When you think of an interesting international personality, it is certainly someone like Dr. Gabriela Figueroa Miranda. Not only does this young woman have two passports, one from her home country Mexico and one from Germany, she also brings with her a high level of innovativeness, a lot of scientific research drive and quite a bit of biochemical knowledge. In short, a personality you want to get to know. As part of the Umbrella cooperation, Gabriela has now visited the land of innovation, Israel.
Dr. Gabriela Figueroa Miranda was interested in science from a very young age. From her earliest years, she followed documentaries on various research topics. Many of these films showed the research landscape in Germany. “I was always fascinated by the science and research that was and is being done in Germany,” Gabriela reports of her impressions. So it is not surprising that her path eventually led her to science and also to Germany. However, her expectations of the distant country and the research conducted there were correspondingly high.
The engineer for biochemistry and biomedicine joined Forschungszentrum Jülich as a master’s student and stayed after her successful doctoral studies. “Now I’m not only a postdoc at the Forschungszentrum, but even an entrepreneur,” she sums up her career with a smile “I really like my work here and feel like I’m making a contribution to people’s health.” And that’s exactly what the young woman is doing in an incredibly innovative way. Gabriela used her knowledge to develop electrochemical biosensors that can detect various diseases, including malaria and COVID-19. “The field of biosensors is great! It is multidisciplinary, from biology to chemistry to engineering. Every day I learn something new, and with this knowledge I can help improve the diagnosis of diseases,” she says enthusiastically. Gabriela is on the way to found a start-up with these innovative biosensors and has also won several awards.
A ticket to Israel
In addition to the NRW Innovation Award, which the young scientist received at the beginning of last year, she also won the Umbrella Award in 2022 and with it a ticket to the Technion in Israel. Israel is considered a land of innovation and is often referred to as the “Start-up Nation.” With her biosensor project and idea of a start-up, Gabriela was able to convince the jury and to win the award of the Umbrella Cooperation. Umbrella is a cooperation between Forschungszentrum Jülich, RWTH Aachen University and the Israel Institute of Technology, or Technion for short. In this cooperation, young people in particular are encouraged to advance their science and to pursue it in collaboration with German and Israeli researchers. The Umbrella Award is linked to a visit to the outstanding Israeli university, which Gabriela gladly used to explore the country’s research landscape and culture: “This award was a great recognition of my work,” the engineer sums up, “and also a nice opportunity to travel to Israel. I was able to present my research there, get in touch with other researchers and discuss potential research synergies. Sometimes we even talked about some really crazy research ideas.”
In addition to the scientific program, Gabriela also had a little time to get to know the history and culture of Israel. If truth be told, a dose of sightseeing should always be part of any good trip, whether personal or professional. From her list of sights, the researcher was able to visit Jerusalem, Nazareth, Betlehem and Tiberias. Gabriela summarizes her impressions in an enthusiastic way: “Israel is truly a melting pot of religions. And yet modernity lies close beside ancient culture, which I was able to see through the research at the Technion.”
Focusing on the future
Last but not least, the exchange with the scientists at the Israeli Technion showed Gabriela that collaborations offer interesting perspectives and options for further developing her own vision. In the future, the young biochemist would like to make her start-up a success and make her biosensors even more precise and powerful. She has already found her personal “research paradise” in Forschungszentrum Jülich and can use the infrastructures and contacts for her work. “It’s important to do what you love, the rest will come gradually,” says Gabriela, looking at her career and towards future generations of researchers “Science is not always easy, it’s sometimes exhausting and also tiring, but it’s worth it!”
We are very excited to see the innovative ideas that Dr. Gabriela Figueroa Miranda will come up with next. Perhaps one of her trips will also take her back to the land of innovation to once again discuss “crazy” research ideas with Israeli researchers.
More on the topic at:
Umbrella Award 2022: https://www.fz-juelich.de/de/aktuelles/umbrella-award-fuer-gabriela-figueroa-miranda
NRW-Innovationspreis 2022: https://www.fz-juelich.de/de/aktuelles/innovationspreis-nrw-fuer-die-forscherinnen-hinter-dem-malaria-sensor
Porträt „Vom Labor in die Welt“: https://www.fz-juelich.de/de/aktuelles/news/feature/vom-labor-in-die-welt