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Ashley Vargo


I took a circuitous path to the field of biology, but the first time that I saw a live plant cell under the microscope and froze as I watched the continuous flux of cytoplasmic streaming and the bright green chloroplasts that seemed to vibrate with life, I knew that I'd made the right choice. Since then, biology labs have become places where, as Fitzgerald might say, I am consistently confronted with sights commensurate to my capacity for wonder.

In my final year at Texas A&M University, I worked under the supervision of a postdoctoral researcher as we sought to characterize the production of a small molecule found in gram-negative bacteria called enterobacterial common antigen (ECA). With its role in maintaining the stability of the outer membrane—the very membrane that gives gram-negative bacteria an intrinsic resistance to many antibiotics—information about ECA production will likely prove to be clinically important. At A&M, I also had the opportunity to work for the School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, where I interviewed veterinary professors and oversaw the weekly Pet Talk column, providing information to pet owners on anything from chronic pain in pets to whether it’s all right for dogs to eat acorns.

I’ve been very lucky to have been able to maintain the simultaneous dreams of being both a biologist and a science communicator. Now, as a recent graduate with a B.S. in Molecular & Cell Biology, I’m grateful to explore the world of science communication with AAAS and continue keeping both career paths alive.


Woman with curly hair and glasses

Texas A&M University

Fellowship Sponsor: American Society of Plant Biologists

Fellowship Host: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch