Meet our ChangeMakers: Making a difference though science diplomacy


Born on a Mediterranean island and speaking four languages, Dr Marga Gual Soler was already a world traveller when she arrived in Brisbane to begin her PhD, adding another continent to her research training resume.

She grew up believing that science was the best tool for improving the world. Opportunities taken up throughout her scholarship at the IMB helped Marga realise how she could use the tool to create impact.

While completing her doctorate in molecular cell biology with Professor Jennifer Stow’s group, Marga sought out every opportunity to engage in science communication, interactions with the public, and further training in science policy and strategy.  She earned a reputation for focusing on service towards others and drawing people together.

As well being an active  IMB Science Ambassador, Marga became the Global Community Coordinator for the Science House Foundation, a virtual role engaging students, teachers, scientists and non-profit organisations to build a worldwide network of people inspired by science as a catalyst for literacy and cross-cultural collaboration.

In her final year at the IMB, Marga was selected from more than 10,000 applicants to undertake a three-month traineeship with the United Nations in New York. Marga’s career in global advocacy and policy making for science was launched.

Dr Maria Margarita (Marga) Gual Soler

2009-2013 PhD;
2010-2012 Science Ambassador

2013-2016 PhD;
2018-present Clinical Fellow
Science Diplomacy Consultant and Advisor

In her first role at the UN, Marga helped to elevate the voices of the scientific community in the lead-up to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Her research training, cross-cultural awareness and multilingual proficiency proved to be the right combination for addressing global problems through scientific collaboration. The experience confirmed that science diplomacy could be the practical expression of her idealistic views of science.

Moving to the UN office in Geneva, Marga supported the 2013 ECOSOC High Level Segment focused on science, technology and innovation for sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. A highlight was participating in the UNESCO For Women in Science panel with senior executives from UNESCO, International Telecommunication Union and CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research).

In 2016 Marga became the youngest member to serve on the Research, Innovation, and Science Experts Group (RISE) advising to European Commissioner Carlos Moedas.

She has since become well-known as an international expert, advisor and educator in science diplomacy. Working in more than 20 countries, Marga has helped governments, universities, NGOs and international organisations understand and promote the role of science in foreign policy and to strengthen their science-policy interfaces.

The range of influential organisations which have engaged Marga’s expertise include the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the European Commission, the World Academy of Sciences and the World Economic Forum.

Marga has been recognised with many honours and awards, including as one of “100 Spanish experts in innovation” by Fundación Cotec and "40 Under 40 Latinos in Foreign Policy" by The Huffington Post. She has been an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar and Georgetown University Global Competitiveness Leadership Fellow. In 2020 she was named as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

In 2019, Marga participated in the fourth cohort of Homeward Bound, the largest-ever all-women expedition to Antarctica. This global leadership initiative connects, trains and inspires women scientists from around the world to influence the policies and decisions that will shape the future of the planet.

She also joined the EU-funded initiative “Using Science for/in Diplomacy for Addressing Global Challenges” (S4D4C). This recently concluded project involving interdisciplinary and social sciences research explored the needs and experiences of science diplomacy stakeholders.

Marga’s firsthand experience early in her career of how science adds value to diplomatic processes inspired her to develop training programs for scientists who, like herself, sought roles not just beyond the lab but also at the boundaries of science, policy and global change.

She founded a science diplomacy and leadership program at Arizona State University, and as Senior Project Director of the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy she led training programs for thousands of people all over the world (many leading today's science diplomacy efforts in their own countries and organisations).

Crossing the borders of countries and research disciplines to connect people with science is the common thread woven throughout Marga’s career. In partnership with UNESCO she co-founded the Science Slam Festival, an event which combines science and performing arts in Latin America, and Ellas Lideran, a new women's leadership initiative in Spain.

The nature of Marga’s current work also bears testament to how she expresses her passion for science: interdisciplinary and intercontinental. She manages multiple advisory and academic roles simultaneously for organisations in Columbia, Switzerland, Uruguay, Mexico and Spain.

Even in a COVID-constrained world, Marga can still use science to cross borders and break down barriers.

Drive lifesaving discoveries with us

Ways to support   Your ChangeMakers Community