A first-generation college student gives back to other young people


Growing up in Greenville Michigan, Shelby Kasto was a curious girl but she had little exposure to STEM fields and no opportunity to learn about careers in science.   Her interests came into focus when she took biology courses at Central Wyoming College and realized that people working in laboratories were behind everything that she was learning.  Shelby came to Wayne State to complete her BS and begin a PhD in the Department of Biological Sciences.  As an undergraduate she joined the Pile laboratory and used molecular techniques, such as immunostaining and quantitative real time PCR, to investigate gene regulation.  She also began working at BlueWillow Biologics in Ann Arbor.  This company is developing technology to combat infectious diseases.  Shelby grew viruses and studied the response of the immune system to infection.  Her experiences in industry not only introduced her to details of infection and immunity, but also to the regulatory landscape of industry and commercialization.  

A third year PhD candidate in the Higgs laboratory, Shelby is now making excellent progress studying bacterial signaling pathways that control cell fate segregation in biofilms.  She intends to apply her training to a career in sustainability research in an academic or industry setting.  In the meanwhile, Shelby is participating in community outreach and is particularly interested in talking to young people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to meet a scientist and learn about careers in science. Outside of science, Shelby started, owns, and operates a small E-commerce business. Shelby is also a community advocate for the construction of electric vehicle charging infrastructures through promoting policy changes. 

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