Virus Investigators

Superpowered by Electron Microscopy

Have you ever wondered how scientists stop the viruses that can make us sick?

Meet Adam to learn why this kind of research matters to us all today, and then join the Virus Investigators and use tools to find a sneaky virus, with a goal to improve lives through science. Grab your science notebook to take notes as you go and then share your discoveries with others!

Learn Why Research Matters

When COVID-19 reached Wisconsin in early 2020, Madison-area firefighter and EMT Adam Perez didn’t know how his community would be affected. Viewer warning: this video references the existence of COVID-19 related deaths, and the footage contains reenactments of treatments from an EMT.

View Transcript

Questions to Consider:


Adam talks about the uncertainty that he felt when trying to stay safe and care for other people, not knowing what the virus would do. What did you think or feel about the COVID-19 virus when you first learned about it? What are the ways that you learned to adapt?


To help communities battle the coronavirus and other serious viruses that can make people sick, first we need to understand what “machinery” viruses have, and how they work. What do you already know about viruses? What do you want to know about viruses?

“Science has just done so much. When you start to open up your mind to some of the things that we have been capable of in history, it’s quite amazing.”

— Adam Perez

Meet The Scientists

Read about the scientists, then flip over the cards to learn more (and discover their secret superpower!) Who do you relate to the most?

There are 4 cards to read.

Paul Ahlquist, Principal Investigator
Paul Ahlquist
Principal Investigator

I lead the John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Center for Research in Virology at the Morgridge Institute. We work on understanding viruses, viral diseases, and related biology to develop more effective antiviral controls.

Nuruddin Unchwaniwala, Postdoctoral Research Associate
Nuruddin Unchwaniwala
Postdoctoral Research Associate

I modify and use specialized microscopes to understand how viruses make new copies of their genetic material.

Megan Bracken, Senior Research Specialist
Megan Bracken
Senior Research Specialist

I look at how the Hepatitis B virus tries to counteract the immune system.

Andrea Rebolledo Viveros, Assistant Research Specialist
Andrea Rebolledo Viveros
Assistant Research Specialist

I work on understanding the structure and formation of a virus replication protein. Once we understand this, we may be able to use that information to find broad antiviral targets!

Icon depicting a line drawing of a human head with brain activity inside a hexagon shape

What’s your superpower?

Use this fillable PDF template to create your own scientist trading card.


Learn About the Lab

Scientist answering questions
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Ask a

Ever wonder what scientists do every day, or what kind of equipment they use in their lab? Here’s your chance to ask them! Explore responses from members of the John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Center for Research in Virology to learn more about what doing scientific research is really like!

Do Science!

Scientist logging data in notebook
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Science Practices Activity

Lab researcher Nuruddin is searching for a virus that has infected a cell. Can you help him track it down AND find where it stored the instructions for making copies of itself?

Project Credits

Ryan Hendricks

Ryan Hendricks

Ryan Hendricks

Catie Pfeifer

Norman Yuson Cuaño
John Vieth
Tim Schneider

Charles Barrows
Jen Hadley
Amanda Roslansky
Scott Stetson

Science Education Consultant
Wesley Marner II, PhD, MIR

Educator Guide and Activities
Mia Forslund
Johan den Boon, PhD
Ryan Hendricks
Nuruddin Unchwaniwala, PhD

Thanks to our participating scientists
Paul Ahlquist, PhD
Johan den Boon, PhD
Nuruddin Unchwaniwala, PhD
Megan Bracken
Andrea Rebolledo Viveros
Hong Zahn, PhD

Project Partners
Morgridge Institute for
Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation
Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Center for Research in Virology

Executive Producer
Megan Monday

Director of Education
Alyssa Tsagong

Director of Television
Jon Miskowski

Educator Cohort

Joy Aragones
The Prairie School
Wind Point, WI

Kathy Biernat
Notre Dame School of Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI

Jessica Buckley
Wedgewood Park Middle School
Milwaukee, WI

Lisa Graf
Merrill Middle School
Oshkosh, WI

Aimee Spahos
Waunakee Intermediate School
Waunakee, WI

Emily Watton
West Allis Central High School
West Allis, WI

Funding Provided By

Timothy William Trout Education Fund
a gift of Monroe and Sandra Trout

Focus Fund for Education

Friends of PBS Wisconsin