Lara grew up and studied in Italy. From an early age she was interested in science and exploration, and wanted to go to space. In high school she got interested in astrobiology, and eventually came to the US on a NASA fellowship to complete her master’s thesis at NASA’s Ames Research Center. There she studied microbes that had been sent to space, and her adviser suggested she continue doing research and pursue a PhD, which led her to CU Boulder. She is now in Steve Schmidt’s lab where she studies microbial life in extreme environments. She has traveled to the high Andes, Antarctica, Kilimanjaro, and Death Valley for research to understand what allows microbes to survive in these hostile places.