Interview with Alvar Saenz-Otero posted!

I’m very happy to post this interview with one of the coolest and smartest pierced people I know! Click the picture to jump through to the interview! Thank you to Alvar for taking the time to chat, and congratulations to him on his achievements and representing modified people so well. (For those of you who don’t remember, click through).

BME: Do you think you have to work harder as a pierced person?

Alvar: No, not at all… you should simply always work hard. Being pierced/modified should neither give nor take any rights from you — you deserve the same treatment, and you are free to look different.

This entry was posted in ModBlog and tagged by Shannon Larratt. Bookmark the permalink.

About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

47 thoughts on “Interview with Alvar Saenz-Otero posted!

  1. Great article. What hit home, as it always does, is his approach-take the high road. show up on time, be prepared, be on your game and have your shit together. Its hard for people to get hung up on your mods when you can blow them out of the water with your mad skills-professional jealousy is the mother of all evils. Props to Alvar for being willing to share his story.

  2. Thank-you so much for this interview!!! It’s really inspiring to me, as I’m right now working in academics (though on the humanities side…) and somewhat concerned about the future. I think his emphasis on working hard and being good at work is awesome! It needs to be said and re-iterated time after time.


  3. Alvar, I’m touched that you think the mod community wouldn’t accept nerds… we (at least the online community) worship them! Thanks for the interview.

  4. I am also involved in academia as well, but as a grad student for astrophysics. I think it is interesting that Alvar commented on the fact that professors rarely said anything about mods. The same has been true for me as well. It is reassuring that the scientific community seems very accepting as far as appearances goes since most of them only really care about the science someone has to offer.

  5. I think you need an iam account, Alvar! That way you can find people who not only have mods, but can respect and understand your work–and are probably nerds too!

  6. Thanks for such a great article. The SPHERES project sounds pretty interesting to me. Alvar is an articulate and insightful individual. It’s comforting to know that there are people out there that have succeeded and have not sacrificed who they are in the process. As a science student soon to be thrust into the job market, it’s something that has certainly crossed my mind.

    Plus, it was a nice chance to swoon over an intelligent and modified man. :D

  7. I read the interview and several of his opinions are similar to my own. I do work in Middle Eastern History(most recently Post-Revolution Iran’s prison systems and Opium production’s impact on Afghanistan’s peasantry). I’m still undergrad though, and I love what I research. I’ve presented my research at every opportunity that I’ve gotten and I’ve never had a problem with professors saying anything about my mods. I will be starting on my forth language in the Fall. My academic work speaks for itself.
    Although I got an Engineering certificate in High School I abandoned Engineering for History…so I feel like I’m cheating on Science a little.

  8. Fantastic interview. When I saw the first post on BME about seeing him on television, I was really hoping to maybe get more information on him, his modifications, and his project at MIT. This interview really was impressive, informative, and well put together.

    Thank you Shannon and Alvar for this! I have struggled a bit with increasing my number of visible modifications due to wanting to have a professional career with writing and lecturing and I think this was definitely a positive influence for me.


  9. i’ve always been unsure as to whether or not i should plan heavier mods, and this is helping me decide. one should be judged on their quality of character, not how much metal or ink they have in their skin.

  10. History > science…not that I’m a history major or anything :P My professors have never said anything about my mods and some even know that I’ve suspended, but I let my research/papers/etc speak for itself.

  11. What a wonderful inspirational guy.

    It’s always great to see successful modded people if only to shove two fingers up to all those employers out there who pre-judge those with mods.

    Although I think he’d look better with fake boobs !!!!

    (joke joke :-P )

  12. I saw this documentary on national geographic some time ago, and I was totally stunned about MrAlvar appearance on the screen.
    I was like, whow, cool!
    Not that anyone with piercings(body mods in general) is in theory cooler then someone without… but there is something cooler about it :-)

  13. This was an amazing and inspiring interview. Thanks a lot for asking the question about his thoughts on race/modding correlations. As a racial minority, I’ve received a fair share of stigma growing up, and one of the reasons I’ve held off on getting extreme mods is the fact that it was really emotionally hard on me to deal with that when I was younger, and I don’t want to go through it again.

    He’s been really lucky to have professors and other who look past his appearance and focus on his work. While I’m sure his work speaks for itself, as well it should, there are still many people out there who will let their prejudice stand in the way of appreciation of an individual’s work. :(

    Thanks so much to Shannon and Dr. Saenz-Otero!

  14. I’m a modded nerd, Alvar! Mildly modded compared to many here, and nowhere near as accomplished as you. Be proud of your nerdiness.

    Excellent interview, and what a wonderful person. I like the part where he said that it is not your looks that will get you in or out, but your accomplishments. So accomplish something. That’s great stuff.

  15. this is a great interview. having just graduated college with my degree in architecture i have been struggling with what to do when it comes to up-and-coming interviews. i have been trying to come to terms with taking out my piercings but the idea just brings me down in a way that only close friends (modded as well) can understand.
    his courage gives me more hope that it is possible to go far in this world.
    with the right attitude and work ethic.
    simply a great article.

  16. Awesome article, I’m a bit of a nerd myself and I’ve got to say, while I wouldn’t be able to understand the programming that goes into the SPHERES project it really does fascinate me that all that work is being put into it. It’s mind-boggling and i must admit, cool as all get out. I’ve also got to say, I’ve never had a problem finding an out of industry job, I’ve held them before, and all of my employers have always said they don’t care what i look like as long as I get the job done, and done well.

  17. Awesome article! Personally, I’ve found the sciences to be a realm that is conflicted about appearance. My government lab is very flexible and casual. People wear whatever they want, and you have people in t-shirts and shorts working alongside people in ties and starched collars. But the atmosphere is still old-fashioned and conservative. No one has interesting hair, women don’t wear much makeup, and I rarely see anyone with visible modifications. I do have a colleague that is a “biker chick” — and she has been denied promotions and awards, and told it was because of her appearance. I don’t see anything offensive or unprofessional about her style, especially considering the casual dress sported by everyone else. But it has hampered her career. There are one or two visibly modified people here (a few out of over 10,000 employees), but it’s not the friendliest place for looking different.

  18. Good to see modified people in the headlights.

    I found the part of the interview that was about the sphere project most interesting. I’m definitely going to find more to read about this subject now…

    Thanks guys! Very inspiring.

  19. This has to be one of the very best articles I have read on BME! Very inspiring and full of interesting things. Thanks for doing it for us!

  20. I love this article… is great to see things like this posted on the net….I work at a job where piercings are frowned upon. More articles like this will hopefully help to change some views!

  21. What a nice, interesting, intelligent man. I found this interview quite inspiring, and what he says is very true. If someone is too narrowminded to hire the best candidate just because they’re modified, it is their loss.

  22. Even with examples here and there of ‘out’ modified scientists, I’ve found that it is generally a pretty lonely place to be. While it should be the ultimate meritocracy, science is mired in decades of hierarchy; forget mods – merely being a *woman* in science counts against you (see recent features in Science, Nature, and Cell about the lack of female professors and ‘higher ups’ in science).

    Modified people in science, when there are any, are found primarily at the lowest levels – grad students, sometimes postdocs. In scientific academia, I have yet to see tenured professors – or hell, even assistant professors – with any visible modifications beyond earrings. Saenz-Otero himself isn’t a professor, he’s listed as a postdoc/research associate on his CV. That’s what sucks about science – getting the PhD is only the first hurdle.

    Hopefully the situation in science will change as the demographic does. Currently, however, the 70 and 80-year olds at the top are keeping all of us youngsters in our places, and we postdocs are a dime a dozen. Until things change, I’m keeping my septum retainer in as I look for professorship positions.

  23. What an awesome guy! This has made me think more about getting facial piercings – I’ve held off for so many years because it’s not the ‘professional’ thing to look modded. But Alvar’s comments that it’s the work you do that’s important and not the way you look really make sense.

  24. HI, I just read the article and think that it is great that a modified person is responsible for such a large project. I have a family member that works with robotics and is very receptive to my mods. Actually more receptive than my own mother. Granted, my ears are only stretched to 31mm. All my other piercings are not visible. I wish Alvar nothing but the best in his future.

    Thank you
    Reverend J
    Ottawa, ON

  25. in a world where currently my acedemia and experience are NOT taken into account and appearence is only accomodating for/to/inlcuding the norm. It is very very reasuring to hear of an academic who has succeded and achieved apearing/through/wearing (or just generaly being) body modified. Im glad youve done well and i will be sending your interview to others who doubt the modified on appearences alone. loads of love and kudos mate Lx

  26. OMG!!! he’s pierced AND he’s mexican, talk about labels that people usually missjudge! Felicidades Alvar, eres un orgullo para la comunidad de mexican@s con modificaciones corporales!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>