Student spotlight: Linda Archambault

Hometown: Bristol, Maine

Linda Archambault, a biochemistry Ph.D. candidate, works in UMaine associate professor of microbiology Rob Wheeler’s lab. Last summer, she was selected as a teaching assistant for an internationally recognized practical course on fungal infectious diseases at the Marine Biological Laboratory and received the 2018–19 Janet Waldron Doctoral Research Fellowship. Archambault earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Bates College and worked for a year at the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole, Massachusetts before earning a master’s degree at Boston University in 1986. After taking a hiatus from science to start a family, Archambault worked at The Lobster Conservancy and Bates before coming to UMaine.

“I was a curious child, especially about the natural world. I grew up on a farm and spent most of my time outdoors in the fields, vineyard and woods. Studying science is the most natural thing I could do. The pertinent question isn’t what drives me now, it’s what held me back until now — my belief that I couldn’t do what I’m doing now, that I wasn’t capable or that I wouldn’t be allowed to. The motivation has always been there. Working with women at The Lobster Conservancy and at Bates restored my faith in myself. They trusted me to do the work and were happy with the work I did. My love of science flourished. At UMaine, I use zebrafish as a model organism to study how our immune system responds to fungal infections. Because the zebrafish is transparent, we are able to make images of the interactions between fluorescently labeled Candida fungal cells, epithelial cells and immune cells in the live fish over the course of several hours of infection. One of the most intriguing aspects of these interactions is the question of signaling between epithelial cells and immune cells. The answers may inspire us to find new ways to help combat fungal infection in vulnerable patients. Here at UMaine I’ve learned so much — the science, of course, but also so much about myself and what it takes to succeed. The very best thing is to be taken seriously as a scientist.”