175 Biotechnology Building
Ithaca, NY 14853
My main area of interest is how we can use natural diversity to make better corn.
I have genotyped thousands of inbred lines selected from breeding programs all around the world, the Ames collection. The data generated produced hundreds of thousands of markers across the entire genome and gave us interesting insights about the history of maize breeding around the world, the different levels of diversity, etc.
Currently I am working on generating/using new data in those inbreds to obtain even more interesting insights into how plants work.
I also think that in order to improve our research it is important that we collaborate with other scientists, so a big part of my job consists in helping people in the Buckler lab generate/handle their data mostly through collaborations within and outside our group.
Why I Became a Scientist
My mother always told me that my first complete sentence was “Mamá, ¿esto qué es?” – “Mom, what is this?” It made her crazy because I repeated it constantly, pointing everywhere. That phrase is still a defining part of my life; and, is possibly responsible for my working in maize genetics.
I was born in Pontevedra, a small city in Northwest of Spain. When I was a child I wanted to be a doctor, like my dad, my granddad, my grand granddad…. When I started at University, my father began to talk to me about his job. I realized that, even with important happy moments, his job also had a lot of patients crying, suffering, and complaining. In that same period, my wonderful biology teacher, started to talk to the class about genetics. It was amazing to me. How could it be possible that those four letters could control all the organisms in the world? That is how I decided to study plants. They do not cry; they do not complain. But, they are still alive and made up of tons of DNA.
During my third year at University, I had the opportunity to do real research. Through an exchange, I worked in Italy during fall semester and at a maize breeding station in my hometown during summer. These were some of the best experiences of my life. I met new people and was introduced to new cultures; I enjoyed the fieldwork and the outside air; I found answers to some of my questions. I felt that, not only was I helping to create a better world, but I was enjoying it at the same time. I decided I wanted my life to always be like that. Now, because of my job as a maize geneticist, I live in a different country, where every day is new and exciting making discoveries about what things are.
Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environment Engineering (Plant Breeding), University of Vigo, Spain
B.S. in Agronomy, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain