Carolina Grandellis: My Personal Story

Mar 12, 2016 By Carolina Grandellis
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My interest in science began with my curiosity of the natural world around me when I was a child.

My father told me that I was full of questions, always asking about insects and plants in the garden, and wondering why it rained. He had a busy job trying to answer all my questions, trying to explain to me things like the water cycle.

I recall that I wanted to be a doctor or a designer, and biology was not my favorite subject during high school. However, there was a turning point when I became fascinated with genes and DNA. It was absolutely remarkable to me to learn that every living organism -- plants, animals and bacteria, have these famous DNA molecules.These DNA molecules worked like instruction books on how to develop, and without them life would not exist. This is when I made the decision to study Biotechnology.

Although I was not sure whether or not I would like it, learning about how life itself functions at a molecular (very tiny) level was surprisingly cool to me. By that time, I knew I wanted to become a scientist. I attended a public university during five years to get my degree in Biotechnological Sciences. I needed to take two trains every day to get there so I used to look over my class notes during the run (I studied a lot!).

It took a lot of hard work, but in the end, it all paid off. Before graduation, I already starting looking for a PhD position, which is the right way to start if you want to become a scientist. I applied for scholarships financed by the government and fortunately, I was selected to be a grad student and conduct a thesis to obtain a PhD degree. I then spent 5 years studying how potato plants respond to stress, and in which way we could reduce the impact of the stress in the plants.

During this period I spent seven months working at Iowa State University in the USA, which was great for me, because I learned a lot of new science techniques as well as meeting many other scientists. Additionally, the cultural exchange which is very enriching, as it helped me improve my English, learn new things about American culture, and meet some great people.

Finally in 2012 I earned my PhD! Then I worked for an Agro biotechnology company for three years, and by 2015, I got a postdoctoral position which is where I am working at present, to understand plant diseases.