Valeria Velsaquez-Zapata - Brown Fellowship recipient

April 4, 2019

Valeria is an international student from Colombia. She completed two B.Sc, degrees, including biological engineering at the National University of Colombia and biology at the University of Antioquia in Colombia. After completing her two bachelor degrees, she was awarded the Santander scholarship to a master’s degree in biomedical research at the University of Valladolid in Spain. After that, she got a Fulbright scholarship for her Ph. D. at the Iowa State University where she is currently finishing her third year in the Interdepartmental Bioinformatics and Computational Biology program. Valeria is housed in the Plant Pathology and Microbiology Department where she is working under the mentorship of Dr. Roger Wise. Her research focuses on the characterization of master immune-active protein modules of barley-powdery mildew pathosystem. She is working on the identification of host interactors of Blumeria graminiseffectors using NGS Y2H screens. Her research contributes to a brand-new bioinformatic pipeline that the lab is developing for the analysis of such data and to the experimental validation of the candidate interactors. These analyses will produce a scope of the effector-triggered immune response in barley through the integration of this data with a predicted barley protein-protein interaction network.

            Besides working towards her scientific research career, Valeria has also been actively immersed in outreach and teaching activities, which have been a very rewarding experience that she intends to bring back and implement in her home country, Colombia, upon return. She has participated in the Master-gardener outreach program hosted by the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology (, and she has volunteered in different programming workshops to instruct graduate students at ISU. Furthermore, she runs the outreach events of the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Graduate Student Organization, which impacts hundreds of girls and young women every year. These outreach activities are designed to encourage girls to pursue STEM fields by participating in outreach programs like Taking the Road Less Traveled ( , Science Bound ( ) and Girls in Science ( ).

We congratulate Valeria in her accomplishments and being awarded the prestigious Brown Graduate Fellowship. 

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