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Alvaro Daniel Fernandez


  • Time Zone
    Centra European Time

  • Organization
    Ghent University VIB

  • Role
    Scientist Mentor: I will mentor teams of students online

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    I am a postdoc interested in plant stresses and plant - pathogen interactions and how plants can cope with them and can counteract. Particularly I am trying to understand how plant feels these stresses and signals using fluorescent sensors and how some proteins are activated or induced. This allows me to use fascinating techniques to see the plant cell in real time and detect the responses using -omics approaches.

  • Profile Question 1
    When and why did you decide to go into a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    When I was in my high school I had a very enthusiastic teacher of Biology. The way he looked at nature, specially plants, was fascinating and I could realize that there are many open questions we still do not know about and that somewhere in the world there is a person trying to answer these complex questions. Some people are walking in a tropical forest identifying unclassified species and others are in a lab trying to understand what happens to organisms under certain stress conditions. Once you are there and observe a certain result you might be the first human seeing that process or that plant. This blew my mind, thinking that the science you see in movies are not that far from the chair where you are sitting at the sofa, and that there are real and normal people performing it. In that exactly moment a new unexplored universe called Science open in front of me and I knew I wanted to try myself and do research.

  • Profile Question 2
    What was the first science experiment you ever designed? How did it turn out?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    My first experiment at College was a PCR. It failed horribly. We needed to amplify one gene from a tomato plant and part of the experiment was designed from a graduate student so I want to think it was all right. We managed to extract the DNA but when we run a get we got a wavy shape without lanes and a blob in the middle (if you search for PCR gel and imagine the opposite that is likely similar to what we got). I must say that now I can do this quite good and I still do not know what I did wrong in my first experiment. Some of my students come with horrible results the first day but it will be hard to overcome my gel. I usually encourage them to retry it since I am the living example that practice makes perfection, or at least it improves over time.

  • Profile Question 3
    What is a typical day like for you?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    Days can be very different, in the lab there are many different things to do . Generally, I allow myself to have some time after a cup of coffee to walk my dog or go jogging early in the morning. Then I cycle to the lab, I rapidly check emails and quickly start lab work. This include checking my Arabidopsis or Nicotiana plants in the greenhouse and perform some treatments, for example wounding treatments and extract material to analyse afterwards (DNA, proteins or metabolites). Sometimes we need an expert to analyse some data so we have to meet them and explain what we really want to get. Every day I can learn something new! I do lots of fluorescence microscopy so I spend many hours in a dark room watching lights coming from cells illuminated by a laser. Seeing life imaging and the dynamics inside of a cell is really captivating. Of course I have other monotonous tasks and sometimes we need to repeat experiments many times to be sure of our results. In the evening I like to relax doing any activity with friends / watch TV / support my football (soccer) team - sometimes this is worse than lab results. In general I like what I do in he lab, is a very interesting environment where you can acquire many skills and knowledge while enjoying my profession.

  • Availability
    I am currently available for mentoring, please send me team match invitations

  • Capacity: How many teams at a time are you comfortable working with?

Recent Posts

camsdavispgstfall2020 project 9 Alvaro Daniel Fernandez

Hi there,

I enjoyed reading the details of the potatoes. But could you describe the specific conditions you used to inoculate and the temperature treatments? Did you incubate in light or dark? I think dark should be the best option since it…

camsdavispgstfall2020 project 9 Alvaro Daniel Fernandez

Hi Sam,

Doing what you love is the best gift ever. When I was small my sister and I used to record the songs we liked from the radio on a cassette and played it afterwards! It is wuite funny to listen to that nowadays. My first CD…

camsdavispgstfall2020 project 9 Alvaro Daniel Fernandez

Hi Natalie,

Never heard of the book nor the movie. But you gave me some ideas for next weekend :)

Really happy you are interested in plant science. Did you know that although plants do not have neurons they can "feel". And they do it…


Skills & Endorsements

  • Challenges Student Thinking
    Kristen Stiem
  • Encouraging
    Kristen Stiem
  • Knowledgeable
    Kristen Stiem
  • Responsive
    Kristen Stiem


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NSF_Logo.jpg This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant #2010556 and #1502892. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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