Born in Colombia, currently resides in New York. Cofounder of the Environmental Protection Area (APRA) and Instituto Ecológico Buzios Mata Atlántica (IEBMA)
She is interested in Biogeography, Ecology and Medicinal Plants. Studies the ecology of the highlands of the Andes including the Andean forest and moors. In 1989, while doing research on the biogeography of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia, is involved in the study of the culture of the Kogi Indians. In 1996, she received the First National Award for Research of the Colombian government. She currently teaches at Hostos Community College, City University of New York, USA. At Hostos, Dr. Bernal is full professor in the Department of Natural Sciences; she has served as Head of Department and then as Associate Dean in the Office of Academic Affairs. Coordinates the creation of several initiatives, including the Honors Program, the Center for Teaching and Learning. In 2009, she received the International Award for Exemplary Leadership as well as the award for exemplary initiatives for innovation of university curricula.