I was very lucky to be born in a place where I had great role models. When I was growing up, my mom was a biologist and a professor at university, while my dad was a university student so our home was always filled with books.
I remember always peeking at my mom’s books … especially the ones with captivating photos on embryology and on congenital genetic diseases, which I found particularly fascinating. My dad always told me that if I find a job that I love I would never have to work in my life. I think a mixture of these two ideas together with a great sense of curiosity made me fall in love with the mysteries that need to be unraveled in the biological world.
We were a low-income family but my parents put all their salaries on my education, so at 17, I studied for a Bachelor’s degree in biology with a major in genetics and biotechnology in Peru. After winning some scholarships, I was able to go abroad and study in Finland, which was followed by a Master’s degree in Biomedicine and Neuroscience in Sweden. I finally ended up doing my PhD in molecular sex determination in Australia.
When I finished my PhD, I realised that scientists need to think about their impact beyond their work in the laboratories and scientific publications. Therefore, I switched paths, and now I work on global risk and policy using my scientific background and my learnings of science diplomacy and government science advice. When I was little, I never would have believed where I am now but in a fast-changing world… It is never too late to set a new goal or to dream a new dream. When I was younger, I dreamt about winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; nowadays, I dream about winning the Nobel Prize in Peace… Who would have guessed?!