Graduate Ambassador at Cornell University
Hometown: Covina, CA
Graduate Program: Biomedical and Biological Sciences, Ph.D.
Anticipated Graduation Date: 2024
Institution: University of California, Los Angeles
Major: Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution
I am a first-generation Colombian-American. I am the first in the family to pursue a Ph.D. My family (and my dogs) are in Los Angeles, and they are home to me.
Cornell is really far from my home, but no other university offered me the collaborative opportunity to work with the Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. To have colleagues involved in the biodiversity preservation research I was interested in long-term at this early point in my career was a position I was unwilling to pass up. Cornell also has a community that really insists on inclusion of every new student, so it was nearly impossible not to build relationships with people early on. I liked that, and I was able to ascertain that from students I spoke with before even stepping foot on campus.
I am motivated by research serving wildlife conservation interests. This has taken me from ecology, primatology, disease ecology, and now sperm biology. I am interested in the dynamics of sperm capacitation, or what makes sperm able to fertilize eggs. It is with basic scientific understanding of sperm in domestic models that we can make more educated decisions with biobanked endangered species' gamete storage and attempts at breeding.
Choose a place where you feel welcomed and wanted. Imagine the lifestyle you would have with colleagues and peers at your new university and in your new town, and ask yourself if you can build happiness there. After that, ask yourself if your studies at this institution serve the future development/version of yourself that you most seek.