Avena Ross was born in Manitoba, Canada and her family moved to Auckland, New Zealand when she was still a young child. Avena completed her primary and secondary education in Auckland and then obtained her BSc (Hons) in Chemistry from the University of Auckland in 2006. As part of her undergraduate degree Avena had the opportunity to work in the synthetic organic chemistry lab of Prof. Margaret Brimble. Avena also travelled back to her homeland and spent a New Zealand summer (Canadian winter!!!) in the lab of Prof. Alison Thompson at Dalhousie University learning about dipyrromethenes. Avena subsequently undertook her PhD at the University of Alberta with Prof. John Vederas where she studied the synthesis and bioactivity of naturally occurring peptide antibiotics termed lanthipeptides. In 2012 Avena received her doctoral degree and moved on to a position as a postdoctoral research fellow in the group of Prof. Brad Moore at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego. At Scripps Avena investigated the biosynthetic mechanisms used by marine bacteria to produce non-ribosomal peptides. During both her doctoral and post doctoral work, Avena was supported by fellowships from NSERC. In January 2015 Avena began her independent career in the Chemistry Department at Queen’s University as a Queen’s National Scholar in Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry.