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Meet Andrea Sánchez Peña

Andrea Sanchez Pena
Date: Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Name of graduate program: Microbiology and Immunology

Undergraduate institution: University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus

Hometown: Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico

Why did you choose the University of Iowa to pursue your graduate degree?

Before coming to Iowa for my graduate degree, I had the opportunity to participate in the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program that the Microbiology and Immunology Department offers. It was then when I witnessed the dynamic and multi-faceted research being carried out at the University of Iowa. That is one of the main reasons I decided to pursue my graduate studies at Iowa.

What type of research are you performing?

My research is emphasized in studying polymicrobial interactions in cystic fibrosis (CF) lung infections. With the overall goal of understanding the mechanisms that drive these interactions in order to modulate these microbial communities and improve patient outcomes.

What do you hope to do after you earn your degree?

After I earn my degree, I want to continue working towards improving CF patients’ lives by making novel therapeutics to clear CF lung infections.

What is something that surprised you about the University of Iowa or your graduate program?

The general camaraderie among the scientists in the department, which creates an environment conducive to learning.

What is your favorite part about being a graduate student?

The thrill of always being in the hunt of the unknown. It is exciting to come to work every day knowing that your research forms part of something greater. And the rewarding feeling that your research will hopefully help improve the lives of many patients.

Who is your biggest role model and why?

My mom because despite having gone through difficult moments during her life, she stayed strong and always continued moving forward; setting the best example for my sister and I.

What are some of your personal interests?

I enjoy going to the movie theater, I love dogs, and trying new restaurants.

A piece of advice for incoming graduate students.

Be perseverant and when things go wrong and you feel like quitting, remember why you started and how much you desire to be where you are. Remember to stay connected and get to know people within your department and from other departments as well. Always read actively about your area of research, but also about different areas.