Lucía Fernández Montoya graduated from the ISGlobal – University of Barcelona Master of Clinical Research: International Health Track in 2014. She is currently working for the Entomology and Vector Control unit of the Global Malaria Programme, at the World Health Organitzation (WHO). She worked previously for ISGlobal in Mozambique, as a coordinator of the entomological studies of a malaria elimination pilot project based in a semi-rural area in the country.
How did the ISGlobal Master complemented your career?
For me, this Master allowed me to do the big career change I wanted. I studied physics in University and started working as a wind source engineer. However, since I was 16 years old I had been participating in cooperation and development projects and I had developed a genuine passion for this field, especially in relation to human health. Coming from a fundamental science background, I couldn't find an entry point to develop a career in public or global health. This master gave me that entry point and the confidence that my skills could be of great help in this field.
"For me, this Master allowed me to do the big career change I wanted"
Were the relationships your formed at ISGlobal useful - in what way?
They were crucial for me to be where I am today. I started learning about entomology and vector control during my master thesis from one of my thesis advisers, Krijn Paaijmans. He very well managed to conveyed to me his passions for "mossies". I found entomology a fascinating area of work. Sometime after finishing my Master I got to know about an opening in a malaria elimination pilot project that was going to take place in Mozambique, lead by ISGlobal. The selected candidate would be the coordinator of the entomological studies of this fascinating project and would be based in a semi-rural area in Mozambique for two years. I didn't hesitate, I applied and got selected.
During my stay in Mozambique I spent most of my days working together with our team in the field. I realize the value of entomological data for the optimal design of vector control interventions, but started to see how poorly it was used in some situations. This was the source of my commitment to improve the use of entomological data. A commitment that has taken me to dedicate my career to support malaria endemic countries leverage the use of their entomological data and interventions monitoring data to improve their vector control strategies. A commitment that lead me to join the Entomology and Vector Control unit of the Global Malaria Programme, where I have broadened my knowledge and perspective of the great challenges facing malaria control and elimination, and how good surveillance, beyond entomological surveillance and interventions monitoring, could be a corner stone in eliminating malaria worldwide.
What do you hope to further achieve in the field of global health in the future?
I hope to continue supporting countries improving their surveillance systems and the use of the data collected to promptly inform strategic decisions. I hope by doing so, to contribute towards achieving a malaria free world.
"This master gave me that entry point and the confidence that my skills could be of great help in this field"
What advice do you have for current students?
For those who have a clear interest on a subject, I would advise them to pursue their interest and show their motivation and commitment to learn. To those who don't yet have a clear direction, to be patient and keep walking, following their instinct, the right direction will become clear along the way. To all of them, to work hard, to be enthusiastic and humble; to listen and observe from those who are ahead of us; to learn from history, which we sometimes forget by looking too much into the future; to take risks and not to be afraid of making mistakes and to cultivate good relationships and friendships along the way. At least, those are the skills and strategies that have helped me most in my career so far.