Berkeley Letters & Science also spoke to Ixchel González-Ramírez, a PhD candidate in Integrative Biology. González-Ramírez is a plant evolutionary biologist who describes her work as being similar to that of a detective: “My work…pieces together the series of events that had to happen for us to have the diversity of plants that we have today. But unlike a detective, I work on much longer time scales - even before the dinosaurs existed! Since working in evolutionary time is complicated, I use different sources of information (genes, fossils, living plants) and models and statistics that help me fill in the information gaps.”
L&S: What did you value most about participating in this series?
González-Ramírez: I appreciate any opportunity to communicate my work, but in this case, I was really excited about the opportunity to share what I do in Spanish, which is my native language! The team at Science at Cal was excellent in giving us tools to communicate effectively. It is beautiful how everybody brought in their expertise to make these videos.
L&S: Why do you think it is important to encourage the Spanish-speaking community to engage with science?
González-Ramírez: I think it is important to engage every member of the community with science. Nature is intrinsically amazing and interesting and everyone deserves to enjoy it! It is really important to create roads to access science that are as diverse as our communities are.
L&S: Do you have any words of advice for Spanish-speaking students considering a career in science?
González-Ramírez: You are welcome and we need you! Science has changed through time; the kinds of questions we are addressing now require the work of often large, interdisciplinary, and multilingual teams --- more diverse teams make for better science! Don't be afraid to ask questions and approach people you want to work with, as most scientists are often thrilled to be asked about their work.
Science at Cal connects UC Berkeley STEM researchers with diverse community groups of all ages and backgrounds for science engagement and learning. Caminos de la Ciencia is another effort to bring STEM research to the Spanish-speaking community, with science talks and bilingual hands-on activities available every fourth Tuesday at 5:30 pm PT at the Oakland Public Library (Cesar E. Chavez branch). To learn more about Science at Cal or to join an upcoming event, please visit https://scienceatcal.berkeley.edu/.