Meet Carolina L. González-Berríos, Animal and Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Student
Updated: Sep 15, 2020
Hard-worker, persistent, and courageous, Carolina works on improving the dairy industry through biology research and outreach.
Carolina is a Ph.D. student at Colorado State University and her research focuses on understanding the mechanism of how early embryo loss occurs in Holstein cows. As a Ph.D. student who takes part of dual training in Animal Sciences (AS) and Biomedical Sciences (BMS), one of her primary responsibilities is to bridge scientists in both departments through her research.
Under the mentorship of Dr. Thomas, Carolina uses bioinformatic tools for genotype to phenotype studies in fertility and reproductive traits. Under the mentorship of Dr.Hansen, she uses molecular laboratory techniques to work with qualitative and quantitative data. Being an NNF (National Needs Fellowship) scholar, Carolina is part of an international collaboration with Dr. Marina Fortes from the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane, Australia, where she will be learning more about bioinformatic tools (SNP Discovery) to detect unique mutations in her data. How awesome is that?!
Carolina’s interest in science started in her early years
She knew what she wanted to be in the future very young. Carolina volunteered in veterinary clinics in the summers and participated in pre-college research at the University of Puerto Rico when she was in high school. Later, as an undergraduate student at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez (UPRM), she continued volunteering at veterinary clinics, farms and participated in different research projects in entomology, food science, and animal genetics. She also had the chance to do an internship at Royal Farms Dairy, L.L.C. in Garden City, Kansas as an undergrad.
“As my B.S. (Animal Science and minor in Pre-veterinary) was coming to an end, I noticed how drawn I was about taking part of a research project that contributes to the advancement in the field of Animal Science. “
Carolina completed her Master's program at UPRM under Dr. Melvin Pagan-Morales and gained skills in oral and scientific writing, learned and taught undergraduates’ molecular techniques and use of genotype to phenotype studies for growth and economic relevant traits. She was so thrilled on continuing on academia that she decided to pursue her Ph.D. at Colorado State University outside her comfort zone ready to grow as a scientist and as an individual.
We all go through hard times...
During her first year as a Ph.D. student, Carolina experienced difficulties in the workspace and had to make a really tough decision: changing laboratories.
“I was confronted with daily microaggressions from a male Ph.D. student, which took a toll on my mental health and ability to feel safe. To overcome this, I decided to take a series of steps where I brought the issue first with my mentor and then to the university. Although the university deemed this behavior as not being harassment, I decided to remove myself from the situation.“
Carolina looked for help at campus during that transition of switching laboratories. Thanks to that, she was able to manage and learn from that hard situation, and most importantly prepare for any future issues.
“As I look back on this, I realize how important it is to have difficult conversations and to appeal for your rights as a human being. In the end, it is important to acknowledge that no matter the issue or situation, it is up to you to fight for your dreams and not let others prevent you from reaching it.”
If you're struggling with a similar problem or any other problem that affects your health and ability to feel safe, please look for professional help! You are important.
Amazing things happen in grad school too!
Carolina had the fantastic opportunity of being awarded the National Needs Fellowship and be part of the annual the Rocky Mountains Reproductive Science Symposium (RMRSS) organizing committee which she describes as the most rewarding experience she had as a Ph.D. student. This experience allowed her to be exposed to unique research collaborations in the field of animal reproduction. You go girl!
Carolina describes her journey as a tough but a very rewarding one. She advises the following:
“Stick to your beliefs and never forget to always believe in yourself no matter what happens. Remember, no one can accomplish your dreams for you, and it is up to you to pursue your passions while giving back to the world.”
It can't all be work...
In her free time Carolina enjoys photography. She enjoys taking pictures of little details of everyday life like of a tiny ladybug crawling on an old building, a budding flower, and much more.
“There’s something about pressing a button and preserving a moment forever in a still image that captivates me.”
She also likes painting, which she described as something that provokes her calmness from creating something new. Also, she has been participating in bouldering and cycling since she moved to Colorado. Carolina described these hobbies as an excellent way to manage her stress from grad school.
Looking at the future
Carolina’s wants to become a tenured professor where she envisions educating young minds, recruiting and working with women in an inclusive environment and filling the gap between scientists and the general population by participating in outreach programs.
And they say the future is FEMALE
Carolina wished to highlight the importance of women supporting and empowering each other and advised young female students to never let others tell them what they are capable of.
“We need to be able to work together and not against each other to achieve what is slowly becoming a revolution of women’s rights.”
Carolina also described as essential to highlight minority women in Ag Sciences because it inspires younger generations to take part in this field. She mentioned how it is powerful for girls to see themselves represented in this field since it helps them realize they can also do it. Role models are vital for motivating and inspiring younger generations to do amazing things. Carolina described her mother, as her female role model, as she thought her how to speak her mind, be persistent, be a hard worker and keep herself grounded in life.
"Although she did not study under the S.T.E.M. field, as I have, she has inspired me to be the woman I am today. "
Special shout out
Carolina wants to shout out all the Feminist Fight Clubs out there!
"With every moment that a woman speaks up for what she believes by telling others how to treat her; we as women keep fighting against the patriarchy."
You can find Carolina at:
Linked-In: Carolina L. González-Berríos
“All grown-ups were once children, but only a few of them remember it.”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince (1943).
Thanks Carolina for sharing your story with us!!!
-The WAGS TEAM
[Carolina's interview was transcribed by WAGS Team member: Noelymar Gonzalez.]