Carla Y. Bonilla, Ph.D.

Carla Y. Bonilla, Ph.D.


University of San Diego

Carla Y. Bonilla, Ph.D., is an associate professor at the University of San Diego. Bonilla was born in El Salvador and immigrated to the United States at the age of 13 to be reunited with her parents. Bonilla spent her academic formative years in San Francisco, Calif., where she attended high school and community college before transferring to the University of California, Berkeley to receive her bachelor’s degree in molecular and cell biology.

Bonilla then received a master’s degree in biology at San Francisco State University before earning her Ph.D. at the University of California, San Francisco. Knowing with all her heart that she wanted to be a faculty member who trained and supported undergraduate students, Bonilla sought postdoctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop a bacterial genetics research program. Bonilla taught molecular biology for 10 years at Gonzaga University before joining the University of San Diego in 2022 to teach microbiology.

In her lab, Bonilla works with undergraduate students, teaching them the wonders of bacterial genetics. Bonilla’s lab studies the bacterial response to environmental and oxidative stress. Bonilla is also a founding member of the Microbes and Social Equity working group, which aims to generate discussion around issues of microbial research, policy, pedagogy and social equity. Bonilla is excited to join the ASM MicroBio-LEAP task force and help promote reflective action amongst microbiology leaders to make the ASM an exemplary scientific society of inclusion and equity.

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