In May 2020, Katherine Cuellar Bravo, a young Colombian researcher from the public health field, has passed away. She was responsible for the Colombian case study of the Global Emergency in Health, Zika, and Abortion Research in Latin America, led by the International Development Department of the London School of Economics in association with researchers from Brazil, Colombia and El Salvador. Four researchers from this team have written notes regretting her early departure that was shared in the virtual memorial organized by the University of Antioquia where she was a doctoral student.
Katherine was a valuable participant of our research team and an excellent early-career academic. She was fearless, inquisitive and forceful when required. She wasn’t afraid to show her own voice and her thoughts, but she never did it in a taxing way. Always calm, she loved to have fun! She was our friend. She took care of me and did everything possible to make me feel at home when I visited Colombia for our research project last year. Our trip to Barranquilla was particularly memorable: we sat on a rooftop terrace in the pouring rain, discussing the world, our fears, our hopes, our lives, and her dog. I am devastated to hear of her departure. Katherine, I hope you are at peace now. I forward my sincere thoughts and prayers to your family and friends.
It was a privilege to work together with Katherine. Her death is a sad loss for her family and friends, and also for the field of public health in Colombia and beyond. We, here friends at LSE will light a candle for her.
I will keep in my memory the night I went out to dinner with Katherine and talk about our work in Lisbon. It was a very special moment. We exchanged a lot about our experiences as women, in Latin American countries, in Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico. We also talk about our professional experiences, job prospects in our countries, our dogs, and the sport that we both loved: skating. I want to remember her as she is in a nice photo she sent me: skating with her dear dog. I want to remember her as I saw her the first time we met: her beautiful smile, her joy, her companionship, and her handsome energy. I dearly embrace your family, friends, and work colleagues.
I want to begin thanking Professor Carlos Ivan for having indicated Katherine for our project. It has been a pleasure to meet her and work with her. Above all, I want to underline the meaning, or even privilege, of her, a young black researcher so well qualified, in our research project because as we do know our region quite regrettably remains traversed by the deep colonial heritage of slavery and racism. As Camila, I preserve with me Katherine’s open and generous smile.