C r i s t i n a ’ s   P e r s o n a l   B a c k g r o u n d

Like many biologists, I began to be interested in forms and organisms by finding and collecting them—in my case, at the beach. I grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Ipanema beach was my first field site. Later, I started to enjoy being in contact with more pristine, undeveloped shores around Rio state. But my fascination with biology really awoke while I spent time diving around islands near a town called Angra dos Reis, where the water is calm, warm and one doesn’t need much more than a snorkel to enjoy the fish, sponges, reefs, etc., that flourish there.

Although in college I was never a good student in physics and chemistry, I did enjoy the ecology, botany and zoology classes. During these college years, I took many summer courses and was trained as a fish biologist in the Rio State Fishery Agency. So, while still in college, I got an idea of how biologists work, in the field and in laboratories. Early, then, I decided I wanted to be in the field!

Although Rio was an interesting place to be at the time, I was anxious to travel and see different parts of the world. In 1983, when I graduated from college, two friends and I planned to attend a meeting in Manaus, a city in the middle of the Amazon and future jumping-off point for "Live from the Rainforest". This trip would give us an opportunity to visit an area about which I had been very curious. Plane tickets were very expensive at that time and my friends gave up the trip. But I was determined to go and, as the daughter of an airline captain, I was able to swing a free ticket and so went by myself. Three months after the meeting, I moved to Manaus to start my master’s in the Aquatic Biology program at the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia (INPA), with a four year scholarship from the Brazilian Government. And here I am still!

Cristina’s Journals Personal Background    1