La investigadora predoctoral de la University Mohammed V of Rabat, Mouna El Qendouci, realiza una estancia de investigación gracias a la beca de la Fundación Mujeres por África y el Campus Mare Nostrum

10 mar 2023

Logo Fundación Mujeres por África


La estudiante ha recibido una beca realizar una estancia de investigación bajo la dirección de la Profesora Mª Angeles Esteban. Mouna ha querido compartir con la comunidad universitaria esta carta sobre la oportunidad que la Universidad de Murcia le ha brindado desde el Campus Mare Nostrum.

I feel so lucky and so privileged to be selected for this year's program LEARN AFRICA from « Fundación MujeresxAfrica ». This internship is designed to encourage women in science, especially African women. In fact, I am glad to note that during my experience I was surrounded by especially radiant women scientists which is a testimony to the importance of women in science. My first contact was with the coordinator of the Campus, Ms. María Jesús Periago Castón, who welcomed me with a big smile and a lot of kindness. I would like to express my gratitude and deep respect to her. I would also like to thank the Mare Nostrum Campus for the warm welcome I have received since my arrival at the University of Murcia.

The researcher is a passionate and creative being, who constantly strives to innovate and expand his knowledge. But to be motivated first thing in the morning and to maintain your enthusiasm, you also need good mentors and supportive colleagues. I am grateful to all the people in the Department of Cell biology and Histology who gave me the time and attention to work in the best conditions. First of all, I would like to thank my supervisor, Ms. María Ángeles Esteban, who is an inspiring woman who did everything possible to create a stimulating work environment for me ! She was very educational as she took her time to explain to me all the tasks I had to perform and guided me throughout my internship. I must also admit that all the members of the laboratory were benevolent, competent and very attentive. The team had the particularity to welcome many international students and researchers, which shows a great sharing of scientific knowledge.  

Each new study project reinforces my conviction that I have found my way. The relentless pursuit of innovation is what drives me forward in my life and my career as a scientist. Today, my goal was to broaden my knowledge in a very important current theme which is aquaculture and immunology. During this 5 months internship at the Department of Cell biology and Histology at the Faculty of Biology of the University of Murcia, I had the opportunity to be involved in many research works and to acquire new knowledge and skills. These will be very valuable for the realization of my future projects.

In countries with a high fisheries potential, the current trend is to use the resources for aquaculture production taking into account the many factors that can predispose fish to compromised growth, immunity and overall health. Fish stress is a major concern in the aquaculture industry. The work I did in the department involved a very important component for sustainable aquaculture which is the determination of inflammation mechanisms in fish of commercial interest. At the Faculty of Biology aquarium, different species of fish are cultured to examine their inflammatory responses and immunity status.

During my scientific career, I did not have the opportunity to work on live fish as my research was more based on stock management which is done on a larger time scale. Thus, I was able to acquire knowledge on preventive procedures and technical conditions to maintain live species in an environment favorable to their survival. These must meet numerous hygiene and quality standards. During this internship, I participated in different stages and experimental protocols from data collection to immune and genetic studies. The work I did consisted in exposing fish specimens in different environments for a given period of time to evaluate their immune responses to pathogens. This topic was of particular interest to me since marine resources are constantly under threat from chemical contaminants such as chemical and urban by-products, pharmaceuticals, drug metabolites and plastics that are permanently present in the oceans. Samples from different parts of the fish were taken in order to see the expression of genes related to the immune system and the development of the inflammatory process. Throughout the internship, I assisted in different techniques for the treatment of samples in the tissue culture and image analysis department of the ACTI building (Área Científica y Técnica de Investigación) as well as in the internal laboratory (histological and genetic analyses) of the Biology Department.

I can say that the internship perfectly meets my expectations. I now have both field and laboratory experience that gives me the opportunity to improve and apply the skills I have learned.

Given the limited number of women scientists in the world in general and in Africa in particular, this program is of great importance and presents a golden opportunity. Later, I will apply this knowledge to my work as a researcher to achieve my academic and professional goals.

Finally, I would like to send a small positive message to all women scientists who contribute in one way or another to the advancement of science and I strongly encourage them to participate in this program which presents a great springboard for their career.