Valeria Souza Saldivar is an evolutionary biologist whose work focuses on the origins of life. With a lab based at the Institute of Ecology of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma Mexicana (UNAM), in Mexico City, she has conducted field work for more than twenty years at Cuatro Ciénegas, in northern Mexico, a unique site that holds continuous microscopic forms of prehistoric life. The work has revealed that microbes in these desert springs represent unique microbial lineages that she has worked to protect from groundwater extraction.
Her numerous awards and recognitions include a fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation, a National Conservation Award, and the Aldo Leopold fellowship awarded by the Woods Institute of Stanford, California. In 2019 she was named an international member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and more recently received an Environmental Stewardship Award from the Society of Freshwater Science.