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Get to Know a Scientist: Kizzmekia Corbett

Get to Know a Scientist: Kizzmekia Corbett


This week, you became more familiar with how COVID-19 affects our bodies and communities. While things may still look bleak, the FDA has granted emergency use authorization to several vaccines to combat COVID-19. One type of vaccine that has been developed is an RNA-based vaccine. In this week’s Get to Know a Scientist assignment, you will learn a little bit about RNA-based vaccines and about Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett and her contribution to developing Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

First, watch the following video that provides a brief explanation of the mechanism behind Moderna’s RNA-based COVID-19 vaccine:

Video Credit: How does Moderna’s Coronavirus vaccine work? (Links to an external site.) by The Telegraph (Links to an external site.) | Duration: 1 minute 34 seconds

Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a viral immunologist, has been working at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to better understand viral immune responses. Dr. Corbett served as the scientific lead for the development of Moderna’s Coronavirus vaccine as you saw above. In addition to her work at the NIH, Dr. Corbett is involved with science communication and public engagement to inspire youth in underserved communities. Dr. Corbett is featured in TIME Magazine’s 2021 TIME 100 Next List (Links to an external site.), which highlights 100 emerging leaders who are trailblazers in their field.

  1. First, read this article from Nature (Links to an external site.) to learn more about Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett’s efforts to combat vaccine hesitancy in communities of color.
  2. Next, watch the video below to hear Dr. Corbett describe her work and learn about how she became the leading scientist on the development of this vaccine:

Video Credit: Meet the scientist on the forefront of COVID-19 vaccine development (Links to an external site.) by CBS This Morning (Links to an external site.) | Duration: 6 minutes 24 seconds

  1. Optional: Take a look at the phase 3 clinical trial results for the Moderna vaccine (Links to an external site.). It includes interesting/important information on how the trial was carried out, participant demographics, and safety analysis (i.e., side effects and adverse reactions).

Assignment Details

After reviewing the videos and articles, write a 300 word or more reflection with your responses to what you saw. Some topics you might wish to discuss include but are not limited to:

  • What was the most interesting or most confusing about the resources you examined?
  • What have you learned about the development of vaccine trials from these articles?
  • What do these resources tell you about the types of people that do science?
  • What new questions do you have after reviewing these resources?


To see how this assignment will be graded, scroll down to view the grading rubric. If no rubric is visible, click on the three dots in the upper right corner of this page, then click “Show Rubric”. If you’re reviewing this assignment using the Canvas mobile app, the rubric is included in the Grade tab.


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