I’m at the highest point of the CCG. Which means that I’m in one of the highest points in all of Cuernavaca. From here I can see several of the ravines that give shape to the capital of Morelos, as well as the valley in the background and the roads that lead to Tepoztlán, Temixco, Acapulco or Mexico City. Behind the CCG runs the Sierra del Chichinautzin. Although it is characterized by being a forest of conifers, at this height of Cuernavaca, it is a forest of transition, between the conifers to the north and the dry forest to the south. Here we can see the pines coexisting with acacias, jacarandas and framboyanes.
It is Monday, 8:30 a.m., and Enrique checks if he has everything necessary to work in the laboratory. “The first thing is to water the plants after the weekend,” he tells me. “You have to measure the temperature, the humidity, see that everything is working well.” At least three of the CCG laboratories work with plants and Enrique and his colleagues take care of them all in different greenhouses. “I came to this center more than 30 years ago,” Enrique says, “before doing other jobs, but I was always interested in research. And to be learning new things. I like to work with plants in the greenhouse, and that’s why I’m still here, otherwise I would have retired. ”
While Enrique irrigates the plants and prepares the material with which he will work the rest of the week, in the same way the rest of the workers, researchers and students begin to arrive at the CCG.
Érika is one of the most recent graduates of the Doctorate Program in Biomedical Sciences (PDCB) of the CCG. On Tuesdays he arrives early for his yoga class, and then goes to his lab. “On Tuesdays we have our laboratory seminar,” Érika explains. Having a seminar a week is a normal practice within the CCG working groups, “although in reality we have several types of seminars,” Erika continues. It may be that someone presents the progress of your project, or if someone went to a conference you have to explain what you learned and what was discussed.” According to Érika, her colleagues are very proactive, and the vast majority participates and contributes during the seminars. “I like to give the seminar when I’m stuck in my projects. I like to present everything I have and finish with a how do you see it? What do you think? It’s a great opportunity, since I have the complete attention of the whole group.”
The Frontiers in Genomics seminars take place on Tuesday afternoons, sometimes in the CCG, and sometimes in the auditorium of our neighboring institute, the Institute of Biotechnology of the UNAM (IBt). “Three communities participate in border seminars: the CCG, the IBt, and the Genomic Sciences Degree (LCG)”, says Dr. Carmen, researcher of the CCG. “They tend to be very interesting because we bring researchers who do frontier science, of very varied topics.” Each semester the calendar of invited researchers is published, which responds to the topics and concerns of the three communities “but we emphasize that the students of the degree have an active and direct participation with the guests” comments Carmen. “Genomics is almost indispensable in biology research, so, regardless of the subject of the guest’s research – be it neurobiology, ecology, or evolution – in the seminary we can always discuss genomics, at the same time we learn of new models or themes.”
“On Wednesdays we meet to discuss articles,” says Maite, one of the new PDCB students. “Although the topics are always close to what we study in the laboratory,” says Maite, “you can notice that everyone has particular interests, and different ways of analyzing things.” Something that Maite enjoys is to know and understand better how her colleagues work: “I am more of the wet lab – she has gloves and pipettes in hand while loading an agarose gel – but some of my colleagues only work in silico or do theoretical work With the computer. And I like to know how they work.”
At midday several of the workers participate in a volleyball challenge that happens inside the CCG facilities. All are welcome and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere and camaraderie.
On Thursdays there is another event that usually brings together the majority of the members of the CCG, the institutional seminars. “The idea of these seminars is to strengthen the relationship between researchers,” says the director of the CCG. “New researchers are coming in, and it’s important to know each other. I think there is a lot of potential to collaborate and initiate new lines of research, “reminding us that science is an activity that takes place in community, and the more you see on a project, the more edges can polish, to make it shine everywhere. “I like to have dynamic seminars, where we can interrupt and clarify all the doubts about the projects”, concludes with a smile.
For the most competitive, on Thursday afternoons a mixed-category basketball tournament is played, where members from all the different dependencies of the Morelos campus of the UNAM participate. While there are clashes that can be called classic, and that fight with claw cougar, the day always ends in a cheerful way. These days not only unite the members of the CCG, but also colleagues biotechnologists, mathematicians and physicists from the nearby institutes.
Most graduate-level classes are usually scheduled for Friday. Classrooms in the teaching area are filled to cover topics such as Data Analysis in Evolutionary Genomics, Bacterial Physiology, or Borders of Genomics. The courses are taught by one or two CCG researchers, although sometimes they have the participation of colleagues from another institute, inside or outside the Campus Morelos.
By the time it is six o’clock in the afternoon, most of them start to return home, look for something to do in the city center, or-fortunately- the Campus Morelos office usually has a cultural proposal to distract us a bit from the science. The events have billboards as varied as rock concerts, jazz, vocal ensembles, dance, or theater.
So it goes another week, and we prepare for the next one, with more discussions, experiments, classes, and games. We know that the way to continue advancing in all these facets is together. Making community in the day to day.
Editing: Agustín B. Ávila C.
* The names of the interviewees were changed.