How I landed in Science


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(video spoken in Spanish, subtitled in English!)

From jungle girl to scientist

Nobody really knows how Rossana Maguiña‘s story with science began. Since she was little, she wanted to be a scientist. But she’s not really sure why.

Growing up

Her father, a Dr. in Economics, likely had something to do with her interest in science. Around the mid-90s he had a job where he was part of a commission for the development of science and technology in Peru. So, he talked a lot about science at home. That’s likely where she got an initial interest in science.

As she got older, she kept up an interest in being a scientist and dreamed of being on the news. Then, as a teenager she began to wonder what to study in order to become a professional scientist. Her dad helped her decide on Biology.

She really likes field work and contact with nature, because she was born in a small town in the Peruvian Amazon. She always had a lot of contact with nature in her childhood and adolescence. Her parents always took the family hiking and out into natural areas near streams, and swimming in lagoons. So, she has a lot of memories being in contact with nature.

Moving to Lima

At 16, Rossana moved to Lima, Peru to study Biology. Initially, she thought she was going to be a geneticist. She was also considering studying medicinal plants and developing medicines. But, everything changed in the second year of her studies – when she started taking field courses. In those courses she traveled around, and began to have more and more contact with nature. At this point, she realized that this was something she loved. A lot! Likely, this affinity was due to her upbringing and exposure to nature during her childhood.

So, she started looking more towards becoming an Ecologist. As a connection to nature, she really liked ecology. In the last years of her studies she developed her thesis on the diet of herbivorous bats. What she liked most were pollinating bats. So, she chose to specialize in pollination biology.

This was also the point she began to realize the great information gap that existed in her country about plant-animal interactions…

After graduation

Once she graduated as a Biologist, with a strong desire to specialize in pollination biology, she decided she had to look for opportunities outside of Peru. In Peru there were not many options to specialize in that area of research.

For several years she dedicated herself to looking for opportunities. She applied to graduate programs… scholarships… wrote emails to contact researchers outside of Peru…

Truthfully, it didn’t go very well. She received many negative or no responses. But the important thing about her story is that she kept trying, and was very persistent.

Finally, accepted!

In 2014 she was accepted into a Master’s program in Biology at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. And, she won a scholarship to fund her studies.

In her Master’s research she worked with nectivorous bats. But, when she finished her master’s degree she wanted to do much more research. One good option was to continue with doctoral studies. So, she decided to apply for her Ph.D.!

Applying… again…

Happily, this time it went much better! People answered her emails!

She applied to 4 Ph.D. programs as well as scholarships. This time, she was accepted to many programs!

She also won a scholarship called Faculty for the Future. After obtaining this scholarship, she was able to decide where to study. She chose the University of California Santa Cruz, which is where she is now.

It’s very nice to be able to say that she dedicates herself to science. It’s something she enjoys a lot and is passionate about.

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