Jessica Jackson, who is pursuing a master’s degree in molecular microbiology, has received an award for her research into a deadly bacterial toxin at the annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students held in November in San Jose.
Jackson received the Scientific Discipline Award, which honors not only excellence in research, but the ability to present that research to an audience.
Her research focuses on Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium responsible for botulism, a paralytic disease sometimes contracted from eating spoiled food.
“It produces the most potent toxic substance known to man,” Jackson says. Learning more about it could lead to better treatment options, she says.
Jackson, a Chino Hills native, says she became interested in biology as a child after attending a science camp where she was able to dissect a fetal pig and a cow eye.
“If this is what science is all about, I want to be in science,” Jackson says, recalling the experience.
Jackson comes to Cal Poly Pomona by way of the University of Central Florida, which she attended on a soccer scholarship. She says enjoyed being involved with the athletics program there, but she pined for time in the laboratory.
“I didn’t get to do research in undergrad,” Jackson says. “With soccer, you didn’t really have time.”
Now as a Cal Poly Pomona student, Jackson is getting a full dose of what she missed out on in Florida. “I love it – just doing this hands-on research,” she says.
Sometimes research can be stymied by “frustrations,” but Jackson says that’s no different from being on the playing field. Both soccer and lab work require hard work and perseverance, she says.
And though she says she pretty much lives in the lab these days, Jackson hasn’t left athletics behind. She coaches the girls’ soccer team at her high school alma mater, St. Lucy’s Priory in Glendora.
“You find the time to do the things that you love,” Jackson says.
(Photo: Jessica Jackson won the Scientific Discipline Award at the annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students held in November in San Jose.)