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Department of Genetics


I currently lead an interdisciplinary research group at the interface of physics, chemistry, and biology, at Departments of Genetics and Chemistry. The goal of our group is to uncover biophysical mechanisms that dictate the spatiotemporal organization of chromatin, proteins, and nucleic acids inside cells in healthy and disease states. To tackle this, we develop advanced simulation techniques, which are powerful at bridging scales and investigating collective phenomena. 

My research career started in Mexico city, my home town, where I studied an undergraduate degree in Chemistry and a specialisation in High-Performance Scientific Computing at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. After that, with the support of mentors and scholarships, I did a DPhil in Theoretical Chemistry (Clarendon and ORSAS Scholar) with David Manolopoulos at the University of Oxford. In David’s group, I developed approximate quantum dynamical approaches to investigate chemical reactions in condensed-phase systems, and trained in advanced computer simulation techniques that are essential in my work still today. A sprouting interest in biology – and cannot deny it, also an urge to go back to a big cosmopolitan city like my very own Mexico city – next drove me to New York University, where I joined the group of Tamar Schilick as a Schlumberger Faculty for the Future Fellow. With Tamar, I discovered my true scientific passion – understanding chromatin organization – and learned the art and labour of love that goes into developing computer models to answer biologically relevant questions. After that, I was awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship to join the group of Modesto Orozco in Barcelona, which was not only pivotal for my training in atomistic descriptions of proteins and nucleic acids, but also, gifted me with one of my key mentors to date. 

In 2013, I moved to Cambridge as a joint postdoc with David Wales and Daan Frenkel, and right after, in 2014, I had my first child. Navigating the many challenges of being on maternity leave while trying to remain competitive scientifically was eased by the outmost support that I received from my then supervisors, and now mentors. With their encouragement and guidance, I begun to apply for independent fellowships during this period, and in 2016, I was awarded a Winton Advanced Research fellowship to start my research group. That same year, I recruited my first PhD student, funded by Winton, and then my second and third, funded by EPSRC. Starting out at Cambridge put me in an advantageous position, as despite being relatively unknown, I was able to attract extremely talented PhD students, who were able to secure their own competitive funding and helped me begin to establish our techniques and research line. In 2017, I had my second child, and took another career break for maternity. This second period of leave was also very challenging, but with the support, advice, and training from my Cambridge mentors and colleagues, in 2018 I was awarded an ERC starting grant. The grant has impacted significantly our work, as it allowed me to build a dream team and pursue challenging and exciting ideas in the new field of chromatin compartmentalization via liquid-liquid phase separation. Our group now is composed of 13 highly diverse young scientists. 

In 2020, our group moved from Physics to Genetics and Chemistry, where I became an Interdisciplinary Lecturer. Working across Departments at Cambridge has been uniquely empowering for both my research profile and my career: (1) lt has been critical to establish key collaborations with experimentalist here and around the world, which keep pushing our research to unexpected and exciting places; (2) It has provided a flexible and supporting working environment that allows me to successfully combine motherhood with managing the group, and strategize how best to “come back” after two sequential career breaks; (3) Most importantly, it has enabled me to recruit top and highly diverse young scientists right from the start, to interact daily with inspiring (and accessible) colleagues and role models that help us grow, and get to solve hard questions with incredibly motivated and bright trainees and collaborators.