Biology major Paloma Avila enjoyed spending time in the field, collecting rodents to look for the presence of the parasite Ehrlichia muris. Her senior research project, "Identifying Presence and Prevalence of Ehrlicha muris in Northern Illinois Prairies," was based on that exploration. In 2019, her signature research project was titled "Deactivation of the FGF9 Gene in Ciona intestinalis using CRISPR-cas9" (Stetson Showcase 2019).
Away from research, Avila was instrumental in running the Biology Student Advisory Committee for the past three years. Also, she was a teacher's assistant in genetics, a lead Peer Success Coach and a WISE Leader (a leadership development and mentorship program for underserved populations at Stetson). Further, she was "super organized, prepared and dedicated," according to professors, and was "super patient with the students, especially the ones who needed more help understanding things."
For those reasons and many more, Avila was the Biology Service Award winner.
When not excelling in the lab or out in the field, Avila personified helpfulness, such as educating younger students at Stetson's Gillespie Museum with lessons about geological science and the use of scientific reasoning in experiments.