Congratulations to Angelica Escoto, who has won the 2022 Molecular and Cellular Biology Outstanding Graduate Student Award in Teaching. “I am very excited and happy. I hope that this award will make me more competitive for my future teaching career.”
Angelica came to the University of Arizona after completing her Bachelors in biological and ecological sciences from Northern Arizona University. During undergrad, she had begun tutoring and noticed how much she enjoyed teaching. She came to UArizona for her graduate work and started with the Arizona Biological and Biomedical Sciences (ABBS) Program where she rotated through several labs before joining Dr. Joyce Schroeder’s lab in MCB.
“I like the environment of MCB. It was very obvious that the department encourages teaching and mentoring. That was one of the biggest reasons that I chose MCB as my department, ” said Angelica.
As part of the Schroeder Lab, Angelica studies triple-negative breast cancer. “We're trying to understand the biology so that we can successfully develop therapeutic targets. Triple-negative is not easy to target because it lacks a lot of the molecular markers that we usually use for targeting breast cancer. My part of the project looks at inflammation and how the immune system is involved. I am very interested in understanding how cancer cells communicate with immune cells in the tumor microenvironment and how that contributes to the overall progression of the disease.”
As Angelica has progressed through her graduate work, she has continually been involved in teaching others. “I train and mentor undergraduate students that come into our lab. That is something that I have really enjoyed because it allows me to not only communicate my science but gives me those skills to teach another person what I am doing.”
Outside of the lab, Angelica continues to be involved in the ABBS program through mentoring. “I help mentor the incoming ABBS students or offer help and advice to second-year students who are stressed about comprehensive exams. I try to find little opportunities here and there. I really enjoy it.”
One thing that Angelica is passionate about is diversity and inclusion in science. “I enjoy having conversations with MCB faculty about bringing in a diversity of students. It is something that's important and these conversations make me realize that we can actually do something about it. I always feel like I am heard, and they consider my ideas.”
Angelica is starting to think about the next steps in her career. “In the future, I would really like to have a teaching faculty position at a university. I just learned about a teaching postdoc where you have your own research project, but during those years you are also teaching and building curriculum.”
“In a teaching position, I want to continue in molecular biology and maybe incorporate some of the cancer biology and immunobiology that I am working on for my research. I’m excited about all the possibilities in creating a course that involves all of that.”
Angelica’s advice to new students is to “take it day by day.”
“When I first started, I took a lot in and already started worrying about things that weren’t going to happen yet. For example, I was worried about my comprehensive exams during my first year, and those don’t take place until your second year. That overwhelmed me. In mentoring, I always tell students to acknowledge that those things are coming up but focus on what is happening now.”
Outside of school, Angelica has recently started trail running as a way to reduce stress. She also practices a martial art called Kendo, that she playfully calls “Japanese sword fighting.” Additionally, she enjoys hiking and birdwatching.