Kellie Vinal [pronounced vine-uhl, like the record] received her B.S. in microbiology from N.C. State (go pack!) in 2009, with minors in both genetics and biotechnology. After spending several years under the supervision of Dr. Masahiko Negishi and Dr. Tatsuya Sueyoshi at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), she packed her bags to begin a doctoral degree in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Emory University.
After rotating through several laboratories, studying methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), gonorrhoea, influenza, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), she became what she calls an "accidental biochemist" -- becoming fascinated by structural biology, methyltransferases, and evolution of antibiotic resistance enzymes. Under the supervision of Dr. Graeme L. Conn, she studied the biochemistry of antibiotic resistance, focusing specifically on NpmA, a pathogen-associated bacterial enzyme that confers resistance to aminoglycoside antibiotics.
Her passion for interdisciplinary conversation + inspiring curiosity and wonder about science led her to get involved with the Atlanta Science Festival, Ladyfest Atlanta, Solve for X science variety show, Critical Juncture intersectionality conference, Dragon Con Science Track, Georgia BioEd Institute, BioIgnite, and Inman Park Squirrel Census as a graduate student. She co-hosted 28 episodes of the Blue Streak Science podcast and has written for BioDetectives, Destination HealthEU, Georgia Health News, Creative Loafing, Emory Medicine Magazine, Atlanta Magazine, and Unsafe Foods.
She received her Ph.D. in 2016, after which she completed a brief postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University before taking the leap and becoming a full-time freelance science communicator. These days, she's a Scientist in Residence for STE(A)M Truck, serving as Festival Coordinator for the Atlanta Science Festival, producing the Atlanta arm of The Story Collider, writing about infectious disease and public health for various outlets, training to be a tour guide at the David J. Sencer CDC Museum, working on K-12-focused projects for Georgia BioEd Institute, organizing ComSciConATL, and experimenting with several new creative endeavors.
When she's not science-ing, you can find her adventuring with friends, doing really impressive dance moves, biking around ATL, or making zines.