Dr. Barrera is a second-generation Spanish/Mexican-American born in Laredo, Texas. In 1999, she earned her B.S. in Biochemistry from St. Edward's University in her hometown of Austin, Texas where she studied the evolutionary relationships between the Carboxypeptidase family of proteins. In 2004 she earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. Her doctoral thesis was the Structural and functional determination of the RNAse P holoenzyme in Bacillus subtilis. In 2004, Dr. Barrera was awarded the FIRST Postdoctoral Fellowship (Fellowships in Research and Science Teaching) from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia (2004-2007). Her research was the structural and functional determination of a protein-RNA complex that is fundamental in bacterial metabolism. Throughout her fellowship, Dr. Barrera taught courses at minority institutions in the Atlanta area such as Spelman and Morehouse Colleges, as well as seeking other teaching opportunities at Georgia Perimeter College. Currently, Dr. Barrera is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Georgia Gwinnett College (2007-present), where she is active in the Biology Internship program. This program helps students gain real world experience in their profession of choice. She is also a member of many professional organizations, such as Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).