The Next Generation of Galapagos Scientists

What motivates young people to become scientists? Meet Maricruz Jaramillo and Samoa Asigau, two young women scientists from opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean, whose professional aspirations have taken them to the Galapagos Islands. Science reporter Véronique LaCapra joined Mari and Samoa in the Galapagos, where they are studying a type of malaria that is affecting native bird populations.

001_Mari_and_SamoaMaricruz Jaramillo (standing) and Samoa Asigau wait for their ride back to the Charles Darwin Research Station after an early morning of catching birds in an agricultural area on Santa Cruz Island.

002_Male_yellow_warbler (1)Samoa holds a male yellow warbler that was caught in a mistnet. Each bird gets weighed and measured, and a small blood sample is taken from underneath one wing to test later for malaria.

004_Mari_measures_warblerMari measures the wing of a male yellow warbler. This species of warbler is endemic to the Galapagos.

006_Samoa_and_Mari_Media_LunaSamoa (left) and Mari look out over the mist-covered hillside at Media Luna, a peak about 2,000 feet above sea level on the island of Santa Cruz. A reddish, broad-leafed shrub called Miconia robinsoniana dominates the landscape.

008_Samoa_age_7 001_Mari_in_tree

Samoa (L) says growing up in Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby, she thought of herself as a “fancy city girl.” She is 7 years old in this family snapshot. Mari (R) has always loved being close to nature.

This episode was produced and reported by St. Louis Public Radio science reporter Véronique LaCapra in 2013 for our STEM Story Project. It was mixed for Transistor by Erika Lantz. All photos (except childhood photos courtesty of the scientists) by Véronique LaCapra.

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