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Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? And where did you do your undergrad?

Abby at the GRC in Italy
Abigail (Ballard) Kordeliski at the GRC in Italy

I am from central Oklahoma. I studied biochemistry and political science as an undergrad at Austin College—a small liberal arts school in north Texas. Austin College has around 1,500 students so I knew moving to a large university with a substantial research program would be a big change, but UNC has been an amazing new academic home.

Why did you choose UNC specifically?

When I came for my interview weekend at UNC it was apparent how passionate the scientist across campus were about their work. However, in our conversations they were also discussing their lives outside of lab and seemed to live very balanced lives. Mostly, everyone seemed very happy with their work and were very kind to other people. Also, Chapel Hill is a great place to live with lots of nature and community.

Bergmeier lab at the 2022 BCBP Retreat
Bergmeier lab at the 2022 BCBP Retreat

What are you studying for your PhD?

In the Bergmeier lab we study platelets, which are anucleate blood cells that are responsible for stopping bleeding after vascular injury. I study how platelets support the production of fibrin; a protein essential to preventing rebleeding after the initial hemostatic plug stops the bleeding. I am particularly interested in how small GTPase proteins regulate this process. I use a combination of intravital imaging and various in in vitro techniques to probe this question. We developed a novel 4-D imaging system of hemostatic plug formation recently released for preprint on Biorxiv—check it out (

What would you advise the new students starting their PhD journey?

Abby Running the Oklahoma City Marathon
Abby running the Oklahoma City Marathon

My advice would be to take the PhD journey one step at a time. It can feel incredibly daunting if you think about everything you must do to graduate, but if you just focus on the work in front of you, it will all feel more manageable. It is also important to cultivate tangible goals outside of lab. There will be highs and lows in the lab, and it is very grounding on hard days to have goals outside of lab.

What are some highlights of your PhD journey?

One of the best parts of my PhD journey has been sharing my excitement for science with younger students both through work with Shadow a Scientist and mentoring students in lab. I was also very excited to receive F31 from the national heart, lung, and blood institute to support my work. One very cool event of my PhD journey was attending the GRC for platelet and megakaryocyte cell biology in Italy. It was an incredible experience to get to meet so many platelet scientists from around the world.

What are your hobbies outside of the lab?

I love to run and crochet! I ran the Oklahoma City marathon last year, and I am looking forward to running the Tobacco Trail marathon in March. I enjoy all the wonderful greenways and running trails in and around Chapel Hill. I learned to crochet during the COVID lockdowns and since then I have so enjoyed making gifts for family and friends. I am currently working on Christmas stockings!