In the Lab and Onstage: Naoko Uno Researches Vaccines and Makes Music

In the Lab and Onstage: Naoko Uno Researches Vaccines and Makes Music


Naoko Uno lives a twin life, however not like the superheroes of your favourite comics, there isn’t any secret to her cool identities. When Uno isn’t pounding away on a keyboard and belting out backup vocals for her psychedelic pop band Calico Imaginative and prescient, she’s donning a lab coat to analysis vaccines on the College of Georgia’s Ted Ross Lab on the Middle for Vaccines and Immunology. 

Working with vaccines hadn’t all the time been the plan for Uno. Her father—a physicist and researcher in Kawasaki, Japan—needed her to observe in his path and turn into a physics professor. Uno adopted that plan by pursuing a masters in physics at Portland State College, however whereas utilizing nanoparticles as a vaccine supply system, she found her love for vaccine analysis. 

“Physics was very theoretical. It’s not very relevant or fundable,” Uno says. “I actually favored that vaccine facet of truly with the ability to assist folks immediately.”

Earlier than finding out COVID-19, the main focus of Uno’s analysis was the Zika virus and the dengue fever virus. As a graduate scholar, she was the solo researcher on the latter in her lab, which had obtained funding to analysis vaccines for each viruses. 

When COVID-19 hit the U.S., many individuals felt as if the nation was unprepared to take care of the virus. However Uno says she felt as if her graduate research ready her a bit for what was to come back. 

“Dengue and Zika, they’re labeled as ‘rising infectious illnesses,’ and so is coronavirus now, and so I feel it did put together me simply with making an attempt to determine new experiments,” Uno says. “’With coronavirus, nobody is aware of what they’re doing, however we’re all making an attempt to assist one another. And so, I feel being so impartial in my grad research form of helps me assume or be a greater researcher.”

In 2018, Uno gained UGA’s Three Minute Thesis competitors along with her dissertation on the dengue virus, an accomplishment she partly attributes to her musical background. “I actually didn’t assume I used to be going to win as a result of everybody else did such an excellent job,” she says. “So I feel having that background doing musical theater actually helped me with blocking and with the ability to undertaking actually loud within the theater.”

D. Kozlowski Naoko Uno

Uno grew up in a musical family, her curiosity in music coming from her mom, who’s a piano instructor in Japan. Uno is presently a member of two Athens bands, Calico Imaginative and prescient and steel group Fleet of Pigs; every offers off totally different vibes to audiences.

“Fleet of Pigs touches extra on my musical-theater facet, the place it’s simply performing, and we’ve costumes and lights, and it’s very tongue-in-cheek,” she says. “Whereas Calico Imaginative and prescient, I do put in much more of myself. We dedicate much more time to it. And despite the fact that it’s not as catchy and loud and enjoyable as Fleet of Pigs, Calico Imaginative and prescient remains to be enjoyable. And our reveals are all the time actual artistic with a lot of fog and projections.” 

Whereas the pandemic has put dwell reveals on maintain, Uno says Calico Imaginative and prescient has spent the time writing new songs and can begin recording an album on the finish of March. She’s additionally desirous to host one other Athens Face/Off, an annual occasion she co-organizes the place 60 musicians are randomly assigned into 20 bands and should carry out collectively. 

Although the music scene has successfully been shut down, Uno says the pandemic has helped her understand what’s necessary to her. “Music has all the time been a very necessary a part of my life. And I feel it was a very good stress reliever once I was in grad faculty,” she says. “And I feel not with the ability to play reveals and having that social facet made me actually bummed out.”

Though vaccine analysis is numerous laborious work, Uno says she loves her job and is grateful for the individuals who have been open and curious concerning the virus. “It’s form of cool. Now, so many extra folks within the public form of have a greater understanding of vaccines and viruses. However, I additionally don’t assume they perceive how a lot work goes into it, and what number of hours we’re within the lab on the weekends,” she says. “I feel numerous us have enjoyable doing analysis—or we’re masochists. I don’t know, however I feel all of us do it as a result of we love doing science.”





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