Jamie grew up in eastern Kentucky. After earning a B.A. in linguistics at the University of KY, she made her way to Boston out of a love of clam chowder, old buildings, and the kids’ show, Zoom. While working as an underling at Harvard, she took advantage of their tuition assistance benefit to obtain her master’s degree, writing a thesis that blended her love of Russian, biology, and science history. She then developed an interest in endogenous retroviruses while working with retroviral vectors in a gene therapy lab, leading her to pursue a Ph.D. in the lab of John Coffin at Tufts University, where she focused on the evolution of retroviral envelope proteins.
In the Johnson lab, she is exploring the evolutionary dynamics between viruses, with their rapid mutation rates and small genomes, and their sluggishly mutating, large-genomed hosts.
When not in the lab, she might be running, reading, enjoying ice cream, or picking at a banjo.