Alexa M. Salsbury
Alexa is Chair of Scientific Communication
Alexa M. Salsbury
I am a first-year graduate student in Virginia Tech’s Biochemistry PhD Program where I perform Computational Biochemistry research. Before coming to Tech, I studied Biochemistry, Psychology, and played volleyball at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI. I have many hobbies including biking, hiking, cuddling my pets, listening to music, and playing or following athletics. Furthermore, as a first-generation college student (FGCS), I am passionate about engaging individuals in disadvantaged situations to encourage and support paths towards higher education.
I grew up in a rural low-income area of Northwest Ohio, where poverty was prevalent and educational opportunities were scarce. Fortunately, I had ample emotional support growing up; however, education was not a priority in our community. This culture, and being a FGCS, posed several economic and educational challenges in my pursuit of higher learning. Such challenges taught me to be resilient, independent, and competitive, leading me to participate in organize sports and utilize athletics as an opportunity to attend college. As mentioned above, I attended Eastern Michigan University and after graduation moved to Blacksburg, VA to begin a PhD program in Biochemistry.
My experiences helped me realize that several resources are available to support FGCSs at the undergraduate level that are not readily available at the graduate level. Organizational support and encouragement can greatly reduce the stress of being a FGCS because a primary challenge of being a FGCS is limited mentorship and support. As an undergraduate student, I was regularly encouraged by other FGCSs. However, FGCSs are harder to come by in graduate school and throughout my first year, I have struggled to find an adequate support system. As a result, I have experienced additional stress and an overall lack of confidence. These experiences motivate me to create more open dialogue about FGCSs at the graduate level and be a resource to individuals in similar situations. I am passionate about scientific research, promoting higher education, and academic mentorship so I look forward to making new connections through Limper Science.
I am a graduate researcher at Virginia Tech studying Guanine-quadruplex (GQ) structures via molecular dynamics (MD). MD is a computer simulation method employed to provide insight into molecular properties and assemblies of healthy and diseased molecules in complex biological environments. The work performed in our lab is considered to be theoretical and fundamental science, but provides essential information for novel therapeutic development and the elucidation of disease mechanisms. Such research contributes to quality of health and can have lasting impacts on science and health. This, the potential influence of our work, motivates me to be an efficient researcher and advocate for scientific research opportunities. Through graduate education, I plan to expand my knowledge of biochemistry, biophysics, computational biochemistry, computer aided drug design and sharpen my presentation, writing, and academic mentoring skills. Joining Limper Science will provide a framework for cross-sector collaboration, mentorship, and support that can allow me to become better researcher, professional, and mentor.
As mentioned above, I believe a large problem FGCSs face is a lack of adequate support systems. Many FGCSs work through their academic career without a personal role model and struggle to connect with peers and/or find guidance in difficult situations. Without relatable role models and foundational support, small setbacks can feel enormous, leading to a lack of confidence. This can be discouraging and impede success. Therefore, creating a network between FGCSs and establishing supportive, academic relationships can be positive for all individuals involved. With that being said, please feel free to reach out to me at any time!