From an early age, Rebecca Alford’s desire to understand her visual impairment ignited her passion for science. Today, this passion drives her research in engineering computational tools to investigate biology at the molecular level. First, as a high school student researcher at New York University, Rebecca developed an algorithm to detect potentially disease-causing mutations in membrane proteins, which led to presenting her work at TEDxCMU in 2013. As an undergraduate, she conducted research at Johns Hopkins where she developed a suite of tools, within the Rosetta biomolecular modeling software, to investigate membrane protein structure. Her co-first author paper on this toolkit was published in PLoS Computational Biology in 2015.
Outside of the lab, Rebecca is dedicated to increasing participation in computing fields, especially for women and students with disabilities. Toward this goal, she has led various efforts including mentoring seven high school students and co-teaching a workshop to introduce undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to software development for computational biology.
Rebecca will graduate with a BS in chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University and, as a Hertz Fellow, will pursue a PhD at Johns Hopkins University in chemical and biomolecular engineering. Her overall future goal is to work at the interface of computing, chemistry, and biology to investigate diseases at the molecular level and create new drugs to treat them.
Rebecca is from Commack, New York.