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March 8 is International Women’s Day, a global day to celebrate the achievements of women everywhere, raise awareness about continued discrimination based on gender, and take action to promote gender parity. The Galapagos Initiative is home to incredible female leaders and scientists; since the Galapagos Science Center (GSC) was founded in 2011, over 50 women have led research across more than 74 research projectsToday, we celebrate International Women’s Day with Salomé Jaramillo Gil, a PhD student at UNC.

Salomé Jaramillo Gil in a GSC lab, wearing a lab coat and using a pipette.

Salomé, who is also a Fulbright scholar, is pursuing a PhD in biology and studying hammerhead sharks and eagle rays in the Galapagos. In particular, she studies the migration and behavior of these animals and the way that their migration patterns relate to oceanographic features, with the ultimate goal of being able to predict these movements in order to further conservation efforts of the species. 

In addition to her invaluable experience working with the sharks and rays, Salomé stresses the value of the collaboration possible through UNC’s commitment to partnership, including with USFQ through the GSC. “Collaborating with an interdisciplinary team of scientists from Ecuador, Colombia, and the USA, whose expertise ranged from ecology and modeling to fisheries and genetics, allowed us to develop a more comprehensive work,” she said. 

Both within and outside of the sciences, there are a lot of women that Salomé has looked up to throughout her career. An early hero was Sylvia Earle, a “visionary marine biologist” dedicated to conservation. More recently, Salomé has been inspired by Diana Trujillo and Katya Echazarreta, two Latina “trailblazers” at NASA, and Tatiana Calderón, a Formula One racer who “shattered barriers” in the sport.  

Regarding International Women’s Day, Salomé says, “I recognize the significance of International Women’s Day for honoring extraordinary women’s achievements. However, I celebrate women’s achievements and advocate for gender equality every day, actively supporting and applauding their success, especially in traditionally male-dominated fields.” 

Salomé looks to a future of greater equality for women everywhere: “True progress lies in making respect and equality the norm, not just an annual event. Let’s create a society where respect and equality for all genders are the norm, not just an aspiration.”

By Andy Little ‘24

Read our full International Women’s Day story here.

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