June 18, 2018

GHI Student Fellow Grant Rosensteel Presents Research on Influenza Dynamics at the NetSci Conference in Paris

Grant Rosensteel (C’19), a rising senior majoring in biology of global health and a Global Health Initiative fellow, studies influenza dynamics using computational biology with Dr. Shweta Bansal, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology. On June 12, he presented his research at the NetSci Conference in Paris, France, which brings together leading researchers and practitioners working in the emerging area of network science.

Tell us about your experience as a research assistant in the Department of Biology’s Bansal Lab and as a Global Health Initiative fellow. What inspired you to research influenza dynamics?

Being a research assistant has been the defining activity of my undergraduate career; it has been a truly amazing experience and one that has allowed me to grow as a person and as a scientist. There is something special about working on a project that is yours and knowing that you are the only person in the world doing it. I am a firm believer that we are supposed to give more than we take and leave the world a better place than when we entered it. I believe that by doing research that can transform how we think about influenza policy, I am helping to accomplish just that.

I have always been fascinated by pathogens and outbreaks of diseases—they are an existential threat to humanity and we still do not quite understand how they operate. The unknown coupled with the threat that they pose is why I was drawn to studying disease in general. As for influenza, it is widely known as the most dangerous pathogen, and I jumped at the opportunity to study its patterns and processes when I learned that the Bansal Lab did a lot of work with influenza.

What led you to submit an abstract to the Integration of Empirical Data in Network Epidemiology Symposium? Tell us about your experience at the NetSci Conference.

I submitted my research to the Integration of Empirical Data in Network Epidemiology Symposium because I wanted to share the work that I have been doing with the wider scientific community and gain experience presenting my work. Doing research is the easy part of science; communicating your findings to others in a way that is understandable and informative is much more difficult. After working on my project for about a year now, I thought that naturally the next step would be to work on the communication aspect of my research. I chose this specific symposium because the topic of my project fit well with the theme of the symposium, and they encouraged young scientists to submit their work.

The NetSci conference was a wonderful experience, and I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to attend and sit side by side with scientists from across the world. Participating in this conference allowed me to gain insight into topics that I never would have otherwise come across, and to meet potential collaborators. Seeing the diverse set of research projects being conducted in the field of network epidemiology made me hopeful for our future fight against infectious disease because it seemed like we are making a lot of progress against disease transmission risk.

What activities are you involved with on campus?

On campus, my time is mostly spent in the lab doing research, but beyond that I am a consultant for Innovo Consulting where I work with a variety of startups and nonprofits, especially those with a health or science focus. I am a member of the Corp’s philanthropy committee, where I work with a team of undergraduates to disperse grants to the Georgetown community, and I have previously written healthcare policy for the Roosevelt Institute. In my free time I like to explore D.C.’s amazing food scene and do outdoor activities.

What is your favorite part about being at Georgetown?

Quite frankly, I love everything about Georgetown, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to study here. My favorite part of Georgetown is the transformative power that it has had on my life. It has helped me find myself, my passions, my likes and dislikes, my friends, and my future. Georgetown is an amazing and very unique place; its international focus and its location in the heart of global decision-making make it a great place to learn about the world and then apply what you have learned to solve real-world problems.

Tell us about your educational and professional aspirations.

After graduating Georgetown, I would like to pursue a graduate degree in epidemiology and disease control because in the future, I see myself being a disease detective, otherwise known as an epidemiologist. I want to be on the front lines working to contain and prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases. Specifically, I am interested in emerging and reemerging pathogens—those that we do not know much (if anything) about and that pose the gravest threat to global health. It’s not a question of if another pandemic occurs but rather when the next one will occur, and I want to be one of the people that use the best cutting-edge technologies and an interdisciplinary skill set to mitigate the effects of the next one.