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With her degree in biology, Dr Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla left Mexico and embarked on an international career in epigenetics. She completed her PhD at the Pasteur Institute in Paris and then moved to Cambridge University. In 2006 she joined IGBMC in Strasbourg working as a group leader. She has just been appointed Director of the Institute of Epigenetics and Stem Cells of the Helmholtz Zentrum in Munich. Supported by an ERC grant, she studies the mechanisms controlling embryonic cellular plasticity with the aim of shedding new light on today's fertility issues. In this interview she shares her story as a non-European scientist in Europe.
The discovery, conquest, and subsequent colonization of the Americas gave rise to surprising, multifaceted encounters between the Old and New Worlds. These encounters were not limited to the first-contact phase or to the military subjugation of new lands by the Europeans. They have been long processes of cross-cultural communication—in which both sides participated equally—that continued to develop through the colonial and postcolonial eras up to the present day.