By Mariah Cox | Bond LSC
Karen Segovia wanted to work with animals the moment her childhood
dog fell sick. With few veterinarians near the rural town in Perú where she
grew up, she felt powerless to help, and that inspired her to eventually go to
But it was her preparation for her dissertation to meet the degree
requirements at San Marcos National University veterinary school that refined
Segovia’s focus on something smaller. Already interested in virology, her
research narrowed in viruses and avian flu. A connection with a colleague led
her to wild bird reservoirs to study samples for various avian viruses.
“I was going to the coast to sample wild bird feces on the beach
and then we isolated several viruses in the south from wild birds,” Segovia
Segovia’s career path has taken a turn since then toward research
with the realization that it has a bigger impact on the health of the animal population.
After becoming a veterinarian, she had the opportunity to continue her
education at the University of Georgia and continue doing research on avian
From there, she began a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Athens, Georgia. Most avian
influenza research is centralized in the United States in Athens, Georgia,
because of the states’ large poultry industry. With influenza research only
being conducted in a select number of places throughout the U.S., Segovia was
on the lookout for her next step.
“I was finishing my postdoc at the USDA and I was looking to
broaden my horizon to increase my knowledge and skills working with influenza
viruses” Segovia said. “Upon researching, I discovered that Dr. Wan was leading
projects that were analyzing several host factors that can help us understand
the mechanisms shaping the ecology of influenza viruses in different
populations by using new innovative techniques”
Now Segovia is a senior research associate and lab manager in
Henry Wan’s lab at Bond LSC. Her research focuses on detecting and
characterizing avian viruses directly from clinical samples by the use of a
For Segovia, she sees her research as not only a benefit to the
economy and public health but to a bigger picture.
“As a vet student, I went to poultry and swine farms often, you
can clearly see how many losses it has when there is a disease present,”
Segovia said. “It’s not just the economy, but people rely on livestock farms
for their jobs and income. Research on influenza has a very big impact.”
Segovia’s work studying influenza has also allowed her to give
back to her country.
“In the past, my country didn’t do much research, but last year I
got contacted by my university to participate in a grant application sponsored
by the World Bank,” Segovia said. “My home university received a grant and they
needed two new graduated Ph.D. researchers and I was one of them. My university
received a significant amount of money for three years and employed more people
to help with research.”
In the future, Segovia plans to continue to help her home country
with research efforts through collaborations and suggestions.
As for now, Segovia is focused on establishing herself here in
Bond LSC, learning new techniques and discovering more about avian influenza.