Lara was born in South Carolina and grew up in Pearl City, Hawaii. She completed her undergraduate studies in chemistry at Boston University, where she worked in the laboratory of Prof. Scott Schaus on the synthesis of purine-based natural products. In 2010, Lara relocated to The University of Sydney, Australia, under the International Postgraduate Research Scholarship Scheme to begin her PhD with Prof. Richard Payne. Lara’s graduate work probed new methods for peptide ligation, focusing specifically on the synthesis and application of thiol- and selenol-functionalized amino acids as tools for the expedient construction of modified peptides and proteins.
In 2015, Lara returned to the States to continue her training as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) NRSA postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Phil Baran at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. Lara’s work at Scripps focused on the development of efficient strategies for peptide macrocyclization and the post-synthetic modification of peptides using metal-catalyzed, decarboxylative couplings.
In November 2017, Lara began her independent career as a Research Fellow at the Research School of Chemistry at the ANU. She is currently an Associate Professor and Westpac Research Fellow. Lara’s group works at the interface of organic synthesis and chemical biology, focusing on the development of new chemical methods for the synthesis and interrogation of complex biomolecules.