UFRI Fellow, Honda 2015

HondaJennifer Honda, Ph.D.
Post-doctoral Fellow, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Aurora, Colorado
Undergraduate Faculty Research Initiative (UFRI) Fellow
Award year: 2015


Dr. Jennifer R. Honda is nontuberculous mycobacteriologist (NTM) at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and National Jewish Health. Her research goals are to understand the mechanisms that govern host-pathogen-environment interactions in the context of NTM lung disease, an under-recognized, emerging disease of public health importance. Her first research arm aims to elucidate why NTM patients are prone to life-threatening superinfections with other bacteria. Her accomplished work offers a novel explanation for NTM-associated superinfections; i.e., NTM resist and neutralize the antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin. For unclear reason, NTM disease rates are highest in Hawai'i. Since Dr. Honda was born and raised in Honolulu she was motivated to initiate NTM studies in the Hawai’i. Thus, her second research arm aims to understand the factors that drive disease emergence in Hawai’i including the epidemiology, host risk factors, environmental exposures, and organism virulence with the hope of uncovering novel points of intervention.

Dr. Honda is passionate about fostering the scientific spark in the next generation of scientists. As a community college instructor, she has instructed, trained, and mentored over 500 undergraduate students. She has also engaged high school students in Hawai’i and Colorado to study the development of microbial biofilms on showerhead surfaces leading to a peer-reviewed publication with the students as primary authors. The lack of diversity in the life sciences is long-standing and difficult to overcome. Dr. Honda wishes to create pipeline programs for all students, but particularly those from Hawai’i and other US-Allied Pacific Islands, using the unique training ground offered by the NTM-Hawai’i project. She believes that by contributing to research projects geared to solving an emerging health crisis affecting Hawai’i residents, students from Hawai’i will feel a positive sense of purpose and be more motivated to work together to overcome underrepresentation. Dr. Honda welcomes conversations on how to increase Pacific Island student representation in the life sciences.


ASM-LINK Welcomes Your Input
Looking for advice on ways to enhance undergraduate learning or just hoping to start a conversation about innovative ways to involve underrepresented minorities in research? The ASM-NSF Leaders Inspiring Networks and Knowledge (LINK) programs welcome your interest. Contact the individual awardee for details. 
LINK is sponsored by ASM with support from National Science Foundation grant no. 1241970.