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  • Writer's pictureLuis A Mazariegos

February 2024 - Eiphosoma merceae sp. nov. – Honoring Mercedes Arrubla

Leaving a mark is a legitimate aspiration of human beings. And doing so with the odds against you deserves exceptional recognition from society, particularly from those members or unions that benefited from the same footprint.


The scientific community remembers with affection and gratitude those who, as teachers, were inspiring. Those who motivated or fueled student's deep curiosity and love of knowledge. Those that make them believe that science is not an exotic task that only the most developed countries are allowed to do. That anyone, with enough curiosity and ingenuity, can contribute to the general understanding of our environment and the development of humanity in harmony with the environment.


Teacher Mercedes Arrubla, known as Merce among her students, deserves this recognition. Born in Segovia (Antioquia, Colombia) and trained in a degree in Mathematics and Physics at the University of Antioquia, developed a good part of her almost 40 years of teaching work in the picturesque municipality of Jardín, particularly at the Rural Development Educational Institution Miguel Valencia, in the village of Verdún. At school it is easy to understand why she is one of the most loved and remembered teachers. Merce works convinced of the value of scientific thinking in the education of children and adolescents. And she does so not through soporific recitals of poorly linked facts and figures. Her tool is learning by doing and her research hotbeds are already internationally famous. Some track NASA satellites to take local climate data just as the satellite takes imagery from above; all to feedback information to the satellites themselves. Some others standardizing how to obtain granulometric data from the soil, in an area of ​​Colombia characterized by agricultural development and the quality of its flagship product, coffee.


The value of Mercedes' work does not lie solely in her methods, which make her a pioneer of what we today call, with great fanfare, citizen science. The value is multiplied by the time she has been doing this. For having developed her methodology in adverse circumstances, such as those represented by the meager budgets that characterize rural education. Because she was not obliged to do so, and yet she did it with conviction and perseverance. Because she persistently overcame her own personal tragedies, to honor her family and life itself with an impeccable work that we all recognize today. Because everything she achieved was against the bets.


Mercedes' trajectory and results have already been highlighted. She received the Golden Woman award from the Government of Antioquia. She was also awarded the Teachers for Life award. The Bioconservancy Foundation hopes with this tribute that Professor Merce's work transcends beyond the memory and the good image she leaves in her various cohorts of students. Scientific names are expected to be immortal, despite the continuous improvement of science itself. We trust that the immortality of the name of this species of Darwin's wasp, new to science, pays tribute to the work of Mercedes, and that future generations of scientists will learn of her existence, inspiring actions and the recognition that she receives from those of us who are lucky enough to have known her today.


Congratulations Professor Merce, for having left a deep and valuable mark.

Eiphosoma merceae sp. nov.

The specific epithet merceae is a patronym honoring Mercedes Arrubla, an outstanding

schoolteacher who fostered the growth of intellectual abilities in generations of children for more than 40 years near the municipality of Jardín (Antioquia), the type locality of the species described herein. Convinced of the importance of science experiments in the education of children, she is acknowledged for the development of citizen science groups of students in edaphology, mathematics, meteorology, and music. A tireless and warm person, someone who refuses to retire from the responsibility of promoting scientific thought among rural children.


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