Mexican scientist granted same distinction as Darwin and Einstein

Valeria Souza Saldívar is the first Mexican scientist to enter the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in the category of Honorary Foreign Member

Mexican scientist granted same distinction as Darwin and Einstein
Valeria Souza Saldívar is a researcher of UNAM’s Ecology Institute – Photo: Henry Romero Reuters
English 25/10/2019 15:11 Notimex Mexico City Actualizada 15:11
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Cuatro Ciénegas, Coahuila guards the secret of life on Earth. It is the most important wetland in the world, but unfortunately, it is in danger of extinction. Valeria Souza Saldívar, researcher of the Ecology Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) has been working to prevent this to happen.

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Souza recently entered the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) in the United States, in the category of Honorary Foreign Member, for her merit of linking science and society due to her work with high school students to save this wetland from the mortal danger it faces.

She is the first Mexican to be appointed an honorary member of this institution, where great figures of sciences and arts have signed the book of the Academy, such as Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein.

Souza Saldívar expressed that “this international recognition is for Mexico and the UNAM because I am what I am thanks to the university. In the AAAS I’m accompanied by giants: Darwin, Einstein. I must keep working to match up.”

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The project coordinated by the master in Biology and doctor in Ecology by the UNAM is based in counseling schools in the region and creation awareness among young students about the importance of taking care of the environment, in addition to giving them the necessary tools to find a balance between economy and ecology.

“I hope this recognition gives Cuatro Ciénegas the necessary visibility to be saved and for the closure of the channels on it since the beautiful wells in the middle of the desert are getting empty,” she stated.

In her research, she has noticed this area’s danger of extinction is due to the water extraction with no measures, outdated irrigation channels and land sale in what should be a Natural Protected Area.

It is an area that can give answers to scientists regarding how to clean the air, an action naturally provided by Cuatro Ciénegas during millions of years, according to the research on the ecosystems made by Valeria Souza.

It is a unique place in the desert where bacterias still dominate as at the beginning of life, as highlighted by the specialist in molecular and bacterial evolution.

Invited by NASA and guided by ichthyologist Wendell Minckley, Souza Saldívar visited Cuatro Ciénegas for the first time 20 years ago.

Cuatro Ciénegas, the only place on Earth similar to Mars’s surface but also to primitive Earth, caused “love at first sight” in the Mexican scientist and since then she has worked with passion for its research and promoting its preservation.

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