Samantha Lopez

Samantha Lopez

Samantha Lopez is a 22-year-old recent Undergraduate Research Fellow and Auburn University Honors College graduate. She received a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and a Bachelor of Arts in French in May 2013. She earned an International Baccalaureate before beginning her studies at Auburn and has received recognition as a National Merit Scholar, National Hispanic Scholar, and Presidential Scholar. In addition to maintaining academic excellence, Samantha was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the AU Marching Band throughout her undergraduate career. She also studied abroad in Paris.

Samantha joined Dr. Leonardo De La Fuente’s lab midway through her junior year. She was quickly recognized as a promising researcher and a quick learner, and she applied for and received a research fellowship in her senior year. Although she was presented with several options for a fellowship project, she bypassed the straightforward, pre-planned projects to choose a more difficult, scientifically risky option. Samantha formulated a research plan that, according to Dr. De La Fuente, was written “in such a clear and accurate way that is well beyond what other undergraduate (or graduate) students are able to do.” By the end of her year-long fellowship, Samantha was training other undergraduate students in the lab.

Samantha Lopez

Samantha’s research was with the Xylella fastidiosa plant bacterium, which causes a variety of diseases in a wide range of host plants, including grape, blueberry, pecan, and citrus, by restricting the movement of water and nutrients throughout the plant. She worked on creating new techniques to mimic the bacterium’s natural environment in the lab in order to study how it proliferates and especially how it adapts to new plant hosts. Samantha’s work during her fellowship made a substantive contribution to her field and in the long term, has helped to advance research to reduce crop losses due to Xylella fastidiosa. She presented her research at the AU Research Week 2013 and won 2 nd place in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics oral presentation competition.

Samantha is currently a Fulbright Research Scholar at the Université libre de Bruxelles in Brussels, Belgium. She believes that her Fulbright grant would not have been possible without her participation in the Undergraduate Research Fellowship program. After completing her program in Belgium, she intends to obtain a doctorate degree and pursue a career in research.

Samantha Lopez

I believe the research program’s emphasis on going to a conference and presenting is one of the most helpful features of the program. My presentation group was mixed hard and social sciences, which pushed me to try and explain a very technical microbiology experiment to a group of people who have never been in a microbiology lab. I won second in STEM oral presentations, and in the process I realized that I want to pursue a career where I can bring science to life for others, which has led to my decision to find a public health graduate program where I can both perform the research I love, but also have opportunities to inform others about what I’m learning. -Samantha Lopez


Last Updated: November 20, 2013