A native from the sunny coasts of Puerto Rico, Roberto grew up in one of the best surfing spots in the island, Isabela. He earned his Bachelor’s in Biomedical Sciences from The University of Puerto Rico-Aguadilla. Not long after, he completed his post-baccalaureate at The Ohio State University in Maize molecular genetics. His fascination with viruses led him to earn his PhD at The University of Toledo working on Cauliflower mosaic virus. Currently, Roberto is a Postdoctoral Fellow in David Leib’s Lab at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, where he is currently studying Herpes simplex virus-1. When not in lab, Roberto enjoys spending time with his fiancé Francesca and their dog Luna, attempting to play the guitar and when possible some good snowboarding sessions.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Night Owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

Her name is Luna, the derpiest and most loving dog you will ever meet. She loves to dance (literally on her two paws) and smack you in the face when she wants attention or food.

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

I have a painting of Hepatitis B virus, a plastic ethanol molecule that I use as my fidget spinner and countless mugs from either the American Chemical Society , American Society for Virology and American Society for Microbiology.

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?


8 If you could switch professions, what would you do?

I would love to be a Airplane Pilot.

9 If you could switch science fields, what field would you want to work in?

Biochemistry for sure

10 If you got a plane ticket right now, where would it go?

Back home to Puerto Rico!!!!!!

11 If you had one superpower, what would it be?


12 Is there anything you strongly recommend we watch and/or read and/or listen to?

Watch: Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski/Listen: Los Pleneros de la Cresta and Read: Norse Mythology by Nail Gaiman

13 It’s your day off. What do you want to do?

Go hiking with my fiancé, go snowboarding and treat myself to my guilty pleasure…video games.

14 What are three things you can’t live without?

Puertorican food, music and coffee

15 What beverage gives you life?

10000% Coffee

16 What book did you read in school that positively shaped you?

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

17 What did you want to be when you grew up?


18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Surpassing my limits, learning and developing new ideas.

19 What got you excited in science?

My parents definitely planted the seed of curiosity.

20 What excites you about science now?

The challenge and the limitless possibilities

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Video games

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I think public speaking.

23 What is your favorite game?

Board game: Battleship/ video game: Borderlands

24 What is the last book you read?

Dancing Naked in the Mind Field by Kary Mullis

25 What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve received?

“Nothing good can come from doing things in a hurry”

26 What is something you’ve always wanted to try but you’ve been too scared to do?


27 What is the best advice for your 18 year old self?

Stay curious and never let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve something.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Playing the guitar or taking a nice walk outside.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Baseball game

30 What is the weirdest thing you’ve had in your bag?

A bag full of fried plantain.. because why not?

31 What is your favorite animal?


32 What is your favorite book?

War Against All Puerto Ricans by Nelson Antonio Denis

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Arroz con Gandules (yellow rice with pigeon peas)

34 What is your favorite day of the year?


35 What is your favorite plant?

Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale Cress) – fond memories from my dissertation work.

36 What is your favorite science fact?

The first virus ever discovered was a plant virus – Tobacco mosaic virus

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Coffee – can you tell I am addicted to coffee?

39 What is your favorite sound?

Rain falling on a zinc ceiling. (Super specific)

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I a very much an optimist

41 What is your favorite word (in any language)?


42 What is your proudest moment?

When I defended my dissertation in front of my family and loved ones. (Over zoom unfortunately)

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A Spruce tree

44 What’s the best thing about where you live?

It is gorgeous ( lots of trees and mountains) and it is quiet and away from busy city life.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

My GRE score was not stellar which is why I had to take a gap year.

46 Who would you like to see 46 Questions interview next?