Maria Jose Gallardo: when the search crosses disciplines

Maria Jose Gallardo: when the search crosses disciplines

Maria Jose Gallardo Nelson, biochemistry and PhD in Sciences mention of Microbiology of the University of Chile. Researcher of the Centre for optics and Photonics (CEFOP) of the University of Concepción and member of the movement more science for Chile.

When I think of when I decided to be scientific, the truth is that I do not remember it. Since I have memories I was studying science and working in a laboratory. While I not detect an instant, if it was able to identify the people who made this decision. My grandfather, who was a very educated engineer, attempted to always tell me about history, nature and science, helping me to question what he saw. Another was my professor of biology, Eduardo Ravanal, who helped me to direct this question to the sciences, which were not only structured content, but a way of understanding the complexity of nature, what people of Sciences like us both and you are passionate about.

With this particular perception, I decided to study Biochemistry at the Faculty of chemical sciences and pharmaceutical of the University of Chile, entitled me in 2005. My thesis focused on microbiology and molecular biology, where I specifically studied the mechanisms of bacterial communication. Two years later I started my PhD in Microbiology at the University of Chile, where to deepen the study of the mechanisms of bacterial communication noting the Biophysics of protein involved, coming into contact with other areas of science.

Rather than follow a line of particular research, focalicé my efforts on the question and search tools that allow me to answer it, find that often makes you cross disciplines. I was always interested in the relationship between microbiology and physics, biophysics, but impressed me even more that new knowledge generated by asking questions in conjunction with various scientists.

IMG_0570The year 2011, I joined as a researcher the Optical trapping and laboratory microscopy of the Center for optics and Photonics (CEFOP) of the Universidad de Concepción. Here we study phenomena by integrating elements from the physics, biology and engineering, seeking to generate broader knowledge through the application of various optical techniques that enable quantitative information from various biological processes. An example is the implementation of the technique of microscopy of blur, with which we have studied the mechanical properties of biological membranes of human red blood cells. Currently, we are working on the implementation of coupled double optical tweezer to study the forces involved in the process of catalysis of proteins at the individual level.

In particular, in my duties as a researcher of the CEFOP is the search for new applications of the techniques of optical instrumentation in biological processes. In that vein, with my team we are developing a prototype optico-digital to identify and post fixed in centers collectors mussels seeds seed in the South of Chile, along with the Group of research and development at Mytiliculture) ProMytilus - Udec) of the Faculty of natural sciences and oceanographic of the University of Concepción.

The power of interdisciplinarity

logo_mcpch_outlined-01Collaborative work in some way opens a little mind. It was in the middle of this work arises where my interest in teaching, seeing in this way of working in research a good strategy for transmitting knowledge. This is why, in 2016, entering the training programme for the University's development, looking for with these new tools not only to teach what is made in a laboratory, but also make you understand the importance to society of the Science in their lives.

The science of interdisciplinary way is able to solve the country's problems and not only stay in good intentions. For this reason I think that the greatest challenge facing science today is to leave the comfort zone to understand the language of another discipline and work together, get out of the comfort zone and disseminate to broad audiences. I studied pedagogy to transmit my knowledge more effectively, because I feel and I think that we should get citizenship, and how this really matters to me, we must lead by example.

Seeking to apply what has been learned, this year I joined a project of public interest, which implemented a network of photometric sensors for measuring and monitoring real-time material particulate matter (PM) breathable 2.5 in the región del Biobío. To date 21 teams are already installed in centers of family health (CESFAM), educational establishments, Hospital Colonel and in stations of the network of the national information system of quality of the air (since) of the Ministry of environment, distributed in Concepción, Chillán and Los Ángeles.

Such projects help us link us directly with the community through workshops and trainings, where they manage to understand the importance of what we do and what they also get involved. In addition, they help us to connect with those who make decisions, deliver a tool of support and information, managing to contribute to the resolution of problems that currently affect our country.

Teaching, research and outreach, pillars of the development of knowledge

Faced with this, I think that it is necessary to be given to the researchers in the future the possibility of participating in the three core areas of scientific knowledge: teaching (both at school and university level), the research and dissemination to level of general public. Those three areas are also mentioned, but not equally valued. If these three pillars will give them the same importance, I think that most scientists would be added and would do so in a professional manner, as well as we do research, whose standards in Chile are excellent.