I am a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Applied Social Sciences at the University of Winchester. Previously, I worked as a Lecturer at the University of East Anglia and as a RCUK Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge.
I have an interdisciplinary background in Genetics, Molecular Biology and Bioethics. I earned my PhD in 2007 from the University of Leeds, in the broad field of population genetics. My doctoral thesis looked at patterns of population movements in Southeast Asia associated with the emergence of agriculture and organised societies. I also have an MSc by Research in Molecular Biology (with a thesis on the role of cannabinoids in regulating the immune response) and a BSc in Genetics from the Universidad Nacional de Misiones in my home country, Argentina.
I have always been interested in people, people not in isolation but in societies. And I have always been fascinated on how different societies interact when they encounter each other. That’s why for many years I studied ancient migrations and how these have shaped not just the genetic blueprint of contemporary societies but also their language, patterns of subsistence, etc. Whilst at Cambridge, I became interested in how populations interact also with their environment. This took me to the heart of the Andes in South America to look for patterns of adaptation to high altitude among native highlanders. Our work identified, among other things, novel avenues of adaptation to hypoxia through improved heart performance.
My research among the Andean highlanders, however, made me also think about the moral implications of what I was doing, i.e. engaging these wonderful people in a research that was going to be of little practical benefit to them (and to be honest to everyone else, too), at least in the short term. I became interested in the social and ethical dimensions of research with indigenous groups and grew concerned about the role of science in advancing (or not advancing) the health needs of the developing world. Then I slipped back into my daily concerns (teaching, publishing… the stuff that keeps academics busy), which is not without merit but that did not give me much space for doing something about the world’s inequalities.
Eventually in 2012, the birth of my daughter gave me the perfect opportunity to take a career break and change direction. In 2014 I went back to school, this time to do an MA in Bioethics, which gave me a foothold in the Social Sciences, and the opportunity to develop new research around issues of exploitation, research collaborations, capacity building in developing countries, genomics and global health in general. So, in a way, I am still pursuing my lifelong interest in people, societies and their interactions, only now from a different angle!
I am currently based at the University of Winchester, where I teach Forensics with my Geneticist hat, and talk to students about the ethical implications of genetic research (forensic or otherwise) with my Bioethicist hat.