Meet Alejandra Rodríguez-Jaramillo, Future Plant Pathologist
Updated: Oct 19, 2019
Plant pathologist at heart and a dancer outside the lab. Influenced by women in science, Alejandra seeks to empower other women through her work in the Ag sector.
Alejandra Rodríguez-Jaramillo, or Ale, is a Microbiology student at Los Andes University in Bogotá, Colombia. She's devoted to expanding her knowledge in the agricultural sciences and will be starting her Ph.D. at Cornell University this upcoming Fall. Congratulations Ale!
During our college preparation, we may discover our passion for a specific science area by taking a class or by simply knowing a person that does cool stuff which leads us to try anything! This was the case for Ale. She discovered her fascination to fungi and oomycetes working as an undergraduate researcher. After that experience, she knew she wanted to do this for the rest of her career without a doubt.
“ My passion for research in Plant Pathology started since the summer of 2017 when I decided to join the LAMFU lab (Laboratory of Mycology and Phytopathology Uniandes). I started as an undergraduate research assistant; helping undergraduate and master’s students in their respective research projects. I ended up co-authoring a study with Juliana González-Tobón for her thesis which was submitted for publication. Together, we were developing a study to find out whether the phenomenon of acquired resistance to mefenoxam (fungicide) in Phytophthora infestans is universal."
Alejandra has been working in LAMFU lab since she discovered how impactful the projects are towards the Agriculture improvement at Colombia and her peers’ contribution to Cornell University. Ale’s experience in this powerful lab and her attitude towards reaching more, lead her to participate in an Internship at Cornell University and experienced a taste of what her Ph.D.’s going to look like. She worked under the guidance of the director of the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS), Chris Smart at Cornell AgriTech where she developed her own research project seeking to understand the biology of the fungus Passalora fulva and its interactions with tomato plants.
“I was so amazed by the people, the collaborations and the whole experience of being a researcher outside my country. I also discovered how well prepared I was at that time. When I returned to Colombia, I decided to apply for the Plant Pathology Ph.D. program at Cornell right away. This experience made me realize that this is my future, the next step to fulfill my dream of being a Plant Pathologist and to gain the necessary abilities and capacities to help Colombia in the development of agriculture.”
Besides having a journey of pure devotion to the ag sciences, always striving for the best of herself and giving back to the country, Alejandra had experienced difficulties in the workplace -as many of us- and being from a country where gender inequality is very upsetting she always finds a way to overcome that.
“Science is the opposite of predictable. I think that the most important learning outcome is to value these experiences and take advantage of them. I learned the importance of being resilient. Not only as a scientist but also as a person. I learned through the years to not be afraid to raise my voice and be an empowered woman and an empowered scientist. We are equally capable as men to be exceptional in our research and in life.”
Being surrounded by powerful women in her family, lab and outside Colombia, we asked Alejandra: Why is important to highlight minority women in agricultural sciences?
“My mom and three of the brightest female minds in Plant Pathology taught me how to thrive and the importance of working hard every day to achieve my goals. I think is important to highlight minority women in agricultural sciences because we are bright and empowered women. We are hard workers and we can achieve any goal we set for ourselves in life and I think that’s what agricultural sciences need to thrive every day a little more.”
When Alejandra is not studying or working long hours at lab she loves dancing salsa. Ale says: “As a proud Latin American woman, dance is in my veins! I love all kinds of music genres but especially salsa!”
What would you like to say to young female students out there?
Girls, the future is on your hands. Perseverance and resilience will always be your best qualities. Fight day by day to raise your voice, to demonstrate the world that women are full of strength and that we have the skills to shine every day of our lives.
You can find Alejandra Rodríguez Jaramillo in:
Facebook: Alejandra Rodríguez Jaramillo
email (for now): firstname.lastname@example.org