on a philosophy class during a campus visit convinced her that she would benefit from a liberal arts education. Beyond Emory’s liberal arts mission, Ha An was drawn to Emory because of our research strengths and our close-knit community. She says: “I would like to do exciting, interdisciplinary research that will let me learn and master various laboratory techniques and gain a deep understanding of the chemistry behind a cellular process.”
Division of Interest: Biomolecular
What makes Ha An Unique: I was born in India and grew up in Turkey, Vietnam and Pakistan. And I really, really love food!
What Ha An is Most Looking Forward to at Emory: Everything!