Alejandra was born and grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. From a young age, she had the dream of seeking solutions to metabolic diseases. Before joining Kernel Mycofoods, she worked in research and development areas such as: studying metabolites related to diabetic neuropathy and developing advanced therapies with mesenchymal cells.
Can you tell us about your role at Kernel Mycofoods?
I am a researcher in the R+D+i department. I joined Kernel Mycofoods in May 2020; since then, I've been working with the Bioteam in the optimization and creation of new experiments to improve our product.
Tell us about your academic background. What and where have you studied?
First, I love studying! After high school, I volunteered in the Red Cross in Venezuela where I participated in emergency preparedness. At the same time, I studied Biochemistry at the Universidad Central de Venezuela. In the last year of my bachelor’s career , I did a one-year internship where I worked in the laboratory of Domingo Luciani Hospital for 9 months, and the rest of the year I had the pleasure to be with a Yanomami community in the Amazon region. After that, I had the pleasure to work in neurological, microbiological and research areas. Some years later, I decided to continue my academic training in Biochemistry.
How was the experience of training yourself in Venezuela, your home country? And how was the change of moving to Argentina like?
My experience in Venezuela was really amazing. I learned a lot of methodologies, I had the pleasure to work with intelligent, creative people and in dynamic teams. I am so grateful for all the knowledge and skills I learned there. Working in Argentina in my career has been a challenge, because I had to push myself to be better, and at the same time learn as fast as possible in order to adapt and give the best of me as a professional. Argentina has given me wonderful opportunities to improve and to continue developing my professional career, I am very grateful.
What motivated you to join Kernel Mycofoods' team?
For me it's a novel experience. This is my first time in the biotechnology area and the possibility to create a healthy, eco-friendly, affordable superfood that can help people with metabolic disorders is just fascinating.
What do you think are the best qualities of our product?
In my opinion, the key value of our product is its healthy composition because it has protein, essential amino acids, fiber, unsaturated fats and absence of carbohydrates. I see it as a versatile super ingredient.
Outside the lab, what do you enjoy doing the most?
I have two hobbies: one of them is tennis, I love it so much. And the second one, since I was a little child, is mountain climbing.
What would you say is your long-term career dream?
My dream and passion is to work in the development of solutions to the cure of neurodegenerative diseases.
Who do you recognize as a role model or inspiration for your professional life?
Marie Curie, the first woman to ever receive a Nobel Prize in Physics back in 1903. I’m also quite inspired by Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, both to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 for discovering one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors. This is the first time two women share this prize in history! A big step forward!
What advice do you have for aspiring biologists in the context of the foodtech / biotech industry they'll be part of in the next 10 years?
The population of the whole world in the future will have more requirements and they need a healthy, sustainable, friendly environment and nutritious food. In this context, my recommendation to them is to be creative and open minded in looking for solutions to innovate and develop new alternative food.
According to UNESCO, less than 30% of researchers worldwide are female.
At Kernel Mycofoods, we believe women bring diversity of perspectives and work approaches.
“Gender balance in STEM will ensure a democratic technological transformation, with solutions developed to cater to the needs of both genders.” Mc Kinsey
We believe women are not encouraged enough to follow Scientific and Engineering careers.
We hope that Alejandra’s interview serves as an insight on how exciting it is to work in a field where we have the power to create a better future. We want her journey to encourage many girls and women to dream big and reach their highest personal and professional potential.