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Juliano Aquilino ’23

Research for the Common Good

Can we develop better antiviral treatments for the flu? Juliano Aquilino ’23 conducted research to visualize a protein within influenza that could be used to develop next generation antivirals.

Juliano Aquilino originally planned his high school career around drawing concept cars. That didn’t last long. At UD he has done four years of research on a protein that may yield a key to the next generation of antiviral vaccines.

So you like high-end cars?
That passion did affect my decision making some. For example, my father thought that it would be practical for me to take Spanish in high school. But I opted for French because of my interest in Bugatti cars. A high school class that everybody had to take, however, led me to a passion for science. I still communicate with my freshman biology teacher. She’s one of the people to whom I dedicated my UD thesis.

What kind of research are you performing?
I’ve been lucky to have multiple projects, including an internship with Argonne National Laboratory. On campus, I’ve worked for four years on a project that’s in its seventh year — an attempt to get a picture of a particular protein in order to inhibit it. That could lead to progress in the fight against influenza.

What brought you to UD?
The first time I stepped on campus, even though it was a dreary day, I felt at home. I’m paying my way, so financial aid brought me here and kept me here. With UD I knew what each year would cost. Donors don’t just help with tuition; they allow us to eat and give us rooms and equipment. My senior year I didn’t have to borrow money. More than money kept me here, however. From the beginning at UD, you are taught about community. At first you don’t think much about it; you are getting adjusted. Then you meet people in class, study together, socialize. (There’s only so much chemistry you can do without going crazy.) And I haven’t met a professor I didn’t like. I tell new students that this community thing may sound cheesy and clichéd, but embrace it.

What will you be doing next?
Autopsies on monkeys. Well, tissue studies will be part of what I’ll do as part of my graduate work studying high containment of viruses in the experimental pathology doctoral program at the University of Texas Medical Branch on Galveston Island. It’s my first choice of schools (and I’m a beach person).

After grad school, what?
I’d like to be a virologist, maybe with the federal government in biological weapons defense. There are real dangers to be confronted. So that’s something I’d want to do for myself, my friends, my family.

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I think I have over a thousand hours of virtual and physical lab work, and I've learned a lot.

Juliano Aquilino ’23, biochemistry

Helping Flyers Fly

The inclusive, tight-knit community feeling he experienced while walking around the University of Dayton campus impressed Juliano Aquilino ‘23 — but what really catapulted UD to his top college choice was a tour of the chemistry department’s laboratory.