Maria Alejandra Pinto

Masters student, Evolutionary biology, Bonn University

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Just erase from your head the negative stereotypes that some people have about girls.

What do you do?

I'm a biologist working with one of the most unloved (except for some princesses) animals in the world: frogs. I study the evolutionary relations between species and how climate change affects certain traits of neotropical frogs. My second passion in life: feminism and working with the topic "Women in Science". I'm specifically interested in the situation of latina scientists. You can look for a letter to the editor that I coauthored, published in Science, called "Empowering Latina Scientists".

Why did you choose this field?

My biggest inspiration for choosing this field was my biology teacher at school. Back then, she had a master degree in biology and her master thesis was about frogs and ecofisiology. Also, I live in one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, Colombia. We are the second country with the highest diversity of frog species.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

Study in Germany. A country with one of the best public education systems. I do not come from a family with a high income and I come from a undeveloped country. Going to Germany seemed hard back then, now I know that is possible and requires discipline and patience.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love the common feature that all scientists have: curiosity. And this curiosity for knowledge is what changes the world and people's lives. Also, working in academia could be hard and, sometimes, full of unfair events, but I do really wake up looking forward to change the way things are in this field, at least around me. Being fair with people, don't believe in tyrannical and arrogant hierarchies, report sexual harassment and encourage women to become scientists.

Best advice for next generation?

Your abilities can be developed with discipline, as anyone else does. Once you have enough confident in yourself, NOTHING and no one is going to stop you for achieving whatever you want. Just erase from your head the negative stereotypes that some people have about girls and go out and discover the countless and marvelous things that are waiting to be discovered.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"The women whom I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because things worked out. They got that way because things went wrong and they handled it. They handled it a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it. Those women are my superheroes"

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