Although born in central Chile, I grew up in Punta Arenas, near the Strait of Magellan. It was here, next to these cold waters, that my interest in marine life, especially in sharks and rays, started. At a very young age I decided to become a marine biologist and I set out on this path as a student at the Universidad de Valparaíso, in Chile. There were no shark specialists at the university, but my fish biology professor introduced me to one of the few shark specialists in my country, and over the years I became a shark specialist too! To begin with I was able to participate in several projects from the north of Chile to the south, where I had grown up.
After studying sharks and rays along the coast for some years, always as much alongside fishers as pursuing my academic studies, I was able to found my laboratory, Chondrolab, with the help of friends and students – a huge step forward in my career. I had the opportunity to collaborate with an incredible researcher from the University of Connecticut, who opened the door for me to start a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology. As a PhD student, I learned about systematics and evolution and how to connect them so they could be applied to conservation. As part of my dissertation, I took part in scientific cruises around the Falkland Islands in the south-western Atlantic and collected awesome deep-sea skates to compare them with similar skates that can be found in Chilean waters, in the south-eastern Pacific.
I am currently studying sharks, rays and chimaeras; teaching fish biology at the university where I studied; and always looking out for opportunities to communicate to new generations just how important chondrichthyans are.