Vibrio cholerae bacteria

Scanning electron microscope image of Vibrio cholerae bacteria, which infect the digestive system. (Wikinews)

"I think it's been really eye-opening and enlightening to have that different," said Hannah Aken at Idaho State University.

As a first-generation college student, she didn't expect the experience to be so vast, but in her journey of microbiology, she's been able to study one pesky pathogen called streptococcus pneumoniae.

"That bacteria typically causes as you know pneumonia and like ear infections, things like that, but it can also cause meningitis," said Aken.

Which can be detrimental to children, elderly and those who are amino-compromised.

In her research, she found it was possible to break down the structural coating of the bacteria, which allows it to hide itself from human immune systems.

"The goal with these is to create different medicinal treatments for pathogenic streptococcus pneumoniae," said Aken.

There are currently vaccines, but according to Aken the vaccines now don't cover all strains of the pathogen.

"So our research is identifying different locations or pathways within this bacteria to find a new target for these medicinal treatments," said Aken.

Aken said she believes this work is important because it takes steps forward in how we as people look out for each other.

"Being considerate of other people and the things that are going on in the world is really important for individuals in order to better themselves but also to better the environment around them to help the people around them as well," said Aken.

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