STEM Around the Globe-Argentina
The field of STEM is an ever-changing industry that highlights many of the world’s brightest people. In this section of STEM10, we will dive deep into the most innovative leaders on a global scale, focusing on a new country and their selected individual.
For this issue of STEM Around the Globe, we decided to cover Irene Bernasconi, an Argentinian marine biologist who specialized in echinoderm studies. Bernasconi was born on September 29, 1896, and while not much is known about her early life, her exploration in the Antarctic was extensively covered.
At age 72, Bernasconi and three other women made headlines. They were the first Argentine people to have conducted research in the cold continent. Sailing in a cargo ship, the women were hand-selected from the Bernardino Rivadavia Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences for their individual specialties, with Bernasconi’s being echinoderm, or starfish.
"We have waited for this all our lives,” the women said before departing from Buenos Aires (1).
Unfortunately, they were not immune to the dangers of the cold weather. The last expedition to the base that Bernasconi was headed towards was over five years ago, meaning that the crew also had to restore it on top of the time they spent working (2).
During their time in Antarctica, the women along with 12 scuba divers, managed to dive a total of 47 times, ultimately gaining samples from as low as 150 meters of water (2).
Bernasconi and her team stayed in the Arctic for two months collecting water, mud and flora and fauna to find an expansive group of 2,000 echinoderm species. All the while, the crew faced the challenge of the harsh temperatures. For their brave and draining work, the women today are recognized in the Argentine Antarctic cartography.
Bernasconi passed away on July 9, 1989 at the age of 93. Yet, her work will live on forever. Her research was not only groundbreaking, but it was a huge contribution in minimizing the gender disparity in the STEM community. Now, in 2021, we feel Bernasconi’s impacts, especially when writing about her impressive work in a STEM magazine created by four women with just as much of a passion for the field.
1 Tribute to the first argentine female scientists in Antarctica. (2018, March 08). Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://www.cancilleria.gob.ar/en/news/releases/tribute-first-argentine-female-scientists-antarctica
2 Testolin, P. (2018, March 19). 8M: Las CIENTÍFICAS pioneras QUE Hicieron HISTORIA en LA ANTÁRTIDA. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://aconcagua.lat/hacer/8m-las-cientificas-pioneras-hicieron-historia-la-antartida/