Paloma  Vargas

Paloma Vargas, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biology and Director, Hispanic-Serving Institute Initiatives
Ahmanson Science Center, 126

Office Hours: Summer 2019- Not available


Paloma Vargas is an Assistant Professor of Biology and the Director of Hispanic-Serving Institute (HSI) Initiatives.

Paloma worked on her undergraduate degree at the El Paso Community College (EPCC) and received her B.S. in Biology from the University of Texas at El Paso. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Medical and Molecular Parasitology from The Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at New York University where she studied proteins involved in post-transcriptional and post-translational regulation of the parasitic amoeba Entamoeba histolytica. Upon completion of her doctoral work, Paloma followed her passion for teaching to her native Texas where she taught at EPCC and at a local high school.

Paloma returned to the bench a little over a year later as a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University in Chicago where she studied the role of Legionella pneumophila's (Lpn) type 2 secretion system in amoebic infection. Paloma then moved to Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) as a STEM Specialist leading STEM outreach efforts, and providing holistic advising and professional development to students in the Student Center for Science Engagement (SCSE).Most recently, Paloma served as Science Coordinator for NEIU's Center for College Access and Success where she led STEM initiatives, developed curriculum and professional development for teachers under the GEAR UP program. She also spearheaded University-wide STEM grant writing efforts, specifically the Title III, HSI STEM grant received by NEIU in 2016. 

Paloma's research interests include post-transcriptional and post-translational modifications of Entamoeba and hosts of Lpn. She is also interested in the impact of co-curricular experiences on Latinx and other underrepresented students. More broadly, Paloma is interested in infectious disease, host-parasite interactions, STEM education, undergraduate research, holistic advising, citizen science and 3-D printing.

As Director of HSI Initiatives, Paloma's work on campus focuses on being the liaison between all departments and divisions at Cal Lutheran on issues of equity and accessibility. Her goal is to address issues of justice, equity, and access in higher education for traditionally underrepresented groups (Latino/a, Black, 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 is an alumn of the Linton-Poodry SACNAS Leadership Institute.  

Outside of CLU Paloma enjoys spending time hiking with her dog (Riley), working out, &  finding new places for good food


El Paso Community College (71 hours completed)

B.S., Biology,  University of Texas, El Paso, 2005

M.S., Molecular Parasitology, New York University School of Medicine, 2008

Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences (Medial and Molecular Parasitology), New York University School of Medicine, 2010

Postdoctoral Training, NU- Select Teaching and Reserach Training Program, Northwestern University, 2011-2013



STEM Outreach and Education

Equity Issues in Higher Education

Medical and Molecular Parasitology


Host-parasite interactions

Protein biochemistry


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