First Urcuquí-born Biologist to graduate from Yachay Tech
Lady Belén Maldonado Cuascota, a native of the Urcuquí canton, graduated as a Biologist with an academic distinction in December 2021. This achievement fills not only her family but also her hometown with pride, as she is the first Urcuqui native to graduate from this institution in the 8 years that the university has existed.
The now Biologist Maldonado, opted for this career to gain the appropriate knowledge that would allow her to know more about the origin, functioning and characteristics of living beings. An example of this is that biological sciences allow for analysis models, which have promoted development in all areas from the production of drugs, vaccines, specialized surgery, diagnosis and disease prevention. “This is inspiring because Ecuador is one of the mega diverse countries and we must take advantage of that through sciences like biology,” she mentioned.
When talking about her career, Maldonado explained that the Biology curriculum met her expectations because it provided her with the necessary tools to carry out research from the bases of theoretical knowledge to putting it into practice in the laboratories. When referring to the general experience of studying at Yachay Tech, she stated: “It is quite a challenge but the adventure has been great, in addition to the quality of education that it offers thanks to the group of research professors, the cultural diversity of the students, inclusion and a campus surrounded by nature”.
“Yachay Tech is located in a strategic place. The northern part of the country was in dire need of a new public university focused on technology and research. In addition, Imbabura is a province with great potential, especially Urcuquí, which is a magical canton due to its landscaping, climate, and security”, concluded Maldonado.
Maldonado graduated by presenting and defending her thesis on the Bioinformatic Analysis of antibodies associated with SARS-CoV-2, focusing on the variants NAbs m396, B38, CR3022, COVA2-04 and COVA2, whose neutralizing potentials and three-dimensional structures have been described in earlier work and lay the groundwork for the design of potential antiviral drugs. During the execution of this project, Maldonado was supervised by the MS.c. Mariela Pérez, professor at Yachay Tech University, and PhD. Ariela Vergara Jaque, Director of the School of Civil Engineering in Bioinformatics- University of Talca (Chile).
Her years of study concluded when she obtained her degree in Biology with a Cum Laude distinction because of her outstanding grade. In this regard, when it comes to the effort and perseverance required to achieve this, she mentions that: “Adapting to the level of Yachay Tech was not easy, since it requires a lot of organization, dedication and perseverance. But every effort pays off and graduating with an academic distinction was very gratifying for my family and for me. It was all worth it, without a doubt.”
Markus Tellkamp, Acting Rector of Yachay Tech University, expressed: “We are proud to have students from all over the country studying at Yachay. We highlight the work of Belén. Coming from the Urcuquí canton and obtaining this achievement is worthy of congratulations. Yachay Tech is bearing fruit in terms of research and innovation at the local, national and international levels”.
Maldonado plans to complete a master’s and/or PhD to become a professor-researcher in the future and to be able to contribute to her country through the application of science. “It is time to promote science and technology in Ecuador as an axis that contributes to the productive and economic improvement of the country.” Maldonado added.
Lastly, Belén pointed out: “Young people are the generation that must provide solutions and lead Ecuador to a scientific revolution. Yachay Tech is a place to continue learning. If they are curious minds, Yachay Tech is a place to ask more questions and visualize possible solutions without losing inspiration. Come and see Yachay Tech for yourselves”.