Thursday, March 17, 2022

Graduate student discovers passion for immunology as lab volunteer

Graduate student discovers passion for immunology as lab volunteer


FEBRUARY 11, 2020 — If you summarize the past 10 years of Carol Chase’s life, it sounds something like this: Chase graduates from Brigham Young University—Hawaii, serves a church mission in Canada, works as a lab technician at Pioneer Flour Mills, earns her M.S. at UTSA, begins her Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology at UTSA, gives birth to a son and continues her doctoral work. 

“My path to getting here was not very direct,” Chase laughed. “I was a gravy and flour tester. It was a good job and paid well and had good benefits, but I wanted to do something more and do more research.” 

Chase discovered her passion for immunology while volunteering in an autoimmunity lab. Now a Ph.D. candidate, Chase is looking for blood biomarkers to monitor the progression of multiple sclerosis. 

“Most people can spend the majority of their life in what you would call remission with little symptoms. They are always at risk of having a relapse,” Chase explained. “There are no medical tests for that and no way of monitoring that. I’m trying to find proteins in the blood that you can test in patients that will give you an idea if they are going to have a relapse and if their disease is progressing or getting worse.” 

Chase hopes that her findings will help MS patients experience a better quality of life. “I always tell my mom, ‘This is important and someone has to do it,’” she said. “And I want to do it.” 

Her son Teddy was born during Chase’s second year in the program. “I remember being up at 3 a.m. with a crying baby and then having to do a presentation that morning,” she said. 

During the particularly difficult days, Chase considered leaving for a less demanding job. “I would look at the other people and think, I don’t fit in anymore,” she remembered. “But I worked through it. I love what I’m doing and I think it’s important. I just kept showing up and doing it.” 

Explore UTSA's College of Sciences.

Chase said she’s grateful for the support of UTSA’s RISE community, a federally funded program that provides financial and professional development support for underrepresented students. “They gave me a community that I belong to,” she said. “When I didn’t necessarily feel like I fit in that well, I always fit in there.” 

With the end of her doctoral journey in sight, Chase is looking forward to a future in immunology research. Her dream is to work at the National Institutes of Health. 

“I want to become someone that my son would be proud of and look up to, which sometimes means making sacrifices and doing difficult things so he can see that education is important, serving other people is important, and it’s worth making those sacrifices,” she said.

— Lauren Moriarty

Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn.

UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.




University of Texas at San Antonio receives ‘transformational’ $40M gift

UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.