Caroline Arias, Assistant Professor of Biology at UC Santa Barbara, received the 2021-2022 Harold J. Plous Prize. One of the most prestigious honors of the university faculty, the award is presented annually to an assistant professor of the humanities, social or natural sciences who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in research, teaching and service at University.
The award is presented by the College of Letters and Science and was created to honor the memory of Harold J. Plous, assistant professor of economics. This is the highest distinction that the College of Letters and Sciences can bestow on a young member of the faculty.
“Carolina Arias is a great example of an academic using the tools of her research to help her community,” said Pierre Wiltzius, dean of mathematical, life and physical sciences at UC Santa Barbara. âIts development of rapid COVID-19 tests for our campus has been an essential and invaluable part of our response to the pandemic. Carolina fully deserves this award.
“It is an honor to be congratulated by my colleagues for all the efforts we have put in,” said Arias, who, along with his lab, has been at the forefront of the university’s response to the COVID pandemic. -19. A virologist by training, Arias ‘work was instrumental in the development of the campus’ asymptomatic COVID-19 surveillance program, the creation of a clinical-grade CLIA laboratory for COVID-19 testing, and the development of a SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequencing program and identification of its variants. Through collaborations with other researchers, as well as colleagues from UCSB Student Health Services, Cottage Hospital, and the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, tracking the movements of the virus across campus and the community at large has been activated, and community members are kept up to date with the latest developments.
âThere is so much information to sort through,â Arias said. âI felt that a good use of my time could be to try to figure it out myself, and then pass what I understood to everyone. She is also a member of UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang’s COVID-19 response team.
COVID-19 activity adds to the ongoing research, teaching and mentoring that Arias continues to lead throughout the pandemic, focusing on genomic techniques to discover how viruses are taking control of their host cells.
Arias is originally from Bogota, Colombia, where she received her BA and MA in Microbiology from the Universidad de los Andes. She got her doctorate. in Microbiology at the Sackler Institute for Graduate Biomedical Sciences at New York University in 2008, where she studied virus-host interactions in herpes viruses and poxviruses. As a postdoctoral fellow at UC San Francisco and then at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, she studied the genome-wide transcriptional and translational regulation of the herpesvirus associated with Kaposi’s sarcoma. In January 2016, she performed comprehensive drug screens to identify FDA-approved compounds that could be used to reduce Zika virus infection. Arias joined the faculty of UC Santa Barbara in 2016.