Rosa Palmer – International Women and Girls in Science Day

Rosa Palmer – Senior Biologist and Latin American Lead

I have loved science and animals since I was little. I am originally from Peru and although I completed my bachelor’s in a great university in Peru, back then, there weren’t many grad school opportunities related to wildlife conservation or management. I worked hard through school and got into a master’s program at the University of Arizona. Although grad school in a different country, away from family, and going through personal challenges was difficult, I continued working hard and took advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves and was supported by new friends.

I was lucky to have an amazing advisor who really cared, supported me, and taught me so much. Grad school provided the foundation to do all the things I have been able to do throughout my career. In addition to my grad advisor, I was lucky to meet two more great scientists and mentors, one when I worked with black-capped vireos in Texas, and one at WEST. It is interesting that these three role models and mentors are men and I think it is important to recognize the role that mentors can play for women. I also have an amazing husband who is also a wildlife biologist and is my biggest cheerleader. I am a mom of a nine-year-old boy and although there have been many challenging days, the help and support from my husband and my hard work has been important to my personal and professional growth.

My career in science has allowed me to work with small mammals, penguins, and fur seals on the coast of Peru, tree squirrels in the Amazon and mountains of Arizona, bats in the Dominican Republic, endangered species in the US, and much more. I have been able to travel, publish scientific papers, and attend conferences in different countries. Although I miss spending time in the field chasing wildlife, I still love my work and using my knowledge and experience to help clients as well as mentoring, teaching, and supporting others, including other women in science who are early in their careers. Being a woman in science is not easy, being a Latina in science is not easy, being a mom in science is not easy, but having role models, mentors, colleagues, friends, and family who support you is very important and makes it a little easier.”