Aria was raised in Huntington, New York, on Long Island. She received her BS with high honors in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Cornell University in May 2017. After experimenting at the undergraduate level in geochemistry, condensed-matter physics, and synthetic biology, she turned her interests toward computational research. She is currently pursuing her PhD in molecular engineering at the University of Chicago, advised by Professor Juan de Pablo, and in 2019 she was awarded a graduate research fellowship by the National Science Foundation. In her spare time, she enjoys modern art, film, hiking, and gaming.
Aria studies the structure of chromatin. DNA, the fundamental building block of our genetic makeup, codes for functional proteins through its primary structure–the sequence of its four different nucleic acids. Gene expression, however, is influenced by higher order structures of DNA and DNA-protein complexes (chromatin) through interactions ranging from the wrapping of DNA around histone proteins to form nucleosomes on the 10 nanometer scale, to the formation of chromatin loops hundreds of nanometers wide, to nuclear subdomains on the scale of entire chromosomes. Her research focuses on characterizing the details of these structures across multiple length scales through molecular dynamics and Monte Carlo simulations of complex, detailed polymer models for chromatin.