Sense of Ownership 3 minute read

Gina Della Togna: keeper of the Golden Frog

Gina holds a PhD in cell and molecular biology and is a research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. […]

Gina holds a PhD in cell and molecular biology and is a research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. She is also an academic researcher at the Interamerican University of Panama. In 2019, she received the L’Oreal-Unesco Women in Science Award for her research in assisted reproduction techniques for endangered species, such as the golden frog. In 2020, she was named by Forbes magazine as one of the 100 most powerful women in Central America and the Dominican Republic.

Gina Della Togna
Gina Della Togna

What is your origin?

My last name comes from the migration of Italian families to Veraguas at the end of the 19th century.

What is your first memory of the Panama Canal?

As a child, I camped with my family on a small island on Gatun Lake.

What is your favorite place in Panama?

Soberanía Natural Park, it represents the biodiversity of Panama.

Favorite Panamanian book

The Red Beret, by Rogelio Sinán.

What are you reading at the moment?

Leading minds, by Howard Gardner.

Rana Dorada
Rana Dorada

How does the Panama Canal intersect your work?

The Canal is 100% dependent on the natural resources that surround it. Within an ecosystem, all components are necessary for balance and amphibians are an important part of the balance that watersheds need to function properly. Indirectly, I collaborate with trying to maintain that balance that gives continuity to the Panama Canal.

What teacher or what school/university episode left marks on you?

César Villarreal was a professor who left his mark on me. In his reproductive biology classes, I saw the perfection of evolutionary systems.

Short-term challenge

I have six thesis students doing SENACYT-funded research work that was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. My immediate challenge is to help them with international indexed publications to finish those theses.

What keeps you awake at night?

Losing a species.

What do you consider to be the trait that most represents Panama?

Panamanians are very persevering. We don’t give up easily.

Favorite Panamanian holiday

The patriotic days.

Shocking fact

The golden frog, an icon of our identity, no longer exists in nature. We don’t even know how many more species we have lost to the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.

Life models

My parents, from beginning to end. In the professional field, Dr. Oris Sanjur and Dr. Budhan Pukazenthi.

An artist

Diener Boya

Notable ancestors

My grandfather Chito Della Togna, an outstanding diplomat.

My uncle Carlos, producer of Festival Nacional de la Tamborera and author of beautiful songs.

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