Camila Garcia majors in Biochemistry at FGCU. Camila works with Dr. Sulekha Coticone on research involving collection and analysis of Low-Copy Number (LCN) DNA found in fingerprints placed on potential murder weapons. Not only does Camila participate in research on campus, but she was also awarded two National Science Foundation Research Experience (NSF REU) for Undergraduate awards. Camila was awarded NSF REU’s with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Camila is an FGCU grad, class of '22, and will be attending Yale University to pursue her PhD in Biochemistry.
Camila is a recipient of the following awards:
National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates, UNC Chapel Hill and the University of Alabama, Birmingham (2020-2021)
Fulbright Research, Ireland (2021-2022)
Gruber Science Fellowship, Yale University (2021-2022)
Millennium Fellowship, Detection and Analysis of DNA from Various Substrates; peace, justice and strong institutions (2021-2022)
How did your mentor(s) encourage and foster your research and academic trajectory?
One of my very first electives at FGCU, as a transfer student, was Forensic Biochemistry taught by Dr. Sulekha Coticone. I was so amazed and interested in this class that I decided to speak with Dr. Coticone and pitch a research idea. Thanks to Dr. Coticone letting me explore research and encouraging me to follow this passion is how I discovered that my original plan of going to medical school wasn’t really what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Many times, I was asked why medical school and my answer was very generic; however, when I was asked what I could not see myself without doing in 5 or 10 years I understood it was research. Having Dr. Coticone as a professor was great but having her as my research mentor has been even better. She’s not only there to offer her extensive knowledge in Biochemistry and Forensic Sciences, but she has also taught me life skills that I will carry with me throughout my professional career. I can’t thank Dr. Coticone enough for guiding and supporting me through this research journey!
What does the OCF mean to you?
Working with the Office of Competitive Fellowships has really been a life changing experience; it has not only opened many opportunities for me, but it has also provided me with a new support system. Thanks to the OCF I’ve realized that there’s lots of opportunities out there that I needed to take advantage of. I can’t thank Dr. Terumi enough for his dedication to helping students with not only applications but also figuring out one of the most challenging things as an undergrad: the next steps after graduation. Dr. Terumi has given me the chance to keep my options open and has encouraged me to gain as much experience as possible from different types of fellowships. This office has really been a highlight of my experience at FGCU, and it has provided me with a community of students where I feel included and encouraged.
What is the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates?
The National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) provides opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in research through REU sites. At REU sites small groups of students collaborate with faculty and other researchers at a host institution. Camila is participating in the NSF REU at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Through this research experience, Camila is investigating point mutations on the SANT domain of the Ada1 protein to further contribute to the understanding of the expression of the genome.