From Pandemic to Purpose: Hampton University Grad Shane Taylor’s Ascent to Immunology Inspired by COVID-19


Aims to Impact Public Health with a Career in Vaccine Development

From Pandemic to Purpose: Hampton University Grad Shane Taylor’s Ascent to Immunology Inspired by COVID-19

Hampton University Grad, Shane Taylor, in the lab.
Hampton University Grad, Shane Taylor, in the lab.

From Pandemic to Purpose: Hampton University Grad Shane Taylor’s Ascent to Immunology Inspired by COVID-19

Shane Taylor graduated the top biology student in the Hampton University School of Science.
Shane Taylor graduated the top biology student in the Hampton University School of Science.

Hampton, Va., June 17, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — At Hampton University, Shane Taylor stands for having the third highest GPA within the School of Science, (the top student in the Department of Biology) and also for his profound dedication to immunological research, a passion ignited during the unsettling days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Taylor’s journey through the pandemic has shaped his academic and career aspirations, leading him towards a future in vaccine development.

Originally from Prince George’s County, MD, Taylor was deeply impacted by the global health crisis during what he refers to as his “COVID class” experience. His freshman year transitioned entirely online due to the pandemic, and further sparked his interest in the intricacies of immunology and the pivotal role of vaccines in public health.

Taylor’s interest in science isn’t new. His first publication as a co-author came during his freshman year at Hampton, stemming from high school research. The paper, led by his mentor Dr. Mark Berk, focused on the neurological effects of HIV in pediatric patients. “The reduced neuronal population of the dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex in HIV infected individuals” explores how HIV degrades neurons in children infected by their mothers, affecting their developing behaviors.

“The COVID-19 pandemic heavily influenced my decision to study immunology,” Taylor shared. “It inspired me that researchers had been preparing for potential outbreaks for decades. What most saw as a swift development of COVID vaccines was the culmination of years of prepared work.

“I chose Hampton University because of the strong biology program and Hampton’s U Rise program,” said Taylor. “Through U Rise, I have attended and presented at conferences across the country, gaining the tools necessary for my doctoral studies.” Hampton University’s U Rise program provides extensive research opportunities and supports students aiming for Ph.D.’s or M.D.-Ph.D.’s.

“Shane has been a standout student in our School of Science, consistently demonstrating a deep commitment to advancing his knowledge towards challenging issues in STEM,” said Isi Ero-Johnson, Ph., dean, Hampton University School of Science. “His proactive approach to research and his passion for immunology are commendable. As he moves forward to Dartmouth, we wish him innovative solutions to the challenges in vaccine development and disease prevention.”

In the fall, Taylor will attend Dartmouth College to focus on immunology, specifically targeting infectious diseases and the immune responses they trigger. “At Dartmouth, researchers have laid a critical foundation for mRNA vaccines, including the COVID vaccine,” said Taylor, underscoring the importance of continuing this innovative work.

Beyond academics, Taylor has been an active member of the Hampton community. His involvement in the Hampton University Marching Force brought him life-long friendships and afforded him opportunities and unique experiences like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York and traveling to Rome for performances.

Reflecting on his time at Hampton, Taylor said he appreciates the tight-knit community at Hampton and the preparation it provided him to thrive in any environment.

“Hampton taught me that I am my biggest advocate and that It’s crucial to be resilient, determined, and to hold oneself to a higher standard,” said Taylor. “Because of my time here at Hampton, learning from and working with top-notch faculty/scientists, I know that I am prepared to thrive in any environment during my career.

As Shane Taylor looks to the future, his goals are clear: to advance the field of immunology and develop vaccines that combat diseases like HIV, influenza, and COVID-19. His journey reflects the embodies Hampton University’s standard of excellence and an unwavering commitment to the betterment of our global community.


Hampton University, a dynamic historically Black institution with a legacy of excellence in education, research, and community service, provides a nurturing and empowering environment for students to thrive academically and personally. Founded in 1868, Hampton emphasizes a scientific and professional curriculum with a strong liberal arts undergirding, offering a broad range of technical, liberal arts and graduate degree programs. With a commitment to inclusion and innovation, Hampton continues to be a beacon of educational leadership in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Named “Best Private College” in Virginia, HU is a tightly-knit community of learners and educators representing 49 states and 35 territories and nations. With a commitment to fostering intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and global citizenship, Hampton University prepares students to thrive in an ever-changing world. Visit


CONTACT: Sarita Scott Hampton University, Office of University Relations 7577275253 [email protected] 

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