BMSIS Visiting Scholar: Beatriz Akiti

Hello! My name is Beatriz Akiti, I am currently finishing my studies as an undergrad student in the University of São Paulo, in Brazil.

Since I was a child, I have had a great curiosity about our own world and the worlds beyond. I loved investigating and understanding our relationships with the living beings around me and the way everything worked. Not only did this influence my interest in sustainability, but it was my great inspiration for me to pursue the field of Biology, always aiming at understanding life in our Universe.

Especially after the COVID-19 pandemic scenario, I believe in the importance and power that science can have through its communication and collaboration, an ideal that, combined with my passions, directed me towards various scientific opportunities.

At my university, I am part of Professor Fabio Rodrigues’ Astrobiology lab, working on research in the areas of microbiology of halophilic bacteria and the study of biosignatures. Between 2020 and 2021, during a period of additional difficulties due to the pandemic, I also coordinated my university’s synthetic biology team, the USP-Brazil team, which competed in the biggest global competition in the field: iGEM. With a main award-winning project that involved mitigating the effect of pesticide poisoning on bees, through the development of a plant capable of pollen-specific expression of a detoxifying enzyme, I was able to further explore the fields of molecular biology and bioinformatics, as well as scientific communication and education.

The exploration of the multiple fields of Biology led me to the summer of 2023, in which I was able to participate in the Blue Marble’s Young Scientist Program, collaborating with my mentors Dr. Shiladitya DasSarma and Priya DasSarma to study Haloarchaea using bioinformatics tools. It was a very valuable experience, which allowed me to not only meet and collaborate with people all around the world, but also learn and become even more interested in these fascinating organisms, which is why I intend to continue as a Visiting Scholar at the DasSarma Group. In parallel, I also intend to pursue graduate studies.

Astrobiology has been present in many parts of my life, in small and large ways, and I hope to continue to contribute and learn from the opportunities in the future.