14 March 2024 • STEM Kliesch '25 Interns at Pfizer

An internship at Pfizer for Payton Kliesch ‘25 has grown her passion for immunology research. 

Payton Kliesch ’25 studied E. coli neutralization assay while learning and assisting researchers in a lab at Pfizer in the Clinical Diagnostic Assay Development Department. During the work, she determined the correct principles of neutralizing and stabilizing the bacteria to detect proteins within it.

“I was able to create and conduct my own experiments and work independently while also helping the team, which was an incredible opportunity for me,” says Kliesch, a biology and psychological science double major. “I wasn’t sure what to expect and it was a little bit nerve-racking because I didn’t know if I would like it, but I ended up expanding my field of interest and that was really cool.”

Interested in vaccine research, Kliesch applied to the internship and became more passionate about the field, specifically how it intersects with neuroscience during the experience. She is conducting an independent study focused on immunology under the direction of Assistant Professor of Psychological Science Elizabeth Belcher and is examining immune therapies for cancer patients and their effect on mental health. 

“I try to take advantage of the opportunities that we have here at HWS to experience things from different lenses,” says Kliesch, who hopes to get more lab research experience and opportunities in neuroscience next year. 

On campus, Kliesch plays drums in the Jazz Ensemble and is a member of the Public Leadership Education Network. She studied marine and terrestrial ecology while abroad in Queensland, Australia in 2022. 

Top: Payton Kliesch '25 talks with Assistant Professor of Psychological Science Elizabeth Belcher during "Biopsychology."