Gisela Garcia-Alvarez
Research Fellow, Programme in Neuroscience & Behavioural Disorders

After my first postdoctoral research stint in Paris, I made the decision to move to Asia as I was not ready to settle down in Europe yet. That was 5 years ago and I still remember my first day at the new Duke-NUS campus. 

Since then, I have worked on the Drosophil and Mice models with Assoc Professors Wang Hongyan and Asst Prof Marc Fivaz respectively under the Program in Neuroscience and Behavioral Disorders.

Enjoying a cool morning walk at the Singapore Botanic Gardens

I am grateful for the warm and humid weather in Singapore because I am able to enjoy outdoor sports which I prefer over gym workouts. From the day I landed, I joined the Spanish Armada Dragon Boat Team and training with them has become part and parcel of my life here. I also enjoy hiking but since there are not many hiking opportunities here, parks, gardens and reservoirs have become my favorite places. I especially love the green landscape. 

While there have been considerable efforts to clean up the waterways in Singapore for the past 10 years, I hope that one day, we will be able to carry out our diving expeditions nearer to Singapore’s coastline.  In the meantime, I shall continue to take my passion for diving along with me wherever I travel.  I am also glad to see that ecotourism is on a rise and there is a growing consciousness regarding importance of maintaining precious water sources.

Gisela with the Spanish Armada Dragon Boat Team at Kallang Basin. Can you spot her?

Diving trip at Sipadan, a beautiful island off the coast of East Malaysia

My lifestyle is what I will describe as imperfect but consciously green.  I am from Barcelona and recycling is part of our everyday life. Back home, we have selective garbage containers and mobile recycling stations for items ranging from plastics, cartons, glass, light bulbs, electronic devices, batteries to expired medications!  The young and old are educated on the importance of waste management and are rewarded with attractive discount vouchers for their recycling efforts. 

Recycling facilities in Barcelona

Naturally, I am surprised that many of my neighbors here do not question how the rubbish is disposed of after it goes down the garbage chute.  It is shocking to know that more than 90% of the disposed rubbish is burned without even being recycled! In my building, our apartment keeper manually sorts out the discarded items.  Fortunately, things have since improved with the provision of recycle bins to collect unwanted plastics, glass and paper. Whenever my parents visit me, I still ask them to take back my used batteries and coffee capsules to recycle.  Although there is much to be done on recycling locally, awareness is slowly growing.

If you need a head start to do your part for the environment, why not celebrate World Environmental Day on June 5?  This year’s theme is climate change and its impact on ‘Small Islands and Climate Change’.  It would be difficult to deny that human activities have the most impact on climate change. We can help our environment and preserve resources, one change at a time.