“At my high school, 7 of my classes had the same 12 people in it,” said Riley. “I also was recruited to play basketball and earned the Mary Francis Clarke scholarship.”
Since her start at Clarke, she’s been working an innovative research project. Part of Riley’s research is scanning patient data to find ways to make HIV antiviral drugs more
effective. One of the most important HIV treatments is Kaletra, a combination of two drugs that are known as “protease inhibitors.” Proteases are enzymes that break down
proteins and occur naturally in all organisms. They also happen to be an essential way HIV reproduces. Stop it from reproducing, and bam – the virus is unable to spread.
Riley is a part of making sure that happens.
“We’ve teamed up with the University of Wisconsin to analyze a database of patient cell counts in the Midwest,” said Riley. “From there we crunch the numbers and find trends.
It helps us know what kind of medication works best. I love to see people, and work with people, but I like to do research and make the numbers make sense.”
The teachers and professors at Clarke are really hands-on. They are here to give one-on-one support when needed.
“I work really closely with chair and associate professor of biology Michelle Slover,” said Riley. “As my adviser, she helps me on a personal level. I also hope to shadow a physician, as my professors have a ton of connections.”
Research isn’t the only thing that occupies Riley’s time.
“I’m vice president of our HIPPO Society,” said Riley. “We put on science lectures and local physicians come in to tell their stories. It helps you see a doctor as a person. I hope to one day use to my own data to do research, and learning from professionals is a great way to do it.”