Thanks to a former University of West Georgia Dual Enrollment student, two professors at the University of West Georgia now have an unusual claim to fame: a virus named after them.
To honor the mentorship of Dr. Mautusi Mitra, associate professor of biology, and Dr. Stacey Britton, assistant professor of science education, former laboratory intern and Carrollton High School alumna Taylor Berry has named a bacteriophage she discovered “mitron,” a combination of the two professors’ last names.
“I realized that she has named the virus after fusing our last names,” said Mitra, who teaches in UWG’s College of Arts, Culture and Scientific Inquiry. “I was touched by Taylor's gesture. This is a great honor for any mentor.”
Britton, in the College of Education, has enjoyed helping students at Carrollton High School, where she met Berry. Berry, a high school senior at the time, was looking for an internship to further her interest in studying microbiology and biochemistry. While working alongside Britton at UWG, she became a participant in the Mitra Lab, where Berry began her work in microbiology.
“Dr. Mitra and Dr. Britton were both instrumental in getting me started in research,” Berry recalled. “I wanted to pay tribute to them, so I just combined their names, and ‘mitron’ also sounds like a really cool virus name.”
Berry isolated mitron, a bacteriophage, in a soil sample in her current research. Recent research indicates bacteriophage may serve as alternatives to antibiotics. Berry’s goal is to study how mitron infects bacteria and add it to overall phage knowledge, which can possibly lead to more alternatives to antibiotics.
“Taylor will be one of those who changes the world, and I am so very proud of her for that,” Britton concluded.