Dr. Gunn completed her PhD at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in the laboratory of Mark Heise, PhD. Her thesis work focused on identifying both viral and host factors in the disease pathogenesis of the alphavirus, Ross River Virus, and demonstrated a role for viral glycosylation in disease pathogenesis. Dr. Gunn went on to do her post-doctoral fellowship at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard in Cambridge, MA in the laboratory of Galit Alter PhD, where she studied how antibodies use innate immune cells to provide protection against Ebola virus infection.
I joined the faculty at the Paul G. Allen School of Global Animal Health as an assistant professor in February 2020.
I am originally from northern Australia but have lived most my life in the US. Having survived a malaria infection as a small child while traveling in Papua New Guinea, I’ve always been motivated to help develop vaccines and therapeutics against infectious diseases. I began my research career as a high school student in New York City dissecting mosquito salivary glands to isolate malaria parasites at New York University. It was fascinating for me as a young student to be in a lab, so I continued lab work as an undergraduate at Washington University in St. Louis, working with Dr. Roy Curtiss III on developing recombinant attenuated Salmonella vaccines. I moved on to studying viruses for my PhD and worked on understanding how Ross River Virus, a mosquito-borne alphavirus present in Australia, causes disease. We found that much of the arthritis and muscle damage associated with infection was actually caused by the innate immune system, highlighting the critical need for the immune system to balance protection and pathology.
Figuring that I needed to learn a lot more about the immune system, I began studying antibodies with Dr. Galit Alter as a post-doctoral fellow. I studied how antibodies interact with and activate innate immune cells to protect against viral infection and became really interested in the breadth of antibody functions and the ability of antibodies to orchestrate antiviral immunity in multiple ways.
Outside of lab, I like to spend my time birding with my husband, which brings us to beautiful and unexpected places. When not out exploring, I enjoy being at home testing recipes and spoiling my cat Squiggles.
2000-2004 BA; Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis MO USA
2007-2013 PhD; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill NC USA
2013-2019 Post-doctoral fellow; Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard University, Cambridge MA USA