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Communications and Marketing

Immersed in infectious disease

Psychology major Katherine Mendoza ’14 is a co-author of a study that was published in Antimicrobial Agents of Chemotherapy Journal via the American Society for Microbiology.

Mendoza completed the study in her second year as a medical research intern in the Department of Microbiology and Infection Control at NorthShore University HealthSystem.

Over the course of a year and a half, Mendoza along with her colleagues surveyed three long-term care facilities in Chicago for patterns in the spread of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA. 

“What we found was…a cluster of MRSA that was particularly resistant to the antibiotics being administered to the patients,” she explained. “It had never been found in the greater Chicago area before. It was something that was novel and something the healthcare industry in surrounding areas should know about.”

In addition to becoming published, Mendoza said her internship helped to reinforce her interest in research as a career and her fascination with the correlation between the mind and infectious disease.

“It’s interesting to see how my psychology background can blend with something that’s a menace to society,” she said. “Everyone is afraid of getting sick, and here I was totally immersed in it. I wasn’t afraid any more and I saw how infectious diseases impact the people.”

Mendoza is currently working on a research about cyber bullying for her senior seminar class with Associate Professor of Psychology Nancy Brekke. She hopes to earn a master’s degree in health psychology and, ultimately, her PhD after graduating from Lake Forest College.