Student Spotlight: Julia Paoli

Fall 2020

Julia Paoli is a Senior at the University of Florida in the Emerging Scholars Program. On campus, she is a Stamps Scholar and a member of NaviGators International and the UF Honors Program. Her research project is entitled: Generation of Antibody Escape Variants for AAV3B. Below are a summary of Julia’s project, experience with research, and plan for the future.

Summary of Research Project: AAV is a non-pathogenic virus used in viral vector gene therapy treatments. However, AAV’s potential as a vector is limited by the high percentage of the human population who exhibit pre-existing host immunity against the AAV capsid. My objective is to generate antibody escape mutants for serotype AAV3B.

When did you get started in undergraduate research? Freshman year

How has your research experience shaped your undergraduate career? I developed a passion for virology research and learned a tremendous amount in lab. In Dr. Agbandje-McKenna’s lab, I have grown as a scientist and as a person. My positive experience in research lab has inspired me to pursue a PhD in virology.

What advice would you give someone interested in undergraduate research? The learning curve for research can feel steep at times and not every experiment goes according to plan. Don’t feel discouraged by failure, but take it as a learning experience. Feel free to ask your mentor questions, speaking up is the best way to learn.

What are your plans for the future? I plan to apply for a Master’s in Epidemiology and a PhD in virology.