Paloma Vargas, Ph.D.

AVP Conference

Council Term: 2018-2021

California Lutheran University

Assistant Professor of Biology and the Director of Hispanic-Serving Institute (HSI) Initiatives

Dr. Paloma Vargas is an Assistant Professor of Biology and the Director of Hispanic-Serving Institute (HSI) Initiatives at California Lutheran University, a small liberal arts college in southern California. Paloma attended El Paso Community College and obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas El Paso in 2005. After completing her M.S. and Ph.D. in Medical and Molecular Parasitology with a focus on molecular biology and biochemistry from The Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at New York University, Paloma taught in her hometown of El Paso.  In 2011, Paloma was awarded an IRACDA fellowship to complete her postdoctoral work at Northwestern University in Chicago, studying the role of type 2 secretion in Legionella infection. Paloma served as a STEM Specialist and Coordinator at Northeastern Illinois University advising students and developing grant initiatives & STEM curriculum at the Student Center for Science Engagement and the Center for College Access and Success, respectively. Paloma’s research interests include post-transcriptional and post-translational regulation host-pathogen interactions, STEM Education, and development of HSIs.

As Director of HSI Initiatives, Paloma’s work at Cal Lutheran focuses on being the liaison between all departments and divisions on issues of equity and accessibility. Her goal is to address issues of justice, equity, and access in higher education for traditionally underrepresented groups (Latinx, Black/African American, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans). Much of her area of focus as Director of HSI is in breaking down systemic barriers & policies that disproportionately affect the success of underrepresented groups within the higher education system. Paloma is an active member of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Latinos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and the American Society for Microbiologists.