Name Kathrin Marquez
Known for bat research
|Years active 2002–|
Kathrin Barboza Marquez (born 1983) is a Bolivian biologist who is an expert in bat research. In 2006, she and a research partner discovered a species thought to be extinct and in 2010, she was awarded the National Geographic's "Young Explorer Grant". She became the first Bolivian scientist to win a L'Oréal-UNESCO Fellowship for Women in Science in 2012 and in 2013 was named by the BBC as one of the top ten Latin American women of science.
Kathrin Barboza Marquez was born in 1983 and grew up in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She attended the Universidad Mayor de San Simón (UMSS) studying at the Center of Biodiversity and Genetics. She continued her education to earn a Masters in Biology and Conservation of Tropical Areas from the Menéndez Pelayo International University. The degree program was offered by the Higher Council for Scientific Research of Spain, but classes were completed in Quito in a cooperative study arrangement with the Central University of Ecuador.
In 2006, Barboza and a colleague, Aideé Vargas, rediscovered a species thought to have been extinct in Bolivia for 72 years. The species, known as the Bolivian sword-nosed bat (Lonchorhina aurita) is now protected in an area of the Santa Cruz Department known as the Ecological Sanctuary of the Town of San Juan de Corralito located in the Ángel Sandoval Province. It was the first area specifically designated to protect a species of bat in Latin America. Barboza won a 2007 grant to conduct research at Barro Colorado Island in Panama from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Her project focused on the forest and island borders' effects on the habitat of the island bat population. Upon completion of her work in Panama, Barboza won the 2009 National Georgraphic, Young Explorer Scholarship Grant. She used the scholarship funds to conduct research on the acoustics of bats in the Beni Savanna of northern Bolivia. She created one of the first libraries of echolocation frequencies for insectivorous bats in Bolivia. In addition, she and other scientists conducted a study of ectoparasites on the bat population of the savanna. No comprehensive study had ever been conducted on parasitism of bat colonies. The scientists used mist nets to capture and release their study subjects over a five-month period at the Spirit Wildlife Refuge. As a result, they have cataloged more than 20 morphotypes of mites and ticks and studies are on-going to identify the remaining samples.
Since 2010, Barboza has traveled to many countries and taught about the bio-acoustics of bats and their benefits to society. Primarily, the two types of bats are those that are insect-eating and those that pollinate plants. Those that eat insects provide important pest-control services and zoomophilous plants include the agave from which tequila is made, as well as mangoes, bananas and guavas. In 2012, she was awarded one of the L'Oréal-UNESCO Fellowships for Women in Science and became the first Bolivian to win the award. She used her award to further her study of the ultrasound spectrum of bats, which is not within the human hearing range. The manner of the call, frequency, duration and pulse-intervals are recorded to determine whether bats are communicating or are searching for food, but are also logged to determine which species live in certain areas. As part of her doctorate research, Barboza studied the bat species in Madrid, in conjunction with the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, where 27 of the native bat species are endangered. After her research in Madrid was complete, Barboza returned to Cochabamba to finish the work on her PhD and participate in projects with the Conservation of Bats in Bolivia project and the Latin American Network for the Conservation of Bats. In 2013, she was named as one of the ten leading women scientists of Latin America by the BBC.