Catherine Vrentas

Cathy Vrentas, Ph.D., is a microbiologist and molecular biologist who has been involved in science outreach for over 15 years. She received her B.S. from Penn State and her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she founded the UW Biology Outreachers and subsequently worked as the Biotechnology Outreach Specialist for Cooperative Extension, traveling across the state to extract DNA and discuss microbes with people of all ages. Her “Biofuel Blast” curriculum was selected as the 2009 4-H National Youth Science Day experiment.  Cathy completed her postdoctoral research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (prion diseases in livestock and wildlife) and the National Institutes of Health (anthrax toxins).

From 2015-2016, she was an assistant professor at Frostburg State University, where she taught general microbiology lecture and lab and freshman biology, and led students in a research collaboration with the NIH.  From 2016-2018, as a PI at the USDA’s National Animal Disease Center in Iowa, she led research on the dissemination of the bacteria that cause brucellosis in livestock, and traveled to India in 2017 to teach about proteins and disease as an Indo-US Professor. 

Currently, Cathy is an R&D scientist in industry, developing and validating immunoassays for clinical trials, with areas of focus in large-molecule therapeutics, cell and gene therapy, and infectious disease. Since 2012, Cathy’s Engaged Scientist project has delivered trainings in the nuts and bolts of outreach to scientists and provided support for junior scientists in outreach. Her 30 publications include work in basic and veterinary microbiology, education research, and outreach & volunteer management. 

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