Dr Sanchez Baracaldo

Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow

School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol

Co-evolution of life and the biosphere

Sanchez Baracaldo

When Dr Sanchez Baracaldo decided to start a family, she planned to take a year off with each baby, “and I don’t regret it for a moment” she smiles. Following this she looked into funding opportunities that provide flexible sustained support and was encouraged to apply.

Today, she is back at the forefront of her field: studying the cyanobacteria whose photosynthesis provided the quantities of oxygen fundamental in the development of complex life:

“My research on the evolution of cyanobacteria has shown that photosynthesis first evolved in freshwater environments around 2.7 billion years ago. Cyanobacteria colonised marine environments independently at different times in Earth’s history. As they did so they had a profound impact on the Earth’s global nutrient cycles such nitrogen, carbon and oxygen. My research looks at whether such evolutionary innovations played a role in regulating the global environment and past climatic events.

The methodologies I use involve the analyses of large-scale multi-gene phylogenies that complement paleo-climate research. I believe that a better representation of biological systems in climate change modelling will significantly improve our predictions of climate change.”

“The Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship brings with it high expectations, and of course I want to fulfil them. But if I didn’t love challenges, I probably wouldn’t have got the Fellowship in the first place.”

Dr Sanchez Baracaldo credits her Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship with providing the flexible working patterns that helped to support her at a critical point in her career.