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Larissa Larocca de Souza: RIPE Women's History Month Feature

“I love that RIPE is such a diverse group that makes everyone feel comfortable, valued, and respected,” de Souza said. “I became a mom during myA collage of pictures of Larissa Larocca de Souza with the words RIPE Women's History Month Larissa Larocca de Souza across the top picture. time in RIPE, and I felt supported during this wonderful yet challenging time.”

de Souza believes that to be successful or feel empowered in a STEM career you must have endless curiosity and be alongside a group who inspires you and pushes you.

During International Women’s Month she wants to remind younger girls to “not let your fears prevent you from embracing an opportunity.”

One way Larissa strives to embrace equity in the field and to add support to those interested or intimidated by STEM stigmas is by “practicing simple yet important actions.” She described how she often asks her co-workers how they feel and carefully listens to them.

“Being empathetic to others is my way of promoting a more inclusive work environment,” de Souza said. “I believe everyone feels more seen and supported by being heard.”

She is inspired by Marie Curie, a chemist who was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. She described Curie to be a fighter, like anyone who is involved in STEM as a woman is in a male-dominated field.

To be more inclusive in STEM field, Larissa believes it takes courage, resilience, and commitment. An idea she has to get younger girls involved is to create and be a part of STEM mentoring opportunities. “Connecting with mentors that can share their knowledge and experiences can make sure they know of the wonderful high achievement women can create.”

Working daily with a diverse group of STEM researchers and mentors has been a great way for her to learn science-related skills but also learn and respect other cultures and values.

Upcoming for de Souza is her plan to move into industry work in the near future. She has already worked with a couple of agriculture companies but wants to branch out even further!

Larissa Larocca de Souza joined the RIPE project as a research technician in 2022. Her current role within the team is working on the photorespiratory bypass objective, introducing and evaluating synthetic photorespiratory bypasses in the chloroplast. De Souza is bringing her background in agronomy and horticulture to assist postdoctoral researchers as they strive to improve photosynthetic efficiency in crops. Larissa earned a bachelors in agronomic engineering from the University of Sao Paulo and later earned her masters in horticulture from Oregon State University. Souza impacts not only to the RIPE project but also being a research technician at the University of Illinois in the lab of Don Ort. Her work is published in the journals HortScience, Weed Science, and Weed Technology.

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During Women’s History Month, RIPE will be celebrating a number of our women researchers, their accomplishments, and their advice to other women in STEM.

This feature was written and developed by Emily Campos, RIPE Science Communications Intern.