ECR Spotlight Series: Maria Rebolleda-Gomez

In an effort to showcase and amplify the voices of early career researchers in ecology, evolution, and behavior, we are sharing their stories, in their own words.

Dr. Maria Rebolleda-Gomez

Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Irvine

Tell us a little about your journey as an ECR, from when you decided you wanted to pursue science to your graduate study to your current appointment at UC Irvine? In particular, what first sparked your interest in studying the evolutionary ecology of microbial communities?

In Mexico, you choose the rough equivalent of a major from the start of your college education, and your major shapes all of the classes you will take (if you major in biology, all of your classes are related to biology). I wanted to be a historian, to work in art preservation, to study biology or chemistry. But I think nothing puzzled me more than the origin of life and the evolution of complexity. At the time, I wanted to do molecular biology because I was fascinated by the complexity of the eukaryotic cell. I have moved in multiple directions in biology ever since, but I think those questions are still motivating my research in different ways. I had a few classes in college that shaped my interests and the directions of my career. One of these classes was on prokaryotic biology – learning about all the cool things prokaryotes can do, and all of the environments they can survive in made me fall in love with bacteria!

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