Q&A with graduate student Charles Ugwu

Charles Ugwu works in his lab at the Paul G. Allen School for Global Health on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, in Pullman. (College of Veterinary Medicine/Ted S. Warren)

Graduate student Charles Ugwu is leading research to identify strategies that can limit the ability of a common type of pathogenic bacteria to utilize the metabolic requirements critical for its proliferation. Training under Associate Professor Anders Omsland, Charles is pursuing a PhD in Immunology and Infectious Diseases and is on track to graduate in 2027.

He recently took some time to answer questions about his research and experiences at WSU.

What are you researching at WSU?

At the Omsland lab, I seek to define the critical metabolic nutrients, substrates, and pathways required for the optimal fitness of Coxiella burnetii, a pathogenic bacteria that causes Q-fever in humans and Coxiellosis in livestock, and to identify strategies that can disrupt their ability to utilize them. Currently, I am investigating how to block Coxiella from being able to use glucose.

Why did you decide to complete your doctorate at WSU?

Because Washington state was ranked overall best state in the U.S. in 2021, and at WSU, I found researchers like Dr. Anders Omsland and others who could potentially make excellent mentors to me and whose research were aligned with my interests.

What has been your favorite thing about WSU?

The peaceful, calm, serene, and loving nature of the university campus and Pullman.

What about WSU has surprised you the most?

The extraordinary love, care, and support I experienced from almost every aspect of the university and Pullman community when I first arrived the United States.

How has your mentor helped you?

Dr. Anders Omsland has been available, reachable, and responsive to me around the clock, and he has ensured I have everything I need to make progress in my research and academics.

What do you hope to do after graduate school?

I will take my new knowledge, skills, and experience to big pharma and help with drug and vaccine discovery and development.