Headshot portrait of Elsa Birch - Bio-X Bowes Fellow
Bio-X Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2009
Home Department: Chemical Engineering
Faculty Advisors: Markus Covert (Bioengineering) and Alfred Spormann (Chemical Engineering)

Research Title: Modeling the bacterial metabolite supply used by cell and viral processes

Research Description: A virus is only a set of instructions for making more of itself; to replicate, it must commander the necessary tools and building blocks from the host it infects. The Covert lab uses mathematical tools to better understand this host-viral metabolic interaction. Bacteriophage are viruses that infect bacteria. They have been modeled computationally, as have their bacterial hosts, and Elsa was involved in the Covert lab’s recent work to combine these two different types of models so that they communicate and limit each other during a simulation of infection. The results enable observation in more detail than is available experimentally and provide high throughput predictions about perturbations of viral replication.


Elsa Birch is a software engineer at Pinterest working in Business Intelligence.