Meet this month’s Member Spotlight, Verónica Contreras-Shannon, PhD, Professor of Biological Sciences and Director of the MARC U*STAR program at St. Mary’s University (San Antonio, TX). Dr. Contreras-Shannon has been a member since 2005 and is the current Chair for the ASIP Committee for Career Development.
Dr. Contreras-Shannon earned her bachelor’s in Biology at the University of California Santa Cruz. She then participated in research at Los Alamos National Lab in Los Alamos, NM and later earned her PhD from the University of Texas Health San Antonio (UTHSA). After completing her doctoral work in 2003, she completed two postdoctoral fellowships. She is trained in the Pathobiology of Occlusive Vascular Disease, Immunology, Muscle Regeneration, Genetics and Cancer Biology.
At St. Mary’s, Dr. Contreras-Shannon teaches courses and labs in General Biology, Toxicology, Mechanisms of Disease, Cell and Molecular Methodology, and Scientific Methods and Analyses. In addition to teaching, she works to expose undergraduates to cutting-edge biomedical research and give students opportunities to be actively involved in research, mentoring 5-10 undergraduates per year. As director of the MARC U*STAR program, her goal is to adequately prepare and attract the next generation of scientists as a means to increase the number of underrepresented students in the sciences.
What is your favorite part about being a member of the ASIP?
My favorite part of being an ASIP member is that I get to belong to a welcoming community of scientists! As a faculty member at a small, liberal arts college, I don’t have the same day-to-day access to the variety of biomedical scientists you would find at a research-intensive institution. ASIP is both big enough that the membership represents experimental pathologists from various disciplines and career stages, yet small enough to allow genuinely getting to know other members and learn from them. Everyone I have met is friendly, down to earth, and willing to help in whatever way they can. I look forward to meetings where I can reconnect with my ASIP friends and make new ones.
What is your favorite hobby?
I love being in nature and noticing all the excitement. At first, it might seem like there’s nothing there or not much happening beyond the obvious sights, sounds, and smells. Then you see the small motion of a tiny insect. The empty shell of a cicada or egg case of a spider. Your eyes focus on a crawly, a bird, a fungus that was nicely camouflaged on or in a tree. I enjoy natural science illustration; my best work is of things that move slowly or don’t move at all (botanicals). I love pen and ink, and watercolor.
What is the best meal you have ever eaten?
This is a cheat answer because I don’t think I’m answering what you’re asking for. The best meals I have ever eaten are home-coming meals. I love returning home to my mother’s cooking and eating her home-cooked favorites that I haven’t had in months or years like pozole, tamales, and mole. There’s something about a meal that is both delicious and brings back childhood memories.