Valeria was born and raised in Puerto Rico and received her B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao. After graduating, she moved to Philadelphia where she earned her PhD with Dr. Sunny Shin at the University of Pennsylvania. For her doctoral work, she investigated immune detection of bacterial components by the human NAIP/NLRC4 inflammasome. Her current project focuses on understanding how S. aureus responds to manganese in the heart and defining bacterial and host factors affecting susceptibility to infection.