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A Newsletter for Biochemistry, Genetics and Cell Biology, and Microbiology Alumni & Friends College of Veterinary Medicine | Molecular Biosciences News

Five Questions with Dr. Gay Lynn Clyde

Dr. Gay Lynn Clyde
Gay Lynn Clyde, WSU microbiology alumna.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

From as long as I can remember, I have loved animals. Growing up, my family lived mostly in the suburbs. We had a dog, but I would not have considered them “animal” people. When I was 9 years old, I started riding horses. I bought my first horse when I was 12 years old from money I’d saved mowing lawns in the summer. I knew then that I would be a veterinarian.

After I earned a bachelor of science degree in microbiology from Washington State University, I applied to several veterinary schools. Applying to veterinary school was, and still is, extremely competitive, and I did not get in right away. So, I worked for several years for a pharmaceutical company in Seattle on the research and development side. I volunteered at Woodland Park Zoo working with lemurs, gorillas, and orangutans while living and working in Seattle. After several failed attempts to get into veterinary school, I returned to WSU to earn a second degree in natural resource science. I applied again to veterinary school and was accepted at WSU.

Can you share a little about your career since you graduated from WSU?

My true passion was always horses, and I wanted to be a large animal veterinarian. But life has a way of going down paths you would have never thought of. I met my husband in my second year of veterinary school and we got married the week before graduation. He told me from the get go that he was a farmer and he would never leave the area, so love being the way it is, I was happy to stay. I started working in a mixed animal practice in Lewiston and loved the work. Unfortunately, once I was pregnant it was not recommended that I pull calves and palpate horses, so I decided to focus more on small animal medicine and surgery. From then on, I was committed to be a small animal veterinarian.

I practiced for 10 years in the private sector, mostly with small animals and exotics. I loved working in private practice, but in 2012, I had an opportunity to take a different direction in my career. I joined the Office of the Campus Veterinarian here at WSU as a clinical veterinarian for all WSU owned animals. I am extremely fortunate to work for WSU in the position. Every day is quite unique not only in what we see and do, but the range of species we get to work with from the grizzly bears to the tiny mouse. I began my career in my mind at an early age, wanting to be just like James Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small. Now at the peak of my career, I have a small piece of that vision that I live every day.

How did your degree in microbiology help shape your career?

Science was always my favorite topic in high school, so when I got to WSU as an undergraduate, I gravitated to a microbiology degree. The course work included genetics, biochemistry, immunology, virology, physiology, parasitology, and anatomy to name a few. All classes I knew would help prepare me for veterinary school. I also knew that a degree in microbiology would prepare me for other career options such as being a medical technologist or a research assistant, working in the food industry, or applying to graduate school. Having options was always in the back of my mind for my career, and a microbiology degree had a wide variety of career options and I had a passion for the course work, so it was a good fit. My professors (Drs. Paznokas, Mallavia, and Magnuson) at the time were like family to our close-knit group of students.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I take two to three weeks of vacation every August from my position at WSU to drive combine for our family farm in Moscow. I love harvest, my daughter and I are in one combine and my son drives the other. My nephew runs the bank out wagon, and my husband follows behind us and fixes whatever falls apart or we break as we go. It is an amazing time for our family; we are up early every day, working together, talking on radios for 14 to 16 hours a day. These are times I will cherish all my life.

Is there anything you wish you could do over in your education or career?

Looking back over my life, I have been extremely fortunate. My parents planned and saved money for my brother and I to go to college as they did (they were first generation college graduates). We were a middle-class family and saving money for our education was important. I was able to attend four years as an undergraduate student at WSU debt free (I worked also in the summers). Looking back, this was an amazing “gift,” a high-quality bachelor’s degree in microbiology and starting off debt free. So, if I had to change anything in my education, I would say “I wouldn’t change a thing!” Everything in my education and life has lead me to this point and I am so grateful to be where I am, “Go Cougs”

Six Facts About Dr. Gay Lynn Clyde

Hometown: Richland, Washington
Degrees: Bachelor of Science (’91 microbiology), Bachelor of Science (’99 natural resource sciences), Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (’03), all obtained from WSU
Pets: Border collie cross dog named “Bear,” numerous cats, two ponies (“Solomon,” “Iris”), one horse (“Star”), two chickens (“May,” “June”)
Hobbies: Tennis, gardening, and all my animals
Favorite book: All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
Family: Married 14 years to a fifth generation wheat farmer. We have two children; a 13-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter.

Message From the Director

photo of director jonathan jones
Jonathan Jones, director of the School of Molecular Biosciences

Recently, I received three letters from 4th graders at Walnut Grove Elementary School in Vancouver, Washington. They wrote that they are avid sport fans, and each stated their interest in WSU. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and I am hoping that they will one day take some classes in our school and even become School of Molecular Biosciences majors. Maybe they can follow in the footsteps of our featured alumna, Dr. Gay Lynn Clyde. She earned a degree in microbiology and also received her doctorate in veterinary medicine from WSU. Dr. Clyde is a great role model not only for our current crop of undergraduates, but also for our future students, including Rahil, Ford, and Aiden, loyal WSU supporters in Vancouver.

— Jonathan Jones,
director of the School of
Molecular Biosciences

Training our Students for Success

Story by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04 | Photo by Henry Moore Jr.

Keesha Matz with Dr. Alan Goodman.
Keesha Matz with Dr. Alan Goodman.

Keesha Matz wants to understand some of the world’s deadliest viruses. Raised in Chehalis, Washington, her love for microbiology began in a molecular genetics high school class taught by WSU alumnus Henri Weeks.

“The class gave me a real feel for research, which I think is unique for a high school class,” says Matz.

That experience inspired her to apply to the WSU School of Molecular Bioscience’s STARS program. Students Targeted toward Advanced Research Studies, or STARS, accelerates learning and provides hands-on research experience. “They help you get into a research lab right away,” she says. For Matz, it meant that she could spend the summers after her freshman and sophomore years conducting research instead of going back home to get a job.

Her first experience in a research lab was with Dr. Hector Aguilar-Carreño in the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health who studies the Nipah virus. First discovered in 1999 in Malaysia and Singapore, the deadly virus was the subject of the 2011 film, Contagion, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. In Aguilar-Carreño’s lab, she studied how proteins of the virus can spread the disease throughout the body. She also studied Lyme disease with Dr. Troy Bankhead, who has a joint appointment in the Allen School and the Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology department. She is currently conducting research on the Nipah virus with Dr. Alan Goodman in the School of Molecular Biosciences.

“I am able to directly apply what I learned in Dr. Aguilar-Carreño’s lab in Dr. Goodman’s lab,” she says.

In Goodman’s lab, rather than trying to understand how the virus spreads throughout the body, they want to know how the virus can evade the body’s innate immune response.

When a virus enters the body, the immune system typically responds to the foreign invader. But with the Nipah virus, certain proteins signal the body to decrease its immune response. “Keesha is not afraid to take on new, large-scale, challenging experiments,” says Goodman. “She carefully plans every step beforehand to make sure that the experiments are carried out properly and that she can perform them independently.”

This summer as an undergraduate research fellow at Mayo Clinic, Matz will study a protein of the Ebola virus that also evades the antiviral response at the cellular level, similar to the work she had done at WSU.

For Matz, the support she has received at WSU to pursue research opportunities and apply for scholarships has made a difference in her academic success. She is 1 of only 240 students nationwide to receive the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships for 2017–18. She also received two scholarships through the School of Molecular Biosciences—the Alice Lloyd Diers and William E. Diers Microbiology Student Endowment Scholarship in 2016 and the Walter L. & Pauline W. Harris Microbiology Endowment Scholarship in 2017.

“It was a huge honor to be awarded a national scholarship,” says Matz, who has maintained nearly a 4.0 GPA while working in the research labs. “Being selected for these scholarships has allowed me to focus more on academics and research and take advantage of other opportunities. It feels like a big pat on the back.”

Matz will graduate in the spring of 2018 with a bachelor of science degree in microbiology. From there she plans to go to graduate school. Berkeley, Mayo Clinic, and Cornell are places she is considering applying to, but the dream is Stanford. “You have to try,” she says.

Thinking about the future, Matz would eventually like to work in government lab or private industry conducting medical research that can be used to design treatments for infectious diseases, like Nipah. “I would like to be in an organization that works globally, such as the World Health Organization,” she says. She also wants to support the university that has given her so much.

“In the future, I definitely want to give back, because I know how much it means to students,” she says. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the mentoring I’ve had at WSU.”

Message from the Director

photo of director jonathan jones
Jonathan Jones, director of the School of Molecular Biosciences

I am writing this letter the week following our May graduation ceremonies. The sun is shining and all is well with the world! Congratulations once again to all our graduating seniors and doctoral students. During the ceremony, one of our faculty, Jon Oatley, hooded SMB graduate student Aileen Helsel who earned her doctorate after researching sperm stem cell biology in Jon’s lab. It has been a busy few months for Aileen. In the last two months, Aileen not only defended her thesis and published a research paper, but also gave birth to a baby girl. That’s what I call productivity! Aileen’s growing family reminds me that this summer our SMB family is also expanding. In July, we will be welcoming a new faculty member, Ryan Driskell. Ryan spent the last 10 years in Cambridge and London, researching various aspects of skin stem cell biology in one of the premier labs in the world. We are excited that he selected WSU to establish his research team and look forward to working with him in Pullman.

— Jonathan Jones,
Director of the School of Molecular Biosciences