We are excited to welcome Alexa Avecilla to the Lab as a PhD student. Check out the short interview below to learn more about Alexa’s research experience and diverse interests.
What is your training/research background?
Overall, I would describe my research background as being quite diverse. My background is primarily in immunoengineering with some drug delivery applications, specifically projects that focus on modulation of the immune response. Prior to my studies in the Quiroz lab, I trained with Dr. Susan N. Thomas at the Georgia Institute of Technology in probing the synergistic effects of small molecule inhibitor drugs and lymph node-targeted immune checkpoint blockade on lymphatics and immune cell activation in the context of BRAF-mutated melanoma. While at the University of Florida, I completed my undergraduate honors thesis under the guidance of Dr. Ben Keselowsky to characterize the binding of Galectin-3 protein in skin tissues for future applications in localized drug delivery of protein therapeutics. Aside from immunoengineering, I also have some experience with working in clinical research under Dr. Anthony Gregg at the University of Florida and in tissue engineering under Dr. Rashid Bashir as an alum of the Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems (EBICS) REU program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Why did you choose to join the Quiroz Lab at GT/Emory BME?
As a biomedical engineer by training, I value the creativity and ingenuity necessary to use biology to solve problems that are pervasive in the medical field. I think biomedical engineering is fascinating in the sense that we as scientist engineers can integrate non-natural functions into biological systems which offer significant advantages of responsiveness and adaptation over their rigid, mechanical counterparts. I chose to join the Quiroz lab where I can use this creativity to the fullest extent and have a hand in designing new and exciting tools by harnessing the range of complex behaviors that arise in the assembly of fundamental biological building blocks such as proteins. I’m excited to get to work!
When you are not doing research, what do you like to do?
When I am not doing research, I enjoy going to concerts, wandering through art museums, reading books in my hammock, and attempting (successfully, so far) to not burn my house down while cooking. I also really like learning new skills so I can level up as a person. For example, I recently picked up longboarding and I am going to tackle roller skates next. Hopefully I won’t fall down too often, but these activities are a great metaphor for life if you think about it.
Wallace H. Coulter Dept. of Biomedical Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University