Stephen Gipson has always enjoyed science.
When he began his studies in the biology program at the University of New Orleans, Gipson applied as a volunteer in the Integrative Ecology and Evolution Lab run by Simon Laivaux, professor for the program. “I found the process of learning, developing questions, and addressing them through my experiments to be rewarding,” he said. “I also enjoyed the unique and lasting friendships that you develop with your lab mates.” This formative encounter spurred Gipson to continue his studies in an evolutionary biology doctorate program at Monash University in Australia.
Wanting to shift gears a bit, Gipson then applied for a research opportunity with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture Research Service (ARS) Research Participation Program, hoping he could directly impact people at a more personal level. The USDA ARS Research Participation Program provides opportunities for students, postgraduates, established scientists and faculty to participate in programs, projects and activities at ARS-designated facilities to help ARS solve agricultural problems of high national priority. Gipson’s research fellowship was primarily hosted at the USDA Southern Regional Research Center located in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Gipson's USDA ARS research allowed him to interact with the Maleki Lab, which is making tangible contributions to helping those with food allergies. “I saw this as an opportunity to do important work and learn a completely new set of skills from what I had gained thus far,” he said.
Under the guidance of his mentor, Soheila Maleki, a research chemist with the USDA, Gipson had the opportunity to learn from many experts in the field of food allergy. During his appointment, his research goal was to help understand why those with a food allergy often exhibit allergic responses to multiple foods. Specifically, the goal was to characterize peanut and tree nut allergens to recognize why people who are allergic to one food may exhibit allergic reactions upon exposure to a different food. To better understand this specific topic, Gipson collaborated with other USDA researchers.
Looking back at his time during his appointment with USDA ARS, what sticks out to Gipson are the opportunities he was given to succeed by his mentors, who he described as “generous” and “supportive”. Gipson also noted that he believes there is a distinct advantage of participating in a federal research facility appointment because of the possibility to connect with many experts in their field who share their own unique experiences and approaches that everyone can learn from.
Following the completion of his appointment, Gipson accepted the position of field applications scientist with Meso Scale Discovery (MSD). He has been in his current role for over a year now and believes his research opportunity with the USDA taught him skills that have helped him excel in his occupation. “The skills I developed during my ORISE research program allowed me to find my dream job,” Gipson shared.
Gipson has authorship in the following published articles:
Structure and IgE cross-reactivity among walnut and peanut vicilin leader sequences J Nesbit, A Foo, S Gipson, P Bushel, E DeRose, H Cheng, C Schein, ... Authorea Preprints
Epitopes with similar physicochemical properties contribute to cross reactivity between peanut and tree nuts JB Nesbit, CH Schein, BA Braun, SAY Gipson, H Cheng, BK Hurlburt, ... Molecular Immunology 122, 223-231
The USDA ARS Research Participation Program is funded by USDA and is administered through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE). ORISE is managed for DOE by ORAU.