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Name: Joanna Colovas

Major: Microbiology

Minor: Global Public Health & Epidemiology 

Hometown: Northville, MI


Joanna, you’re a sophomore this year and have declared a major. How did you choose your major, and what do you like about it? 

Originally, I just knew I wanted to go into biology. Then for a while, I was really set on cellular and molecular biology, and then I went through a stint on genetics— but I eventually decided what I actually liked doing was growing bacteria. I settled on microbiology, which is basically the study of bacteria and other small things. I really like the opportunities to help people that can come from microbiology. Once you have identified bacteria, you can find ways to kill them, aid in disease diagnosis, and enhance plant growth productivity. I work in a microbiology lab, and I find microbes super interesting. Ask my friends— I could talk about microbes for 80 years! 

Tell me more about your research. What do you find interesting about it? 

I love doing research. I work in a microbiology lab that investigates the effect of microbial communities on plants, and last year, I got to work on a project that looked at apple replant disease and what microbial interactions help and harm apple tree productivity in the state of Michigan. Over the summer, I worked in a lab that investigated the effect of bowel prep on Clostriduium difficile infections. I find research interesting because you never know what’s going to turn up. Science takes a while and can be frustrating, but when you get one PCR that’s beautiful, it’s all worth it. 

That’s really interesting! What are some of the other things you are involved in on campus? 

I’m on the MSU club figure skating team, and I’m the secretary of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship. I’m also in Briggs Ambassadors, which is a club that actively recruits Lyman Briggs students, and I’m in HSTAR which recruits honors students. 

What has been your favorite thing about MSU so far? 

I really love the people at MSU. That’s what made the difference for me of which university to go to. The students are friendly, and the faculty here is so willing to help you with any problems you might have. Everyone is so welcoming. I met a State alumnus when I was working at the University of Michigan over the summer, and she was the most welcoming person to me because we were both Spartans. 

What do you want to do after graduation? 

I want to work in infectious disease research. I enjoy working with microbes and I’d like to keep continuing with that. A lot of infectious diseases involve microbes, and with my background in public health for my minor in Global Public Health and Epidemiology, I want to look at how these microbes spread and how they affect communities. If we work on it from both the public health and the medical aspects, we’ll be able to find something that works faster to cure a disease or at least to stop the major spread and impacts of it. 

What are some pieces of advice that you would give to your fellow Spartans? 

I’d say find your people. There are 50,000 people on this campus— odds are, you’ll like some of them. You’ll find people with similar morals, interests, and values— and those are the ones you want to be friends with. 

Never say no to a dairy store trip— that’s specifically a Joanna piece of advice. There’s always enough hours in the day for a dairy store trip. Even if you’re studying for 6 exams, you always need a break, and you need that oxygen flowing to your brain. The dairy store is like 10 minutes away from anywhere on campus. 

Oh— Send your friends physical mail. Because who doesn’t love getting mail? 

Lastly, call your mom. Call your dad. Call whoever. They miss you. Chances are if you miss them, they miss you. 

Anything else you want to share? 

Go Green!

Ananya is the President of Her Campus at Michigan State. She is majoring in Human Biology and minoring in Health Promotion, and post-graduation, she will be attending medical school! If she's not studying, you can find her watching TikToks or Grey's Anatomy!
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