Dr. Rosa Vásquez Espinoza is a chemical biologist, conservationist, TV personality, engaging public speaker, National Geographic Explorer and award-winning artist. Of Peruvian-Andean and Amazonian descent, Rosa grew up learning about traditional medicine from her grandmother in their backyard’s "natural pharmacy". Today, Rosa travels to the most extreme environments of the world including the Amazon Rainforest searching for the tiniest creatures to create big changes in the world. She collaborates with educators to integrate hands-on exploration experiences in the classroom that combine science and art. Rosa’s Ph.D. research led to the discovery of new antibiotics and biocatalysts for green and sustainable chemistry. Her work has been featured in Forbes, ABC Tamron Hall, Science Friday “20 Top Stories of 2020”, National Association of Science Writers, ASBMB, National Geographic Magazine, Andina Perú, and more.
Through her Peru-based non-profit organization, Amazon Research Int, Rosa created MicroAmazon, a multidisciplinary project that explores the micro-world of the Amazon in collaboration with local experts and universities. Currently, she investigates the Peruvian Boiling River and its heat-loving microbes, and Amazonian stingless bees and their medicinal honey. MicroAmazon aims to expand the Earth’s microbial biodiversity by discovering undocumented species, investigating their potential to produce new chemistry (including life-saving antibiotics and cancer-fighting drugs), and providing insightful details about the evolution of Amazonian life. The mission includes communicating the importance and urgency of biodiversity conservation of these fragile and biologically rich areas for a more sustainable future.