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Marissa Baker-Wagner

From: San Francisco, California
Favorite Classes: New Ways of Knowing, Unnatural Causes
Faculty committee co-chairs:
biology professor Lynn Miller, and public health professor Elizabeth Conlisk.

Marissa Baker-Wagner

Explore Your Passions

For her Division III (senior thesis), Marissa Baker-Wagner conducted research to identify pathways by which the dengue virus assembles the capsid protein. The World Health Organization estimates that 50 million people each year may be infected with the dengue virus, which causes dengue fever, a mosquito-borne illness prevalent in the tropics.

Her work is part of a research project by Prosetta, a biotech lab in her hometown of San Francisco, where she began interning the summer after graduation from high school.

Baker-Wagner and Div II student Usha Lingappa, who was working on a similar project involving rabies, proposed an innovative bicoastal Prosetta-Hampshire lab partnership, continuing research begun in San Francisco on campus as part of their academic work. 

They found an enthusiastic supporter in Hampshire biology professor Lynn Miller.

Create New Knowledge

Both students presented posters at the 23rd annual International Conference on Anti-Viral Research, held in San Francisco in April 2010. They were the only two undergraduates participating in a professional conference of hundreds of representatives of pharmaceutical and biotechnical companies, governmental and academic labs.

The laboratory work is only half of Baker-Wagner’s Div III, which also involves critical examination of the economic and social determinants of health. “Dengue is a neglected tropical disease that affects primarily poor people,” she says.

“The first day back on campus we ran to Lynn asking ‘Can we do this?’ We had strong support on both sides to try and establish a lab here.”

In addition to her Hampshire degree, Baker-Wagner received a Certificate from the Five College Culture, Health, and Science Program.

Success After Hampshire

Baker-Wagner has applied to the Peace Corps, and has been nominated for service in Sub-Saharan Africa in fall 2010. 

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