Claudia Suseth Romero

I obtained my bachelor degree in Biology from the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala-USAC as part of my first collaboration in an international project with European Union funds dealing with the protection and management of the marine-coastal resources of the Gulf of Honduras (CISP, AIDCO/B7-6200/01/0373/ENV). Within this Project I was able to study the conservation state of neotropical freshwater and marine habitats of manatee populations from and produced two documents that helped both the research and social actors involved in the project. Thereafter I was granted a scholarship for a short course on management of coastal resources within the Swedish International Cooperation Agency (SIDA). This course led to the development of a masters in aquatic ecology funded by the Linnaeus Universität in Kalmar, Sweden. There I was able to work with a multinational research group and studied the effects of climate change (acidification and increased temperature) in the trophic state of the Baltic Sea, producing my first publication in an indexed international journal. I continued research with the obtainment of a doctorate studies scholarship within the Deutsche Akademische Austausch Dienst (DAAD) at the Technische Universität Berlin. I developed my project in one of the most important lakes from Guatemala, Lake Amatitlán. This study led to the first time quantification of three highly toxic hepatotoxins, Microcystins (MC) -LR, -RR and -YR in lake water, aquatic macrophytes and in crops irrigated with water from Lake Amatitlán.

Further laboratory research identified that three of the local aquatic macrophytes serve as good phytoremediators by up-taking and biotransforming of all three MCs from the lake. These results are now included in three indexed journals as main author and in my thesis which earned me a degree of Doctor in natural sciences (Dr. rer. nat.) with a mention of CUM LAUDE.

This type of research is very promising for countries like Guatemala, where less economical resources are located for the protection and recovery of important water ecosystems. The technology here proposed pose as an efficient and cost-effective solution for the elimination of such dangerous toxins. As we returned to Guatemala I was appointed Professor in USAC and lectured two courses. I also won funding for a project in Lake Amatitlán to be developed in 2019 and have the honor to be selected winner of the prestigious The World Academy of Sciences-TWAS price 2018 representing Guatemala. Now I have been appointed Director from Centro de Estudios Atitlán-CEA, Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. The Center is a national referent for environmental studies in the Atitlán Basin including the county’s third biggest lake and management of a Mayan pre-classical archaeological site, San Andrés Semetabaj.