Meet Our Researchers: Margaret Alexander

Name: Maggie Alexander

Hometown: Portland, OR

Research Overview

Her postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco, with Dr. Peter Turnbaugh, focused on understanding how autoimmune-related microbiota members influence immune responses in autoimmunity.

Dr. Alexander’s current research is focused on understanding the mechanistic interactions between diet, the microbiota, and immune responses and the functional consequences of these interactions for autoimmunity. For her research, she has been awarded T32, F32, and K99/R00 fellowships.

What inspired you to select your field of study?

There’s a hidden world and it’s inside of us! It’s fascinating to think about how our daily choices of what we eat have rippling effects on the microbes that naturally colonize our gastrointestinal tract who are really just surviving on the scraps of our diets. Our choice of food could lead to a booming expansion of some microbes, a massive casualty for others, or a dramatic shift in the metabolism which then profoundly influences our own immune responses. A routine part of our days can lead to empire changes in our guts without us as the wiser.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students?

Find a place where you feel happy and fulfilled. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to fail – one of the best parts about science is that “failures” sometimes lead to the most interesting discoveries!

When you’re not in the lab, how do you spend your time?

I love swimming and water polo! I have also been dabbling in ceramics to varying degrees of success.

What is the best meal you’ve ever had?

Shakshuka in Spain

You have to sing karaoke, what song do you pick?

Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks – The National

Have you ever completed anything on your “bucket list”? If so, what was it?

I got to go to the Galapagos with my family this past year! Ask me about some of the close marine mammal encounters stories.

What is the last TV show that you binge-watched?