From Marie Curie, pioneer of women in science, to the present day, women have come a long way in this field and have been conquering spaces, and the same is also happening in Mexico.
Marion Emilie Genevieve, PhD in Immunology and Systems Biology and researcher at the Biotechnology Center-FEMSA, Tecnológico de Monterrey, and Celine Rojas Schröter, a chemical engineering student at the same institution, shared their experiences as “women of science” with EFE.
Genevieve said that the trigger to approach the specialty of Immunology and Systems Biology was a family episode when her mother was diagnosed with cancer and after chemotherapy treatment her body was very weakened.
Seeing his progenitor’s condition he thought that something could be done to improve the condition of such patients.
“When my mom got sick she was given chemotherapy and that cured her cancer, but it also lowered her levels of immune cells called neutrophils and she had an episode of an infection,” she recalled.
She mentioned that since then what she has done during her doctorate and continues to do as a researcher at the Biotechnology Center-FEMSA is to produce neutrophils, which is part of an ambitious project “because neutrophil transfusion is something that does not exist.“
“We transfuse blood, plasma and so on, but neutrophil transfusion does not exist. There are many barriers that we are breaking little by little. We produce human neutrophils from umbilical cord cells and we produce them on a large scale so that in the future we can hopefully have a cell therapy,” said the physician.
She indicated that the idea is that at some point this scientific advance could be useful for patients with cancer treatments or other conditions that affect the immune system.
“It is a subject that few people are working on, people in Australia, in Canada, in the United States, in Germany and I am in contact with them, it is a network of people who want to achieve this,” stressed.
WOMEN WHO INSPIRE
Of French origin, Genevieve recognized that there are also some women in the history of science who have inspired her in her career, such as Maria Curie herself. She considered the Polish physicist and chemist who became a naturalized French citizen and pioneer in the field of radioactivity, as well as the recipient of two Nobel Prizes, to be an example.
“I think that, in addition to Marie Curie, I am mentioning her because she was French; also Rosalind Franklin, who was a crystallographer and took the famous photo of the double helix, and when Watson and Crick saw this photo they understood how DNA was formed,” mentioned the scientists she most admires.
Rojas Schröter is also making her own history, since when she was only 19 and a student at PrepaTec Eugenio Garza Lagüera, she found that there was a reaction between a ferromagnetic liquid and a magnetic field depending on the temperature given to the liquid.
This contribution led the now university student to win the Rómulo Garza Award in the category of High School Student Research Projects.
“I didn’t really think I was going to win and one day they called me and told me I had won, and that was it,” she said with great modesty.
Shee said that since he was a teenager he was attracted to the world of Physics.
“I loved it because I had a teacher whose exams were very particular, the first part was a normal exam, but the last question was an experiment on the table and we had to go and see what was happening, and come back and write what we saw and why we believe what is happening, why it happens,” she recalled.
She attended high school at the Swiss School of Mexico and later continued her studies in Monterrey, Nuevo León (north).
Rojas Schröter, as a representative of a new generation of women in the world of science, said that so far she has not come across any difference between men and women, but she is sure that this was possible thanks to the forerunners who paved the way.
“I am very grateful for that (not having suffered discrimination) but we do know that most of my teachers right now tend to be men; there is a majority in my career who are men and I believe that if more girls get involved I think that later there will be a greater number of female professors,” she concluded.