“It is worth fighting without giving up”, said Dr. Aina Palau Puigvert of the Instituto de Radioastronomía y Astrofísica (IRyA), or Institute of Radioastronomy and Astrophysics, at UNAM, Campus Morelia, upon receiving the “Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz” Recognition on March 8th, 2022.

“I feel profound happiness”, said Dr. Palau, “because this recognition shows that our Institute and the University where I work are taking steps towards closing the inequality gap that still exists in academia. Although there is still much to do, the fact that UNAM has awarded this Recognition annually since 2003 manifests a clear will to achieve equity, and far from being only words, that will is translated into concrete actions that allow us to move forward in the construction of a fairer world”.

Within the framework of International Women’s Day, this Recognition is awarded annually to women within UNAM “for their talents and efforts that contribute to the development of UNAM’s substantive functions: teaching, research and dissemination of culture”, according to the press bulletin published by the University.

“To me, receiving this Recognition means a great encouragement to continue working with passion, intensity and honesty. Also, it moves me to profoundly thank all people, men and women, that have contributed to my personal and academic development”, she continued.

Reflecting on the writer, poet, philosopher and composer that is the namesake of this award, Dr. Palau said: “A job well done always brings satisfaction by itself, and precisely this passion for knowledge and truth pushed Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz to write her great works. As she herself said: ‘I study not to know more, but to ignore less’, and this reflects many women’s aspirations”.

“But this satisfaction inherent to a job well done and to knowledge can be limited or even drowned by a hostile environment, full of rejection and harassment towards women. This environment ended up drowning Sor Juana Inés’ work when she was condemned to destroy even her own writings. With this Recognition I am more convinced of the importance of continuing to care for and ensure an environment where all people can develop their abilities without limits of any kind; the importance of contributing so that every human being develops their enormous potential, and that the hidden wealth within each person and especially every woman and girl is never lost again”, she declared.

Dr. Palau would tell young women interested in studying Science that “it is worth fighting without giving up, to overcome the difficulties they may encounter on their way to personal fulfillment, whatever it may be. That not all men are going to undervalue, ignore or restrict them. I’ve been very lucky to find deeply honest men who also fight alongside women so everyone can do their work in a fair and free way, bringing all our abilities to the game. And this Recognition shows it has been this way”.

“I would also tell them that it is true that they will find people who by their attitudes, consciously or unconsciously, will discourage them from pursuing their goals and dreams. But if they find themselves in this sad reality, they should remember the example of so many women who, like Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, did not back down or lose heart but firmly and confidently pursued the path they had laid down for themselves until the end”, she added.

Finally, Dr. Palau invited her colleagues, women researchers, to “continue working as a team to join forces and transform our environments into spaces where free and fair development is possible”.


Dr. Aina Palau Puigvert’s career

Dr. Aina Palau obtained her undergraduate degree in physical sciences at the University of Barcelona and her PhD from the same institution in 2006, working as a predoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She has been a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) since 2014.

She uses very high resolution radio-interferometric observations to study the fragmentation of molecular clouds and the formation of very low mass dense pre- and proto-stellar cores. She has also contributed to explaining the process of formation of stellar clusters, the discovery of the origin of complex chemistry in very embedded young stellar objects, and she has shown that brown dwarfs can form in the same way as low-mass stars.

Dr. Palau is president of the editorial committee of the Technical Publications of the Institute of Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics. She also organizes the meetings of the radio astronomy group in the institute.


About IRyA, UNAM

The Instituto de Radioastronomía y Astrofísica (IRyA), or Institute for Radioastronomy and Astrophysics is an academic unit at UNAM, Campus Morelia, Mexico. We perform high-level and high-impact research in the areas of interstellar medium, star formation, evolved stars, high energy astrophysics, Galactic dynamics and structure, extragalactic astronomy and cosmology. We contribute to the education of high-level human resources through a postgraduate program, and we have close contact with society through diverse outreach programs.

If you are interested in our Institute, visit the English version of our webpage, www.irya.unam.mx/web/en


Media contact:

Dr. René A. Ortega Minakata
Outreach and Science Communication
IRyA UNAM Campus Morelia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.