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Fernandez Marco, Ph.D.

High School Educator

I grew up in a beautiful coastal town called Santander in Northern Spain where there are amazing mountains, green lands (it rains a lot), and pristine beaches. Santander is in the province of Cantabria, which is unofficially known as "Cantabria Verde", or "Green Cantabria".  If you look at any of the pictures of Cantabria, you can see why we had no choice but to love nature. My parents were born in different remote villages of the same province, so we were lucky to spend a lot of weekends and summers in the greenery that surrounded the city. I guess it is pretty obvious what my favorite color is.

I studied in the University of Malaga, and majored in Biology. During those years, I hiked a lot – pretty much every weekend and I realized that plants are one of the most interesting organisms to study: they make oxygen for our planet, they are able to evolve and adapt with their roots attached – how cool is that? Their diversity is amazing, and they manage to reproduce using insects, wind, and humans.

I did my Ph.D. in Plant Pathology studying the genetic diversity of viruses affecting major crops on the Southeastern region of Spain. I became really good at using white flies as vectors for the viruses.

Fast forward a few years, I moved to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow. This time I chose to work on basic research using model organisms. Arabidopsis thaliana and maize helped me to characterize mutants affecting leaf and embryonic development.

Where does my education fit into the world of teaching? My father was a middle school teacher, and ever since I can remember teaching has been a very big part of my life. While I was in high school and college, during the summer sessions I learned a lot by helping my father tutor his students.  When I moved to the United States, I taught genetics and biology at a number of colleges and universities in New York City and Long Island.

Now in 2015, I am very proud to be a part of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory DNA Learning Center making science accessible to the general public. On a personal note this is also the year my son Rohan was born. More celebrations!

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