I was born and raised in Ponce, a small beach town in the southern part of Puerto Rico – with constant access to nature in all its beauty. I grew up in a small farm where I became fascinated by the genetics of animal breeding. I started college at the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico and fell in love with life and the biochemical forces that shape everything that surrounds us.

I relocated to the USA mainland for graduate school shortly after finishing my undergraduate degree and decided to continue my scientific journey in the area. Throughout my career, my research background has been primarily centered on studying the cell biology of cellular protein transport in diverse contexts and model organisms. These range from identifying cellular protein trafficking pathways to the specific targeting these routes, commonly hijacked by viruses, as a means to control viral spread.

Efra and his Ph.D. advisor Dr. Barbara Sherry at NCSU (2016)

My passion lies in science communication and promoting healthier environments for the development of future academics. My goal is to inspire the next generation of professionals to become fascinated by life and to learn how to better communicate their discipline. Classical science education curricula fails at introducing science as a continuously-evolving discipline and most students are rarely exposed to the diverse careers that exist within the scientific realm. I use Twitter (@NakedCapsid) as a platform to connect and engage with the community and openly discuss current topics, particularly in virus-host interactions, communicating science, and the academic setting.

My advice to you? Be open-minded and flexible. Sometimes life pulls you in ways you never imagined and letting yourself go every now and then can be extremely rewarding.

Personal Fun Facts? I am a huge fan of tattoos, love long-distance running, I am a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), nature is my passion, I was the only non-Christian student at my alma mater, and absolutely adore dogs (I am the proud dad of six rescue mutts.)

For more info, see my recent interview with eLife and the Journal of Cell Biology!