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. As a high school student researcher at New York University,
Rebecca developed an algorithm to detect potentially disease-causing mutations,
which she presented at TEDxCMU in 2013. As a visiting undergraduate researcher
at Johns Hopkins, she developed a suite of tools within the Rosetta
biomolecular modeling software to investigate membrane protein structure. Both
of these works lay a foundation for better computational modeling membrane
proteins, a class of proteins that are targeted by 60% of drugs but are very
difficult to study in the wet lab.
In 2016, Rebecca graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a BS in
chemistry. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD at Johns Hopkins University in
chemical and biomolecular engineering. Her current work focuses on developing physics-based
models of different cell membrane environments to be used in structure
prediction. 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.
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 several high school and
undergraduate students, spearheading inclusion initiatives within the
RosettaCommons, and helping to create a new summer internship program in
Rebecca is from Commack, New York.