She was specifically interested in how highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses induced extensive damage. These studies led to a faculty position at the Southeast Poultry Research Lab (USDA-ARS) studying HPAI. The timing of the move corresponded to the 1997 HPAI outbreak in humans in Hong Kong.
During her 5 years at the USDA, she was intimately involved in the H5N1 outbreak in terms of diagnostics, epidemiology, surveillance, and pathogenesis and worked closely with the CDC. They were also one of the first laboratories to begin working with turkey pneumovirus; closely related to human metapneumovirus. In 2002, she accepted a tenure-track faculty position at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health where her laboratory continued to focus on pathogenesis. She also identified and characterized a novel antiviral peptide that blocks influenza attachment. Their patent was recently licensed by a small influenza company.
After receiving tenure at Wisconsin, St. Jude offered her a faculty position that she could not refuse. At St. Jude, her laboratory is part of the Center for Excellence in Influenza Research and Surveillance and the World Health Organization Collaborating Center. They are continuing with basic research studies but have also initiated surveillance efforts throughout Latin America.