Sandra LaBonte

Sandra LaBonte

Dr. Paul Straight’s Laboratory

Entrance year: 2019

Hometown: Albany, TX

“My project focuses on bacterial interspecies interactions. Bacteria are present in environments ranging from the soil to the human gut. In order to communicate with each other, bacteria produce small molecules like antibiotics. Understanding how antibiotics act in nature will lead to a greater understanding of how antibiotic resistance is developed.”

Research Specialties

Bioinformatics and Genomics

Microbial Genetics

Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Genetics


Why did you choose the Genetics PhD program at A&M?

I chose the genetics program here at A&M because of the interdisciplinary aspect. I knew I wanted to do microbial genetics but there are PIs across several specialties that all do this. I wanted the opportunity to explore each field before choosing my final lab.

When and how did you realize that you wanted to study Genetics?

For as long as I can remember, there has always been a new disease in the news plaguing the earth. From Ebola to Zika and now to COVID-19, new pathogenic bacteria and viruses are constantly being discovered. I have always been interested in each new case and constantly keeping up with the science discoveries and spread. I am fascinated with the new discoveries being made. I have always been driven to find out how things work and the mechanisms in which different species operate. Each disease has a new way of infecting a host and defending itself against all odds. Learning how new species and already known species are evolving to infect humans is what I want to be able to study.

Fun Facts:

What would be your dream job after graduation from the program?

My ultimate dream job would be studying and swimming with sea turtles in Hawaii, but more realistically I would like to study infectious diseases.

What is your favorite thing about life in College Station?

My favorite thing about College Station is the community I have here. I have several friends I get together with on the weekends for a wine or margarita night.

Do you have any pets? If so, please tell us about them.

I have a borderdoodle named Axel who constantly keeps me on my toes! He always wants to be outside, so we go hiking and to dog parks all the time.