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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Isabella A. Borrero


Department of Plant Pathology
Department of Plant Pathology
Tampa, FL 

2022 Distinguished Senior Award Recognition Reception Program (.pdf) 

2022 Distinguished Senior Award Recipient Reception Poster (.pdf) 

Isabella Borrero grew up in a military family, calling no one place home, yet never lacking a community to call her own. When her family finally settled in Tampa, Florida, she applied to OSU at a friend’s encouragement; she enrolled, first as a business major, and later transferred into CFAES’s Department of Plant Pathology after a general education class exposed her to the program’s offerings. At OSU and CFAES, Bella found a similar sense of community to that which she fondly remembered from growing up on military bases.

As a non-STEM transfer into a science-intensive major, Bella was concerned that she was behind the curve set by her peers in research and other technical areas. Yet her circumstances eventually yielded her greatest sense of accomplishment when she made the Dean’s List in spring of 2021 while carrying a demanding load of upper-level science-based courses; during this semester, as in all others, she simultaneously maintained her research responsibilities, her employment, and her community and extracurricular involvement. With the expert multitasking skills she’s developed throughout her undergraduate experience, Bella feels undeterred by the prospect of working as a lab assistant and TA as she pursues graduate studies.

Her internship at the Bennett Species Interactions Lab, which began during her sophomore year via the STEP program, led to Bella’s involvement in Dr. Antonino Malacrino’s research examining the effects of rhizosphere biome manipulation on phenotype and genotype expressions in tomato plants. She and another undergraduate research assistant co-managed tomato plants, collecting and analyzing an array of data from petiole length to cellular respiration measurements, eventually collecting rhizosphere samples for gene analysis. When her internship ended, Bella stayed on as a volunteer at the lab until recently, when she joined the Wang Lab for Plant Disease Resistance and Functional Genomics.

Outside of the lab, Bella has enjoyed the opportunities her program has offered her to travel, from attending the Biosecurity in Practice and Theory Seminar at Kansas State to her trip to the University of Turku in Finland. Her passion for travel and the joy of connecting with new minds in her field fuels one of Bella’s foundational beliefs. She states, “I believe collaboration, both internationally and between stateside Universities, fosters diversity in both people and ideas, which is a key ingredient for scientific advancement.”

Bella named Scott Kelsey as her mentor and shared the following: “Scott was the lab manager at the Bennett Species Interactions Lab and trained me during my time there and often worked alongside me. He mentored me through the majority of my lab experiences and graciously helped with my graduate school applications and was just overall an amazingly kind and helpful person in my life.”

Upon graduating, Bella plans to pursue graduate studies in Plant Pathology, Plant Biology, Plant Genetics, or Agricultural Sciences; in the long term, she hopes to work in plant resistance research or become involved in international efforts toward biosecurity and pathogen genomic research.

Service, involvement, and accolades: Sigma Lambda Gamma, Pi Epsilon Chapter, president | University-wide Council of Latinx Organizations (UCLO) Delegate | AmeriCorps VISTA - Festa Free Summer Lunch Camp, assistant site manager | See Kids Dream

Isabella Borrero - Press Release