Natalie Thompson


I graduated with my B.S. in chemical engineering and a minor in computer science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in 2018. When people ask me, “Why did you become a chemical engineer?”, the easy answer is simply that I was homeschooled, my parents have their doctorates in chemistry, and I loved building things with legos. A more interesting question that I have found is “Why did you STAY in chemical engineering?”. I am a problem solver by nature; in my freetime you can find me putting together 10,000 piece puzzles or looking at broken furniture and trying to fix or repair it. This is one reason why I enjoy doing research in a hard science field. Every project has a problem at its crux, and we don’t yet know how to solve it - a challenge that fascinates me. My other passion is just simply helping people. As scientists, we are dedicated to the betterment of human society, whether that be working to mediate climate change or improve human health through more directed drug targeting. The world is full of problems and people who need to be helped, it’s my life passion to help people by solving problems.

I am currently a PhD Candidate in chemical engineering at PSU, and moving forward I am interested in a career in the pharmaceutical industry with a focus on increasing the efficiency of current processes and pushing the savings onto the consumer.

Departmental Web Page Graduate Student Profile - 2022

Research Project(s)

I started at Penn State with an exciting project about using insect delivered viral vectors to deliver gene therapy to plants in a field with Dr. Wayne Curtis & Dr. Antonios Armaou as my co-advisors. My project focus is specifically focusing on aspects of biocontainment in relation to this new technology. My work focuses on three scientific components: (1) establishing an insect colony to test insecticidal plants & conduct transmission experiments, (2) engineering an approach to halting viral infections when needed, and (3) developing a multi-scale model of this technology that uses bioluminescent testing to verify & inform the system.


PhD Thesis, Fall 2023   Biocontainment of Insect Transmitted Gene Therapy in Plants to Reduce Crop Productivity Losses.  (available online soon)  

Thompson, N., Waterton, N., Armaou, A., Polston, J., & Curtis, W. (2022) Establishing an inexpensive, space efficient colony of Bemisia tabaci MEAM1 utilizing modeling and feedback control principles. Journal of Applied Entomology

Natalie Thompson, David Krum, Yun-Ru Chen, Mariela Torres, Marena Trauger, Dalton Strike, Zachary Weston, Jane Polston, Wayne Curtis.  Enabling biocontained plant virus transmission studies through establishment of axenic whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) colony on plant tissue culture , Research Square.  

2021 ASPB presentation slides (second place presentation award)

2022 ASPB Poster (co-author): Axenic whitefly establishment  

2022 ASPB Poster (co-author): Chesapeake watershed protection using duckweed

2022 ASPB Talk (presenter):  

2022 SIVB Interactive oral Poster (co-author):  Advanced Reporter Gene Development

2022 SIVB Interactive oral Poster (co-author):  In vitro axenic whiteflies for virus transmission study