Meet a Phylogenetic Plant Ecologist Researcher

Many times, when STEM professionals go back to school in order to share their professional experience, they focus on the characteristics of their work, their everyday routine or the skills they have learned to carry out their work. But, it is also really important to know the impact of their profession on our daily lives. In many cases, it’ s easy to understand, although sometimes it is worth making an effort to explain it. For example, STEM professionals who are involved in scientific research.

The students of IES Blas Infante in Cordoba, Spain, have had the opportunity to hear the experience of Rafael Molina, Biology PhD.

The activity with this STEM professional have been planed for 4th year secondary school students. These pupils are between 15 and 16 years old and they have to choose an educational itinerary for the last two years of secondary education. So this activity has been organised as part of the academic orientation plan to show them STEM careers.

Rafael Molina explained the importance of knowing the evolution of the vegetal species and the characteristic ecosystem of each area around the world and their relationship with human well-being. But he also shared his professional experience from a different point of view, although shared with many other STEM careers: scientific research. Many of our students don’t know what research work exactly is and how important it is for our society to generate scientific knowledge in all fields of study.

For this reason, Rafael shared his professional experience and explained the importance of keeping the research process alive. He told us about a work in the field of Biology that was carried out in the 1960s analysing a group of bacteria living in hot thermal waters of the Yellowstone Natural Park. With this example, he showed us that, although in those years this study may not have had much importance, later it would be of considerable help to everyone. Even if it were carried out now, we might think that it is something that is not very important. But on the other hand, he explained the importance that the development of this study had for the development of something that all students are familiar with today: PCR tests for the detection of COVID-19.

This made us understand that the importance of carrying out scientific research work does not mean that a great discovery will be made at that moment, but to contribute to the necessary and constant generation of scientific knowledge, which is what has always helped the development of our society. Likewise, keeping this knowledge and making society understand that everything is based on scientific evidence helps to avoid the fake news that generates so much controversy in our society. He explained what scientific publications are, what they are based on and what a publication process is like, trying to make it clear that it is necessary to check the information and always use reliable sources.

More information about his research: