Beatriz Navarro Dominguez

Postdoctoral Research Associate, The Presgraves and Larracuente Labs

You work in a laboratory.  What are you currently researching?

I work in both the Presgraves and Larracuente labs and am interested in the evolution of selfish DNA, which is a general term to describe several kinds of genetic elements that spread within the populations without contributing to the fitness of the organisms carrying them.  I am currently working on population genomics and transposable element load of the Segregation Distorter (SD) system of Drosophila melanogaster, a gene complex that achieves high transmission rates to offspring causing alterations during meiosis in its favor and in detriment of other genes. I am also interested in the roles of satellite DNA and transposable elements in hybrid incompatibilities between related species of Drosophila.

What was it that originally sparked your interest in biology?

When I was in high school, my interests were so broad that I really had a hard time deciding what to study.  At college, I wanted to study everything from Humanities to Informatics.  Then I took a course on molecular biology and I thought I wanted to learn more about DNA, that self-replicating molecule that is able to encode information and plays such an important role in the evolution of life.  Following that path is what brought me here.

What’s the most important thing that you’ve learned working here and/or studying biology?

The most important thing I learned as a grad student was to accept criticism and mistakes and use them to learn and grow, both as a person and as a scientist.  I have also learned that, in biology, being motivated by the question you want to answer is the most satisfying way to go, despite not always being the easiest method.

How do you think our department stands out in comparison to other universities?

I am relatively new to the department and, as an introvert, I appreciate very much that the vibe here is very friendly and inclusive. The research standards for the department are outstanding, and the quality of the speakers in the weekly seminars is also very high. This is a good place to learn.

How do you unwind when you’re not in the lab?

I like going to the movies and playing board games and role-playing games. I enjoy spending time with my husband—we love live music shows!  In the summer time we also go to a lot of festivals.  I am learning how to play the ukulele; so far I am not good at all but it is a lot of fun.