Ilaria Talks About Her Love for Marine Biology

Q. You are a self-proclaimed “science nerd.” Tell us about your current work at the ASU Biodesign Institute.
Under the mentorship of Dr. Arvind Varsani, along with the others who work in Dr. Varsani’s lab I conduct lab work involving an array of plants, animals and insects. The lab as a whole utilizes various techniques to characterize, identify, and understand the dynamics of viruses.

Q. How did you get started working in molecular biology?
Entering into my sophomore year, I found myself intrigued by the world of research science, more specifically marine biology. Because of this, I applied to the Research Scholars program at the University of California San Diego. Upon being accepted into the program I found out I would be working in biochemistry lab working with viroids. The summer was filled with learning, which led to a realization that the lab was my new found ‘happy place.’ Upon my return to Arizona, I contacted the professor who led the program at UCSD. Together we composed emails talking about my experience and passion for science and sent them out to various labs at ASU. I stumbled upon Dr. Arvind Varsani and he graciously accepted me into his virology lab — I have not looked back since!

Q. You are also very involved at school. What campus activities do you participate in?
I am involved in lots of extracurricular activities and clubs. Including, Key Club, National Honor Society, Protecting Our Environment Club, and HeforShe Club. Along with this, I was apart of the Relay for Life leadership team, captain of the soccer team, and have done lots of volunteering this year.

Q. What are we your plans for the future?
I hope to attend a four year university, and graduate with a double major in molecular biology and botany. Way down the road, I hope to receive my PhD in molecular biology and start my own lab.”

Ilaria Cobb is a Junior at Horizon Honors High School.

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