I consider myself an adventurer, a seeker of knowledge, an optimist, a teacher, and a mentor. All of these qualities have driven my life and professional experience to where I am today.
Early in my life, I worked as a camp counsellor with kids from 3 to 17 years old for 6 summers, playing, hiking, and teaching them the values of team-work and love for nature. I did this during my summer breaks while I was studying to be a Veterinarian at Universidad Complutense of Madrid, in Spain. As a Vet student I was able to continue fulfilling my love for nature through a 2 year internship as a Cow Vet in the North of Madrid and as a summer intern in the Zoo of Madrid. Yes, I had to explore the cows with long gloves!
After I finished my Veterinary degree I still wanted to continue learning, meeting people and the world. I was lucky to meet my Ph.D. supervisor, a Genetics professor at Universidad Complutense of Madrid, who was studying the effect of climate change in populations of phytoplankton. Phytoplankon are the plants of the water, which feed the trophic web in the aquatic systems and produce more than 50% of the oxygen we breathe! I worked in his lab for 4 1/2 years, and lived in Madrid and Cadiz (working at Insitituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucía), in Spain, and Southampton (working at the National Oceanographic Center), in England. During this time, I worked and interacted with oceanographers and scientists from many different countries and disciplines.
After my Ph.D. I moved to Woods Hole, Massachusetts (USA), for two years to work at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the most important oceanographic institution in the US, as part of the Dyhrman lab. As a postdoctoral scientist, I learned cutting-edge tools for my research and met and interacted with amazing scientists and people.
I then followed the Dyhrman lab to Columbia University where I worked as a postdoctoral scientist and a lecturer, teaching as part of the Columbia University science core course, Frontiers of Science. Despite my Biological background, I taught in topics ranging from the neuroscience of language to general and special relativity, the birth of the earth and the evolution of birds. Teaching Frontiers of Science was an incredibly rewarding experience that challenged me to learn and communicate scientific concepts beyond the boundaries of my expertise.
It was because of Frontiers of Science that I met Professor Hughes, from the Physics Department at Columbia University. Professor Hughes funded the K=1 Project, Center for Nuclear Studies, in 2011 as an effort to foster within young scholars an interest in and a sophisticated understanding of the nuclear issues that face the world today. Since then, the mission of the center has expanded to promote informed, scientifically-guided public discussion on the topic of nuclear technologies. I joined the K1 Project as the Assistant Director in 2017, where I contribute to the distribution of K1 discoveries and mission across the globe.
As part of my current and past positions, I have taught and mentored a number of graduate, undergraduate, and high school students in the classroom and laboratory. But my mission as an educator extends beyond the classroom and laboratory. I work tirelessly to increase science literacy among the public, K-12 students, and teachers, as a way to promote social equality through science. I have organized and participated in a number of science outreach activities in science fairs, schools, and public events, closing the cycle and going back to those 3-17 year old kids I worked with 15 years ago. But now, I can teach them much more about my experience as a scientist and as a traveler.
Learn other 5 things you did not know about me in ‘A lady in a Labcoat’ blog, by Ali Bausch: ROCK CLIMBER. OPTIMIST. FORMER CLOWN. SCIENTIST.