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Meet Julieta Aranibar

Julieta Aranibar is ESA’s 2020 Robert H. Whittaker Travel Award winner.

A truly international scientist, she traveled to different countries as part of her Ph.D. program at University of Virginia. Some of the places she traveled to were University of Botswana to the Kalahari desert. Here, she studied Biological Soil Crust communities that were formed by lichens, mosses, cyanobacteria, turning green and functional after summer rain. Once Julieta returned to UVA, she did a collaboration with the Virginia Institute of Marin Sciences scientists, where she trained using different chemistry tools, for example, isotopes and gas chromatography in order to research biogeochemistry.

Julieta spent her time post-doc at the University of Utah. Here, she learned ecophysiology-based ecosystem modeling by combining data from eddy flux towers and stable isotopes. Once she was back in Argentina, she worked as a scientist at CONICET, where she worked in the Monte desert which has similar organisms to the Kalahari, and the land is also used in similar ways. The understanding of the human component and how they make a living in the desert using natural resources is important in her work.

Since Julieta’s return to Argentina, she has taught classes at University of Cuyo with both under grad and graduate students. She has supervised the students who are working on studying how water availability affects human distribution and degradation in various ecosystems and the importance of the biological soil crusts.

With the travel award, she plans to spend time at the NMSU lab and learn more about sequencing and bioinformatics, culture dependent and independent techniques. She plans to bring her findings back to answer ecological and evolutional questions about cynobacteria living in desert soils, and train students to advance BSC research.