When Cary first attended Mississippi State University for her undergraduate degree, she planned on going to medical school; but after taking a microbiology class, she decided microbiology was vastly more interesting. She then went on to get her masters studying the bovine immunodeficiency virus (BIV) with Dr. Karen St. Cyrcoats in the Department of Microbiology at MSU. She stated that it was there that she officially fell in love with science. Cary’s primary (and current) passion is the study of viruses that are associated with cancer. She went on to get her Ph.D. studying tumor progression in the Epstein-Barr virus infection model in the lab of Dr. John Sixbey at Lousiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC). She then went on to a post-doctoral fellowship in Dr. Lou Laimin’s lab at Northwestern University, studying the life cycle of the Human Papaloma virus (HPV). It was at Northwestern that Cary identified two mechanisms that regulate the productive phase of the HPV life cycle. The first mechanism activates and utilizes caspase activity and the second involves DNA damage response, which together promote productive viral replication. Cary’s work was initially funded through a Post-doctoral fellowship with the American Cancer Society. She then went on to receive a K99 Pathway to Independence Award with the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Cary was then recruited to UNC along with her husband Aaron Martin, who studies diabetes immune responses in the lab of Dr. Roland Tisch (UNC).
Cary’s Lab is continuing her research into how HPV utilizes the damage response to promote viral replication, and she has just hired a lab manager.
Cary’s other passion (besides Aaron and cancer-causing viruses) is running marathons. She has completed seven marathons, including the Boston and Chicago marathons, and has just completed the Raleigh marathon. She also finds time to run between five and seven miles a day. Cary is at heart a Mississippi State Bulldog, and is most vocal in games against Ole Miss.