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Dr Patricia Sanchez-Baracaldo

My research

My research seeks to understand how cyanobacteria (photosynthetic bacteria) co-evolved with the Earth's biosphere to make our planet habitable. Cyanobacteria were the first organisms to produce oxygen allowing the development of complex life. My research has shown that cyanobacteria first evolved in freshwater environments around 2.7 billion years ago. They later 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 as nitrogen, carbon and oxygen. My research looks at whether such evolutionary innovations played a role in regulating the global environment and past climatic events.

My journey

I took a career break after I had my son in 2008.  In 2011, I was awarded two Fellowships that allowed me to return back to science. It has been challenging to get established after a career break. My funding has allowed me to work part-time, allowing me to have the flexibility to combine both career and family. Part-time work gives me flexibility to do pick-ups from school each week and allows me to take more time, if needed, during school holidays. Flexible working also makes my science career more challenging, but I do treasure the time I spend with my kids after school. Balancing career and family life is a constant juggling act.