Originally from Mexico City, I grew up in the Seattle area and completed my undergraduate degrees at the University of Washington. Through a Howard Hughes Medical Institute summer research internship at Harvard Medical School, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in microbiology. In that short summer in Dr. Matthew K. Waldor's lab mentored by Dr. Simon Ringaard, I spent hours at the microscope trying to understand how a bacterium (Vibrio parahaemolyticus) ensures that its offspring (daughter cells) each receive the ability to sense the chemicals around them (chemotaxis protein clusters).

 

With a newfound love for microbes, I went on to complete my PhD as an HHMI Gilliam Fellow in Dr. Karine Gibbs' lab at Harvard University, studying how a specific bacterium (Proteus mirabilis) is able to distinguish its genetic relatedness  to its direct neighbor, being able to discriminate between a cell that is its "cousin" from one that is its "sibling".

 

I am fascinated by how organisms who cannot rely on senses or memory are able to differentiate self vs non-self at the molecular and cellular level and relay that information to different outputs. With that passion, I became a Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Christopher Johnston's lab, studying innate genetic defenses that bacteria utilize to recognize self vs non-self DNA. Bacteria use these systems to protect themselves from foreign nucleic acids, including human-made DNA (like plasmids). By applying synthetic microbiology techniques, we create tailor-made genetic toolkits to bypass these defenses. I aim to make such toolkits for a colorectal tumor-associated bacterium (Fusobacterium nucleatum) to study and understand its role in disease. 

In addition to my postdoctoral work, I serve as a board member, community engagement committee chair, and education and outreach committee member for SoundBio Lab (DIY/Makerspace devoted to equitable access to the life sciences). I also previously served as a board member and community co-chair for Hutch United (internal Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center employee organization devoted to the support of marginalized and historically underrepresented scientists).

When I have free time, I am often enjoying time with my dogs, cheering on the Sounders/Seahawks/Huskies, or reading a good book.

EDUCATION & EXPERIENCE

2019-present

Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Vaccines and Infectious Disease Division

Advisor: Dr. Christopher Johnston

2012

PhD in Biochemistry

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Gilliam Fellow

Harvard University

Thesis Title: "Molecular Mechanism for Targeting a Self-Identity Protein to the Type VI System in Proteus mirabilis"

Advisor: Dr. Karine Gibbs

2011

Howard Hughes Medical Institute EXROP Intern

Harvard Medical School

Advisor: Dr. Matthew K. Waldor, Dr. Simon Ringgaard

2008

B.S. Biochemistry

B.S. Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology

University of Washington

Advisor: Dr. Merrill B. Hille

HONORS & AWARDS

Fellowships & Awards

2020- 2023

2019

2012-2018

2017

2015

2013

2011-2012

2011

2010

Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship

Interdisciplinary Training in Cancer Research Postdoctoral Fellowship (awarded but not accepted)

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Gilliam Fellowship (one of nine recipients)

American Society for Microbiology Travel Award

Simmons' Award (internal funding for use of Harvard University's Microscopy Facility)

Nomination for Peralta Prize (awarded to MCB student for best candidacy exam)

Ronal E. McNair Research Scholarship

American Society of Cell Biology Minority Affairs Committee Travel Award

Mary Gates Research Scholar

 

Teaching & Science Outreach

2021

2019,2020

2016-2018

2016,2017

2016,2017

2014

2013

SoundBio Lab Teens Teaching Teens Mentor

GEMS (Girls in Engineering and Math) Mentor

Teaching Fellow for Harvard University Life Sciences Outreach Program

Teaching Fellow for Summer Explorations Program Harvard Ed Portal

Course Instructor, Clubes de Ciencia Bolivia

Teaching Fellow for Microbes in Disease & Environment (Instructor K.A. Gibbs)

Teaching Fellow for Life and Physical Sciences A (Instructors T. Brenner, G. Tucci)

 

Leadership

2020-

2020-

2020-

2020-2022

SoundBio Lab Community Engagement Committee Chair

SoundBio Lab Education & Outreach Committee Member

SoundBio Lab Board Member

Hutch United Board Member | Community Committee Co-Chair