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2020 Predoctoral Researchers


Pablo Guzmán Palma

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile

Pablo Guzmán Palma thought he wanted to be an astronomer – until he learned how to use a microscope in high school, where looking at samples collected from the garden changed the trajectory of his life. He was “fascinated by the shapes and colors of plant cells, by how microorganisms move under the lens.” Even now, observing samples with the microscope is his favorite part of any experiment.

Guzmán Palma, who grew up in Santiago, Chile, earned his B.S. and post-bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry at Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. His first research project focused on spinal cord regeneration, using the aquatic frog model Xenopus. He then switched to Drosophila neurodevelopment, and has published some of his fruit fly research.

His first interest in the Stowers Institute came from papers published by the Piotrowski Lab. While attending the 2019 Latin American Society of Developmental Biology meeting, he found out about GSSIMR and was intrigued. He liked the diversity of research being done at the Institute, particularly in developmental biology. But what tipped the scales was talking to early-career scientists working at Stowers and learning how collaborative the Institute is, as well as how much freedom researchers have to pursue the scientific questions that interest them the most.

For Guzmán Palma, those questions will always involve developmental biology because “it’s endlessly fascinating – how multiple processes have to coordinate during development, how beautiful model embryos look under the microscope. It’s remarkable how cells know what to do, where to go, or what to become.” More specifically, he’d like to focus on how cells interpret and integrate various types of cues and signals during development, possibly in his own lab after completing his Ph.D. and postdoc.

When he’s not at a microscope, Guzmán Palma enjoys reading and watching movies. He’s also a big fan of live music and loves attending gigs and music festivals.