From a very young age, this little girl was interested in exploring everything around her, and loved animals and nature. This curiosity continued as a girl and a woman, and being so curious, what was more logical than to love science and continued research on understanding things and creating knowledge?
In my family, where both of my parents are medical doctors, and many family members were implicated in social work or were part of feminist movements, I was always taught that girls and boys are equals and that all of us should be able to follow our dreams and to use our strengths for ourselves and, more importantly, for helping others and making a better world.
My mother is French, my father Panamanian and we have family and friends from all around the world. This multiculturalism was not always understood, as people like to classify us and put us in silos. Even in science, some areas continue to have difficulty communicating between themselves, even if multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary science done by men and women researchers from all around the world makes such a profound impact.
Each of us is unique and this diversity is one of the biggest strengths to humanity. As a scientist, I am not only focused on my research on viruses of public health importance for my country and the world, but every day, I enjoy working with my students, young women and men, so they can create their own paths and dreams, working always together as equals. Mentoring and working in a group is one of the most beautiful things in science. At least in my field, scientists are not isolated geniuses but a group of amazing people that work together on their passions, to create knowledge and change for all.
We can have many passions, so I am also active in some areas that are not so close to my research field; I participate in voluntary work for women in science awareness, science diplomacy and science communication.
This shows that girls and boys do not need to choose between their dreams, even if juggling so many activities and being a mother of two great young girls is not so easy and is an everyday challenge. I tell all young girls to not to listen to people telling them what they can or can’t do. If they love science, they should follow their dreams, not only to study science, but if this is the pathway they want to follow as a woman, to continue on that pathway regardless of the difficulties.
We have all faced difficulties, some more than others, but we are not alone, so you should look for role models, for mentors, for real collaborators that will always support you and will allow you to bring your best and enjoy it throughout your life. Together, we are stronger and we can bring the change that our institutions and the world need for gender equity in science.