The breakfast burger

On Wednesday the 3rd of June, the second session of the live interviews cycle of Inspira STEAM at home took place, whose aim is to give visibility to female scientists and technologists. I have already talked to you about Inspira STEAM before, but not about today’s protagonist. She is an 18-year-old researcher, inventor, and entrepreneur, who is currently studying her second year of Medicine.

Do you want to know a bit more about this woman? Keep reading.

With the title “De estudiante de medicina a poner nombre a un asteroide (From a medicine student to naming an asteroid), on the 3rd of June, Maitane Alonso Monasterio, born in 2001, told us about her experience at the MIT competition, her daily life and how she balances her Medicine studies with research and participating at scientific competitions and other educational activities, among others.

The thing is that Maitane created a few years ago an innovative food preservation machine, for which she won first prize in sustainability and second in microbiology at the most important science and technology competition organized by the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Maybe you are intrigued by how did Maitane come up with this idea. This idea was created within her family. As Maitane told us, her father loves doing barbecues and there are always leftovers from them. One day, when she was only 15, she was having some of the hamburgers they had from one of those barbecues for breakfast, she found out that 1/3 food are lost globally because they rot, they are perishable. That, together with a “story” about the smell of a pair of shoes and a generator, led Maitane to start researching about expiration dates and microorganisms. Here you have a short video in Spanish where she explains how she started.

For Maitane, the problem that exists right now with E.P. and ideas is that, as we think they are not going to work, we don’t carry them out. In our protagonist’s case, that wasn’t it. She created a prototype of her machine with the materials she had at home. It didn’t work, but, as she says, it was the first time she did something like this and she had no idea about doing such things. So, instead of “throwing in the towel”, she kept learning, because as she says:

The most important thing is to not give up, despite every obstacle there might be on the way

So Maitane continued with her project in her laboratory, which, as it couldn’t be in any other way, it was in her txoko. Yes, I know that for some of you the right thing to do would have been to continue her work in a garage but being from Bilbao… you know.

Maitane believes that we have to bring science closer to society and encourage people, because she is convinced that “all of us are born with a curiosity”.

In order to continue with her project, Maitane created a company with her family, that way she could give viability to her invention. She has participated in many scientific competitions and she has gone from one exhibition to another to show her work. From the zientzia azoka, where she won first prize, to Barcelona, where, once again, she won first prize at a national level. From there, she went to Chile, where she had the opportunity to meet not other than the people at NASA and explain her idea. In addition to that, she won those “so important awards” I was telling you about before, which, if it wasn’t enough, were complemented by an asteroid having her name.

Around that time Maitane started studying Medicine at the UPV/EHU, but she didn’t stop working neither on her project nor on her company, but she kept developing it.

A little bit later, she went back to Barcelona, from there to Arizona, where, by the way, before the competition, her machine broke down, but as I have told you many times before, there’s no obstacle that can win over an E.P., and as she told us, “everything that can go wrong, especially in science, will go wrong”. The thing is that Maitane fixed the machine in record time and was able to present it.

Maitane wants to work in oncology, she wants to find a cure to accompany patients also in the laboratory and be able to improve their life, at least a little bit. She is aware of how important it is to find something you’re passionate about to be happy and to make you get up every morning with a goal, and, of course, she’s already found it.

I feel like I’m the most fortunate person in the world for finding a field of study I’m passionate about

Maitane is a synonym of passion, responsibility, work, solidarity, curiosity, naturality, perseverance, joy, happiness, restless and a very long etc.

Personally, Maitane, I insist you are a bomb, I admire you and I believe you are making your dream come true, but you are also being a role model for many women and many E.P. The world having people like you is worth it, but, in addition to that, the educational area having you, is a tremendous luxury.

I hope we will meet again, wherever it is, and give you a hug that right now is so “expensive”.

Thank you, Maitane, for being as you are, for the way yo show us that dreams are to be reached, worked and followed, and for being humble.

I encourage you to, as Maitane says, when you see the world stuck, when it seems it’s not going forward, get up and fight for a more sustainable and supportive future where everyone is happier.

By the way, if you want to know more, here you have Maitane’s blog.

Oh, and I will leave you with the interview of the 3rd of June, if you want to watch it calmly.

I’ll see you next week.

Translated by María Ubierna Quintanilla and supervised by Arantza Arruti.

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