I am fortunate to have grown up in Colombia, one of the richest, biodiverse countries on earth and to have enjoyed nature firsthand―from the mountains to the valleys, from the Pacific and Caribbean coasts to the biggest South American rivers. My fascination
for life and nature led me to study two main areas of biology at the Universidad del Valle in Cali: marine biology and zoology. My first contact with the amazing pink river dolphins took me to another area of science: molecular ecology. I was determined
to investigate the intriguing evolutionary history of these dolphins in South American rivers so I did my undergraduate and Master’s thesis working on their population genetics and molecular taxonomy. After a period working as a professor and
researcher in Colombia, I won an Alban Scholarship from the European Union and went to the North Atlantic, where I received my PhD in molecular ecology at Durham University in the UK, working with conservation genetics and phylogenetics of marine
dolphins (genus Lagenorhynchus), a project that I continued as a postdoctoral fellow at the same university.
At KAUST I will be mainly working with the molecular ecology of corals and their symbionts. Working in this unique and almost unexplored ecosystem is the opportunity that I was looking for to study the evolutionary forces behind the adaptation and long-term survival of marine organisms and the evolutionary processes that have shaped marine life.
In my ‘spare’ time I enjoy traveling to other countries where I can learn something about cultures, views on life. I love black and white photography, yoga and, of course, dancing, especially salsa and other music from my country. I am learning how to cook healthy vegetarian meals in order to live more in harmony with nature.