Daniela Centron is a Senior Researcher in Microbiology in CONICET, Director of the Research Institute of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), and Professor at the prestigious Faculty of Medicine of the UBA in Argentina. Also an FTHub Forest Bathing Guide, a brilliant mind and great adventurer.
A true living Travel Guide as well as an outstanding international scientist, Daniela has combined research and teaching with prolonged scientific surveys in majestic landscapes of Argentinean national parks and many others from around the world. She is also one of only three women in the world studying a particular component of mobile DNA taking the environment as a biological model.
“Since I was a child I was always in contact with different types of natural environments. I grew up near the sea, and on weekends or summer, winter or Easter vacations in Uruguay I used to go to my grandparents’ farm and to a seaside resort where we used to build tree houses with my brothers and cousins. In one of those houses, there was a maritime pine tree with a very strange shape, called ‘the Fairy Tree‘ by my father and uncle, with whom they had also spent their childhood. To be there with my siblings and cousins was to feel that that’s where life happened, that that’s where home was.
“When I was 10 years old, I routinely played with one of my cousins with a children’s chemistry set she had been given. I loved the mixing of colors and a liquid suddenly becoming viscous. It was one of those days when I decided that I was going to be a scientist, and that drive was very strong for a long time, and it led me to pursue a career in biology. I wanted to live most of the time surrounded by nature and the animals and plants that inhabit it. I never regretted it: this career takes me and took me where I wanted to go”.
“As a microbiologist I specialized in the molecular study of the dissemination of antibiotic resistance, investigating mobile DNA and the mechanisms of Horizontal Gene Transfer, and in particular integrons. Some time ago I had a meeting with 3 female Uruguayan colleagues at an international congress, one who lives in Australia, another who lives in Uruguay and myself – an Uruguayan living in Argentina -, and we were the only women who presented papers on the subject. Although there was an Australian pioneer, we realized that we were also pioneers, and we laughed saying that to work on this topic you had to be Uruguayan, since the rest of the people working on it were men.
“I approached Forest Therapy Hub out of a personal need to be able to deepen my own contact with nature. And then I was seduced by their proposal: contact with nature is very personal, it is something unique and different for each person. It seems to me that FTHub respects that and gives tools for each person to find their own way, without judging if it is deep or not, if it is intense or subtle, but just looking for the particular way in which this contact takes place”.
Respect for freedom as the tip of the iceberg
“In Science we often talk about the tip of the iceberg, and I think that is what Forest Therapy Hub tries to show, a part of the contact, so that what is on the plane of the unknown or uncontacted in this case with nature, is the path for each of us, in our personal search, to investigate, unravel and travel.
“This freedom that I found in his proposal awakened my interest in becoming a Forest Bathing Guide, because at the beginning it was not my intention, but today I see it as a possibility. It leads me to be interested in the urban environment, where people do not have access to large portions of green spaces but they do have a great need for them, for that connection with nature”.
Ph: Courtesy Daniela Centron and FTHub.