BMSIS Visiting Scholar: Sebastián Alejandro Valencia Meza

My name is Sebastián Alejandro Valencia Meza. I studied for my Bachelor’s Degree in Biology at the University of Sonora, where I have lived my entire life and grew my love for the desert. From the beginning of my studies, I knew I wanted to become an astrobiologist since I was passionate about an integrative vision of all sciences. However, a challenge I had to face was that there is not any astrobiological research at my University, so I chose to apply for different research internships to expose myself to this area. I participated in a research program at Biosphere 2, where I was also attending the University of Arizona, where I worked on the LEO (Landscape Evolution Observatory) project. My work consisted of analyzing the metabolites present in the soil produced by the living organisms to understand if the metabolites increase in complexity as the biological communities also increase in complexity. I presented the results in a poster at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2022. After this, I attended the VI Mexican School of Astrobiology, where Mexican astrobiology researchers introduced us to this branch of science, and future professionals in this science established connections for the future.

Finally, I concluded my studies by completing my bachelor’s thesis with an astrobiological focus. Sonora is a state located in the northwest of Mexico, bordering the state of Arizona. In its fossil record, there is a significant variability of environments and ages due to a transition between the craton of North America and the rest of the geology of Mexico. Its rocks are the oldest sedimentary rocks in the country, corresponding to the Neoproterozoic. My work consisted of using Raman spectroscopy to compare the intensity and presence of the D and G bands associated with kerogenous organic matter from 3 stromatolites of different ages (Neoproterozoic, Silurian, and Cretaceous), all from regions of Sonora, intending to see possible differences in these bands associated with fossil life. The results were presented at the 2023 National Astrobiology Congress in Mexico and the 2023 European Astrobiology Network Association in Madrid. And the preliminary results at the 2023 AbGradCon undergraduate poster competition.

I am currently a member of the Mexican Society of Astrobiology. I was and will be working with Dr. Angles studying Icelandic rocks and the trace of biosignatures, Iceland being an excellent Martian analog.

Regarding who I am outside of science, I enjoy music, philosophy, and poetry. I like to learn about food science, watch Video Essays, and any scientific communication literature. I have a Belgian Malinois dog named Lucy, and I like to drink coffee and have long conversations about any topic.