03 March 2020

An increasingly connected talent network

A new era has begun for the ”la Caixa” Fellows Association. After the elections on 31st January, the new board led by José Miguel Pulido (the United States, 1996) is now rolling out its programme for the next four years.


One of its main objectives is summarised by the campaign slogan “Multiplying Network Effects”. And so we spoke to the members of the new board so that they themselves could promote the association by introducing us to other people they have met thanks to being ”la Caixa” fellows.  Over two articles, we will share some of their experiences.


For example, José Miguel, who has extensive business experience in the world of telecommunications, told us about Damián Roca (Severo Ochoa PhD, 2013), who he met at the 2019 Becari@s Knowledge Day in Barcelona. Damián is the founding member of the technical team of Consilient Labs Inc. in Silicon Valley, a technological startup working on artificial intelligence, and also CEO and founder of Tocat Labs in Majorca. “All this time we have kept in touch and I have been able to introduce him to other fellows who are venture capital investors to explore the possibility of investing in his project”, José Miguel told us.


”la Caixa” fellows study or work, or have done so, in over 24 countries. However, many of them are Spanish and it is in Spain where most opportunities to keep in touch arise. Anna Ferré (Spain, 2018), a member of the new board, introduced us to Belén de Sancristóbal (Spain, 2018), who, like her, is doing her postdoctoral studies thanks to a Junior Leader fellowship. Anna is doing research into the formation and evolution of galaxies and Belén is investigating sleeping disorders. What unites them is the pleasure of talking with other “exceptional scientists”, as Anna describes Belén. Many of these conversations take place at association events, which many attend with a wish to “either talk about insomnia or to discuss more profound questions”, says Anna.


In the case of Ernesto Oyarbide (United Kingdom, 2015), also a member of the new board, what surprised him about Rodrigo Fernández Touza (Unites States, 2018) was his “great ability to get to know people from different disciplines, taking an interest in what they do and identifying common ground with his research field”. Rodrigo is an MBA/MPA candidate at Stanford Graduate School of Business and at Harvard Kennedy School, where he develops technological applications to combat mass poverty. “He is someone with a big future ahead of him”, said Ernesto.


On the orientation trip for his year, Toni Brasó (United States, 2016) met another fellow with plans to go far through his work. This was Manuel Ramos (United States, 2016), with whom he shared two years at Stanford and who became a friend and an inspiration to him. Manuel was studying a master’s in international politics and later worked as a consultant in Kenya for the World Bank. He currently works as a research analyst, carrying out impact evaluations at the same organisation, but is now based in Washington. According to Antoni, “Manu is completely committed to making sure that future generations, especially in developing countries, have the greatest possible opportunities”, a commitment that he believes “personifies the values that ”la Caixa” promotes”.


Valle Palomo Ruiz (Spain, 2018), who has a master’s in organic chemistry and is also a member of the board, talked to us about her contemporary Isabel Dorado Liñán (Spain, 2018), who she described as “a person who radiates motivation and enthusiasm for what she does”. Despite researching very different subjects, Valle shows a great interest in the forest ecology research that Isabel is doing, with the aim, as she puts it, of “finding solutions to preserve the ecosystems on which we depend to survive”.


Eva Flavia Martínez (United States, 2015) could not choose just one fellow. “My whole year came to mind”, she admitted. She told us that this is a group that has remained very close over the years and that meets for Thanksgiving in various cities, such as Seattle, San Diego and Boston. This year almost 20 fellows that still live in the United States after their fellowships are meeting in San Francisco. “Each and every one of them is amazing in their respective fields but, above all, they are people who are committed, loyal and fun, full of energy and vitality. They have become a permanent source of support for me”, says Eva.


Here we end our first article in which the board members of the ”la Caixa” Fellowship Association introduce us to other colleagues from the same network. Don’t miss the second part of this series, where we will continue to create connections between fellows.