College Graduates 2020: Kaitlyn Varela

Valera intends to get her PhD from UTSA in biochemistry

SAN ANTONIO – In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic high school and college students have both had to overcome a variety of obstacles.

Kaitlyn Varela is not only graduating from UTSA, but she is going back in the fall to get her PhD in biochemistry.

“I have a passion for it. I really love it. I love learning new things, “ Varela said.

Right now, Varela is working on research that is a combination of biology and chemistry, in the hopes of solving biological problems through chemical processes. Her research is especially important during the pandemic.

“It was, just this whole situation, has been crazy. And it was really surprising to find out that hydroxy chloroquine -- the antimalarial drug -- might be potentially useful, and that they’re looking into it,” Varela said.

But it is not just vaccines and cures Kaitlyn is researching. She is fascinated with natural remedies.

There are lots of natural products in the world and they come from just like plants. Make them or just small tiny organisms will make them. And we can use those in order to help,” she said.

Kaitlyn is continuing her education at UTSA and she hopes to be on the forefront of research.

“I think that getting a PhD is like the next level for me. I just I really love learning and I think I would be very tedious. And I would also like to learn as much as I can in the field of chemistry,” she said.

Kaitlyn is currently doing research on a drug called Artemisinin -- another antimalarial drug like hydrochloroquine -- and she hopes her research helps the world fight against devastating diseases.

" I’d like to continue to learn and focus on natural products and potentially finding cures and to make medicines for people,” she said.

About the Authors

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.

Azian Bermea is a photojournalist at KSAT.

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