Andrea Ramirez-Torres

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, Bachelor of Arts in Natural & Applied Science, Undergraduate Certificate in Women's & Gender Studies

College: College of Arts, Sciences & Education (Honors College)

Andrea Ramirez Torres wants to give survivors of sexual violence validation and a voice through science. 

Although Andrea and her family survived the devastating impacts of Hurricane Maria, they had to leave their home in San Juan, Puerto Rico and move to New York. For a while, Andrea’s dream of going to college was on hold. Out-of-state tuition was too much of a financial burden. Just before all hope was lost, a friend mentioned a program called FIU Strong, which supported students impacted by the hurricane.  

Once admitted at FIU, Andrea seized the opportunity. An Honors College student, she was given the prestigious Dean’s Research Award for the Advanced Research and Creativity in Honors program in FIU professor Bruce McCord’s lab, where she works on alternative methods of DNA identification for victims of sexual violence.   

Her research found that many victims of sexual violence are not willing to undergo the current practices of retrieving DNA samples after an assault. So, she’s developing a less-invasive technology to detect bacteria that transfers from the suspect to the victim. This innovative new method could become an effective alternative for identification.  

Andrea has presented her work at several academic conferences to industry and academic experts in forensic science. She’s also an ambassador for FIU’s Office of Social Justice & Inclusion, where she helps under-represented students involved in undergraduate research. An advocate for the prevention of sexual violence, Andrea is also active on campus and has worked as a campus organizer for “It’s On Us,” as well as on the planning committee for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  

After graduation, Andrea wants to continue her studies and research, and is currently applying to graduate school. 

By Nathalie Medina 
Junior Account Manager
College of Arts, Sciences & Education