Graduate Student Spotlight: Angela Phillips

Danielle Randall
April 14, 2017

Angela Phillips is a fourth-year graduate student in the lab of Whitehead Career Development Professor Matthew D. Shoulders. Originally from Stuart, Florida, Angela is an NSF Fellow and an MIT Presidential Fellow. Her research is focused on the evolution of influenza proteins in varied host environments. Influenza is constantly accruing new mutations, and many of these mutations are destabilizing and may prevent influenza proteins from reaching their folded, functional forms. Human cells have proteins called “chaperones” that help other proteins in our cells fold properly. Intriguingly, influenza does not have chaperones to ameliorate the effect of destabilizing mutations, and instead uses host chaperones to fold viral proteins. Angela is working to understand how influenza protein evolution is influenced by the presence of host chaperones, and whether this knowledge can be harnessed as an antiviral therapeutic strategy that is refractory to resistance. 

As the subject of April 2017's Graduate Student Spotlight, Angela shares her secret talent, the most awe-inspiring place she's visited, the career she'd pick in an alternate reality, and much more!

1. What is your guilty pleasure?
Pan Pizza is my guilty pleasure.

2. What news story in history have you found to be the most riveting?
Unfortunately, it seems that everyday there’s a news story more riveting than yesterday.

3. Who, besides your parents, has had the greatest impact on your life?
My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Gifford.

4. What is your ultimate goal in life?
My ultimate goal in life is to be happy.

5. Who is the most famous person that you’ve met?
I’ve met Venus Williams.

6. Who would be the best person you could be stuck in an elevator with?
Michelle Obama. 

7. What TV show would you like your life to be like?
The New Girl.

8. Would you rather be completely invisible or be able to fly for one day only?
I'd rather be able to fly.

9. What never fails to make you laugh?
Fellow Graduate Student, Kenny Kang!

10. If you could only eat all three meals at one restaurant for a month, which would it be?

11. Where is the most awe-inspiring place that you’ve been?
The Gili Islands in Indonesia. 

12. What piece of technology would you most like to time travel with and dazzle Colonial Bostonians?
The iPhone.

13. Which flavor of ice cream do you wish existed?
B3 satisfies all of my ice cream needs.

14. If time froze for everyone in the world except for you for one day, what would you do?
I'd sit on the beach with a good book.

15. If you could pick one fantasy world to live in for a month, which would it be?
I'd pick the one in which Hillary Clinton is President.

16. Do you have a secret talent?
I can disguise vegetables in desserts.

17. What are your top three favorite movies of all time?
Top Gun, A Few Good Men, and The Great Debaters.

18. What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
I wish I'd known how to program.

19. If you had to choose between living without Internet or living without heating or air conditioning, what would you choose?
I'd live without heating and air conditioning.

20. If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be?
A software engineer.


Many thanks to Angela for these thoughtful answers! Stay tuned for more Graduate Student Spotlights in the months to come!