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Alicia Pérez-Porro, PhD

Scientist - Change Maker

President of ECUSA - President of RAICEX - '500 Women Scientists' leader - Aspen Scholar 2019


Who I Am


Marine biologist connecting the ocean, gender equality and science diplomacy for a sustainable future.

I am the President of the Association for Spanish Scientists in USA (ECUSA) and the President of the Network of Societies of Spanish Researchers Abroad (RAICEX), part of '500 Women Scientists​' leadership team, an Environmental Sciences adjunct professor at Baruch College (CUNY), and a Research Associate at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution). My research focuses on unveiling adaptation mechanisms of marine invertebrates to a changing ocean, with special emphasis in marine sponges. In 2018, I was selected to participate in the largest, all-female expedition to Antarctica as part of the Homeward Bound global initiative, and was awarded the Spanish Red Cross Gold Medal for my efforts advocating for gender equality as a key part of the solution to our climate crisis. I am a 2019 Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar and a 2018 92Y Women inPower fellow. I am also a #scicomm lover, a former professional dancer, and a mom.


Homeward Bound Project

Mother nature needs her daughters

My research

A spongy passion for the ocean

My story

Why oceans?

I grew up in Barcelona and Sa Tuna, Spain, a beautiful mediterranean paradise where my grandparents taught me to swim, fish, and love the sea and its creatures. 


Why sponges?

Wanting to spend as much time as possible next to the ocean, I studied Biology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. I received a fellowship to study in Costa Rica, where I also worked for The Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Foundation, and interned at the Center for Research in Marine Sciences and Limnology. Most importantly, Costa Rica introduced me to sponges--one of the first animals that has historically (and recently again started to) dominated our seas and has much to teach us about both cancer and climate change.


Why research?

Back from Costa Rica and determined to learn more about marine sponges, I interned at the Center for Advanced Studies of Blanes in Spain under the supervision of Dr. María J. Uriz. This turned into a MSc and quickly a PhD.

Realizing the benefit of studying abroad in undergrad, I did a "short stay" at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, USA, with Dr. Gonzalo Giribet to apply a groundbreaking, computational science technique to biology. The "short stay" turned into more than four years at Harvard pioneering novel research techniques in my field and deepening my understanding of a scientific career.


After defending my PhD in 2014, I moved to Washington, D.C. to work with the Smithsonian Institution's IZ Department under the supervision of Dr. Allen G. Collins. In 2017, after a short stay in my hometown, Barcelona, I moved to New York city where I currently live.


Why gender issues?

Since the very beginning of my career I found myself in uncomfortable situations simply because I was a woman. Many of them I was unsure how to handle. Wanting to learn and help others learn from my experience, I became interested in the role of women in science. This interest continued to grow and is now a large part of my professional life. I now give lectures to scientists and non-scientists alike, founded the Commission of Women in Science-MECUSA at ECUSA, and I am part of the leadership team of '500 Women Scientists'.

Why #leadHERship?

Shortly after starting my professional adventure in advocacy for gender equality in STEM I realized about the importance of women occupying leadership positions, both inside and outside academia. That is how I got involved with the Homeward Bound Project, by being one of the 100 women that in 2018 were part of the largest all-female expedition to Antarctica to, among other things, claim the key role of women in STEM in leadership positions as a key part of the solution to the climate emergency that we are facing. My interest for women in leadership positions expanded after that experience and got me selected to be a 2018 92Y Women InPower fellow.


Inspired by all the brilliant women surrounding me I decided to take a step forward and nominate myself as president of ECUSA, getting selected in February, 2019.


What do I want my future to hold?

I want my future to be a combination of marine science and gender issues. I am interested in policy, science diplomacy, conservation and research.

Contact Me