l-r: Maria del Mar Vivanco (EMBL Alumni Association Vice Chair), Cornelius Gross (Deputy Head of EMBL Monterotondo) and Amaicha Depino (John Kendrew Award winner).
Well-deserved applause for Amaicha from EMBL Director General, Iain Mattaj, and Associate Director, Matthias Hentze.
On Friday 10th June, EMBL and EMBO staff and alumni gathered in the Klaus Tschira Auditorium for the John Kendrew Young Scientist Award Ceremony, part of the EMBL Lab Day programme.
This year’s award winner, former Monterotondo postdoc Amaicha Depino, gave a modest yet moving presentation on her motivation to communicate science through workshops and children’s books. “Argentina is a poor country, yet education is free. I didn’t pay for my degree or PhD, and I want to give something back,” she told the charmed audience. EMBL has 12 Argentinean alumni, and Amaicha is one of three who have returned to work in their home country.
Amaicha first heard about the lab at a conference called ‘EMBL in Argentina’, and before the award ceremony she agreed with Iain Mattaj to organise a similar conference in 2012 to promote EMBL.
Amaicha, whose group in the University of Buenos Aires is trying to understand the role of glia and neuroinflammation in the development and manifestation of autism, was inspired by the work of EMBL Heidelberg’s Francesca Peri, on microglia in the zebrafish: “I hope we can establish a collaboration”, she added after their meeting.
Asked about the value of the award, Amaicha reflected that “winning the JKA was recognition of the effort of both doing science in Argentina and trying to communicate science in different ways.”
For those interested, the next installment in the adventures of Amaicha’s detective Intringulis will launch at the 2012 Book Fair in Buenos Aires. The science in this book focuses on blood and the insights it can give to forensic scientists.