Grace Deitzler

Is there a connection between the microbes in your gut and your behavior? Scientists at Oregon State are finding out. One of those scientists is Grace Deitzler. Grace is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in microbiology.

As a Midwesterner, she was drawn to the West Coast for her graduate studies. Following her undergrad degree, Grace worked full-time in a lab at Washington University in St. Louis where she studied the vaginal microbiome and etiology of bacterial vaginosis. In the lab, she developed a strong interest in microorganisms and how they interact with the humans they inhabit. When looking for graduate programs, she considered OSU. After a positive interview experience, Grace said it was “the exciting research opportunities, fantastic location, and the collaborative and supportive environment that drew me to OSU. I fell in love with Oregon and knew it was the right place for me to start my graduate career.”⠀

For her thesis, Grace works with Dr. Maude David and Dr. Kathy Magnusson on how changing the gut microbiome impacts anxiety and social behavior in a mouse model of Autism Spectrum Disorder. On another project looking at honey bee health with Dr. Ramesh Sagili, they feed probiotics to honey bees in the lab and then challenge their immune system by infecting them with a parasite called Nosema ceranae. Following infection, they measure how the bee’s preference for different concentrations of sugar syrup changes.⠀

Grace was awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Program Fellowship in 2020 for her work with honey bees. In the past, she used a combination of GRAs and GTAs at OSU to provide a stipend, pay for credit hours, and to gain valuable research and teaching experience.⠀

Looking beyond graduate school, Grace hopes to combine her love of art and communication with science to help her reach a broader audience through writing, radio or other artistic means. Being a host with the graduate student-run KBVR radio show Inspiration Dissemination has her already working towards this goal. She also plans on applying for postdoctoral positions to continue her research. Grace noted, “as long as I’m studying microbes, I’m happy.”