The Incredible Ilaria Cobb

One of Horizon Honors’ very own juniors, Ilaria Cobb, has had the wonderful opportunity to a co-author a paper on new discoveries concerning viruses and ixodid ticks.

Reese Bennett, Columnist

Ilaria Cobb, a junior at Horizon Honors, has been interning at Dr. Arvind Varsani’s virology lab at the ASU Biodesign Institute. Her main studies at the lab aren’t about viruses, but that didn’t stop her from participating in co-authoring a captivating scientific research paper on discoveries about two newly uncovered viruses. This is an amazing accomplishment for Cobb. Here’s what she has to say on the topic:

The Horizon Sun: Your paper is on viruses and ixodid ticks, but what did you research specifically?

Ilaria Cobb, junior: In my lab, we do a lot of experimental and discovery work, so this virus that we found, it is a geminivirus and an anellovirus, so they’re both a new kind of virus that hasn’t been found before. They’re possibly thought to be [not only affecting plants], but dogs as well.

The Sun: For clarification, what are these viruses? What is an ixodid tick?

IC: These viruses affect mainly plants in different manners. An ixodid tick is just a type of tick that lives in the forest.

The Sun: Who did you co-author the paper with? What was it like working with them?

IC: I co-authored [the paper] with some of my lab mates: Kara Waites, Dr. Arvind Varsani… just a few other girls in my lab that I work with. [Working with them is] awesome. It’s just a really great lab. They’re welcoming and understanding that I don’t understand what’s going on a lot of the time because it’s all super new for me, but they’re a great staff and super helpful.

The Sun: How did you feel when you made the discovery about viruses and ixodid ticks?

IC: It was really exciting. This isn’t my specific project I’m working on, I work more specifically with cacti, but I just kind of helped with the lab work and edited the paper and everything like that, but it was really exciting as a 16-year old to co-author on a science paper.

The Sun: Have you enjoyed interning at Dr. Arvind Varsani’s virology lab?

IC: [Yes,] he’s awesome. He’s really down-to-earth. [He] grew up in the [African bush] and he’s been all over the world. [He] works in Antarctica for three months every year, collecting samples and stuff over there. [He’s] a super cool guy.

The Sun: Would you like to do anything related to virology later on in your life?

IC: [Yes,] I plan to major in molecular biology in college and then I plan on getting my Ph.D down the road in molecular [biology] and maybe viruses, I’m not sure yet, but definitely [the] little things, they’re my favorite.

Cobb has thoroughly enjoyed her experience so far at the lab. Her future definitely looks promising in the wing of biology and you can be sure Ilaria Cobb will cover every topic she can as she becomes one accomplished young lady.