I am currently living in Switzerland doing a PhD in Science and Technology Studies at the University of Geneva. I am part of a research team rethinking Science and Public Participation; that is practices that are best known as "citizen science". My research focus is on Do-it-Yourself Biology (DIYbio) and Biohacking, particurly on Pharmaceutical Innovation.
This is me as Gabriela the scientist. My Curriculum Vitae (see below) shows my "productive" lifecourse. But with it I also share a Mini Biography, where I mostly describe the thoughts and choices that led me through my professional life.
I was born in Los Angeles, California, and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico. I consider myself bicultural but I identify as Mexican as it is my family's cultural heritage and the place I grew up in.
For most of my childhood I had very diverse carreer aspirations. The ones I took most seriously were design and medicine. During high school I dismissed design as a viable choice (I just don't have the talent), and although I took the exam for medicine school, the decade long training in skills I did not wish for (I wanted to be a psychiatrist, was not interested in surgery for example) dissuaded me. Eventually someone suggested to me engineering, and 'click', it just made sense somehow.
For my bachelor studies I decided to study engineering, and to fulfill my previous desire to study medicine I wanted to mix engineering with biology. So I ended up with a BSc in Food Science and Engineering from ITESO—a wonderful thing to study if you want your lab courses to involve distilling tequila and not hexane as was the case for the chemical engineers. I loved the engineering part, but my favorite lab was microbiology. The whole controversy of genetically modified food sparked my curiosity to know more about the science of it, so I set up to pursue graduate studies.
I knew I wanted to study genetic engineering and microorganisms, not plants, or animal tissue, but microorganisms. Eventually, I found the perfect program in the Netherlands at TU Delft where I did my MSc in Life Science and Technology, specializing in the track of Cell Factory. Almost all the content was totally new for me which was very challenging, except for the course of Ethical, Legal, and Societal Issues in Biotechnology because, as a surprise to me, I understood the issues from a different perspective than my engineer collegues. I discovered that my leisure readings on the philosophy, history, and sociology of science had germinated in me the thinking of a social scientist. Before I knew it, I was hooked and I wanted to learn more.
To further my intentions on seriously learning more about the social world of the life sciences I got the support of the Biotechnology and Society Research Group at TU Delft to learn how to do social research. After my initial proposal on researching technology transfer in the life sciences, I stumbled on the concept of "open source biotechnology", it intrigued me immediately. Before long, I came across with Biohacking and DIYbio. Needless to say it became my main research topic which culminated in my MSc dissertation: "We are Biohackers: Exploring the Collective Identity of the DIYbio Movement".
In 2015 I was fortunate to join as a PhD student an amazing research team at the University of Geneva to study "The Rise of Citizen Science: Rethinking Science and Public Participation". My contribution to the team is to focus on Making practices, particularly on the DIYbio movement on which I have been developing expertise. You can learn more about our work as a team at CitizenSciences.net, and about my PhD work on this website.
PhD in Science and Technology Studies
University of Geneva (UNIGE)
MSc in Life Science and Technology: Cell Factory
Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)
In-depth study of the history and culture of (bio)hackers through documentary analysis, interviews and discourse analysis
BSc in Food Science and Engineering
Western Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESO)
Validation through HPLC of identification and quantification of photosynthetic compounds in fruits through Laser Induced Fluorescence (LIF) and Raman Spectroscopy.
R&D Assistant in Biotechnology
Biotechnology Department at TU Delft
R&D in Food Science and Technology
Food Engineering Department at ITESO
Formulation of a whey-based protein drink for children; performed sensory analysis, nutritional assessment and bioavailability
Optimization of the dehydration process for a cactus and chili confectionery; development of computer models for dehydration, and analysis of physicochemical characteristics
Design of a process line for a flash-freeze regional bread (‘bolillo’); Complete design based on thermodynamic energy balances, and analysis of unit operations
Process Manager and Engineer
La Placita Botanaas Mexicanas, Inc.
South El Monte, CA, United States of America
Global Licensing Specialist
Herbalife International, Inc.
Torrance, CA, United States of America
Health and Safety Technician
Counsel of Science and Technology of Jalisco (COECYTJAL)