Falling Walls Female Science Talents Intensive Track: Perspective from a recipient, Dr. Alejandra Parreño

Written by: Dr. Alejandra Parreño, preface by Dr. Judy Mielke

Preface: Among the many activities of the Falling Walls Foundation to support science and science communication is the Female Science Talents Intensive Track. Every year, the program selects 20 exceptionally talented women in science, who already have a strong research track record, to take their careers to the next level. Female Science Talents Intensive Track facilitates the career development of these amazing women through a 12-months program of coaching, mentorship, peer learning and networking. As we approach the next Falling Walls Summit in November, we have the pleasure and privilege to speak with a 2022 Female Science Talent recipient, Dr. Alejandra Parreño.

Could you please briefly summarize your research career?

I did my bachelor’s degree in biology in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a major in genetics and a minor in ecology and I did my undergraduate thesis on biological control of pests in agriculture. As I wanted to broaden my international experience, I decided to travel abroad for my master’s. I went to Lausanne, Switzerland where I received a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in Behavior, Evolution and Conservation. While working as a student assistant in honeybee and fruit fly research, I did my master´s thesis in another institute, focused on the genetics of parasitoid wasps. Following my master’s degree, I started an interdisciplinary PhD in Zurich, Switzerland, where I focused on land use change impacts on biodiversity and productivity. During this time, I also had a brief mobility stay as a research assistant in Michigan, USA for data science. After my PhD, I started my postdoctoral research as part of a European consortium working on wild bee conservation and nutrition, based at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, where I am currently employed.

What is one discovery or realization you’ve come across in your work that you would like the world to know?

I would like the people of the world to know that their decisions matter. Each and every one of us is a valuable and meaningful part of nature and our choices and ideas have a profound impact on Earth, our future, and the future of other species. It is important to know and care about our environment and learn to co-exist with other species, tiny and big in order to develop sustainably and fairly.   

What was the application process like for the Falling Walls Female Science Talents?

I filled the form with questions about my career and made a short video about my experience as an international researcher, as a woman in science, and about my research and passions. 

What advice would you give to prospective candidates interested in becoming a Falling Walls Female Science Talent? Any tips unique to this application process?

The advice would be to spend some time thinking about the video you want to make and include some footage of your research. And don’t forget that editing the video also takes time!

What advice would you offer to applicants who were unsuccessful with their application?

Try again and also look at other activities, as there are other programs and workshops that you may be able to participate in.

How has being the Falling Walls Female Science Talent impacted your career? 

It has increased my network as I met so many interesting women in science from all over the world, who have a huge impact on their communities. The program has provided me with tools and ideas through the workshops that will be make a great impact on my career as an independent researcher.

Acknowledgment

We thank Dr. Alejandra Parreño for sharing her experience as a Falling Walls Female Science Talent recipient with us.


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