President of Ireland Michael D Higgins was at University College Cork today (26 January 2017) to open an event to celebrate the links between Ireland and Latin America. During the opening speeches, UCC President Michael Murphy singled out CCRC PhD student and researcher Yensi Flores, as an exemplary success story of co-operation between UCC and Latin America for her work in both Ireland and Latin America.
In his address, President Murphy described Yensi’s unique story to President Higgins and the audience of dignitaries which included a number of Latin American Ambassadors.
Yensi originally came to UCC and engaged in research at Dr. Mark Tangney’s lab in CCRC from her native Honduras in 2014, having been awarded an EU Scholarship to undertake an MSc in Molecular Biology with Bioinnovation. While at UCC, she secured investment to found a start-up company developing diagnostics for mosquito-borne diseases, a major problem in her home country and surrounding regions. Following her MSc, she commenced a PhD with CCRC and APC Microbiome Institute remaining in Dr. Tangney’s lab, and was awarded a scholarship from the Irish Research Council.
President Murphy also highlighted Yensi’s continuing activities supporting UCC links with Honduras, including her recent project which saw her organise the donation of €250,000 worth of laboratory equipment to her home university of Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Honduras (UNAH). The equipment is to be used for research into infectious diseases, such as Dengue, Chagas and Zika, as well as for educational purposes to teach students about molecular biology research techniques.