Gabby Moreno: Science inspires across cultures

student in Costa Rica jungle
“There is so much to be learned from nature, but there is even more to be learned from the knowledge that is fostered within the indigenous people of the land. I am forever inspired by everything I’ve experienced in this jungle.” – Gabby Moreno on her work with the Ngäbe tribe from southern Costa Rica and Panama

By Natalie Choules

She’s wanted to be a marine biologist since she was 6.woman with bug on arm

She’s pursuing a degree in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology with a concentration in fish and aquatics.

Gabby Moreno is an adventurer.

“I think it’s my best quality because without it, I wouldn’t be here,” she said.

“Here” is Costa Rica, where Moreno is spending her summer doing research on the morphology and behavioral characteristics of freshwater crabs as part of the Research Experience for Undergraduates program. Moreno says the subject is understudied, so she decided to branch out and try something new.

She’s already making discoveries. When Moreno and her partner found a crab that didn’t fit the usual description, they spent an entire day trying to identify it. She believes that learning new things in new places is a vital part of global development.

“I think it’s really important to get an idea of how people outside the U.S. picture conservation and sustainability in order to fully understand the subject as a whole,” she said.

Moreno is inspired by her new surroundings in Costa Rica. She has met people from all across the world. She values the program’s focus on unrepresented students and how it gives her the chance to observe other women in science doing the same kind of work that she is. While her new surroundings are very different, Moreno has been surprised by how many similarities she has observed.

“I’ve been inspired by how science can translate between cultural barriers,” she said. “In order to move forward in science, let alone conservation, people need to be able to understand the systems that surround us.”

Spending time researching abroad has given her the opportunity to explore diverse scientific perspectives and has broadened her ability to communicate more inclusively and effectively. Moreno hopes that she can keep exploring her passion for aquatic biology by continuing to research abroad after she graduates.