Throughout my life in Brazil I have enjoyed going camping, hiking and climbing in pristine habitats. My interest in science is rooted in my passion for nature and curiosity about the processes that underlie the world’s diversity. I have actively sought experiences and educational opportunities to improve my understanding about processes and patterns in nature, and the ways that I can conserve it. Consequently, I am pursuing an academic career in which I intend to build a strong research base to apply this knowledge into conservation planning.
My previous research experiences and participation on conservation projects in Brazil have been essential to understanding the importance of applying biological knowledge to conservation. For the past nine years, I have been doing fieldwork in extremely threatened habitats in Brazil, such as the Atlantic rainforest and the Brazilian savanna. In Fall 2007 I moved from Brazil to the United States to start my Ph.D. in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at UCLA. In this program, I have been working on a project in the Amazon and Brazilian savanna gradient to integrate research, education, and conservation.
I am studying the diversification processes along the gradient between the Amazon rainforest and Brazilian savanna. My proposed Ph.D. research is examining the relative roles of divergent selection and genetic drift in promoting intra-specific differentiation between the Amazon and Brazilian savanna gradient. I am combining genetic, phenotypic, and ecological data to explore intraspecific variation in a frog species (Dendropsophus minutus).
Unfortunately, soybean plantation and cattle grazing have rapidly degraded the Amazon and Brazilian savanna gradient. In this project I am hoping to demonstrate that this region plays an important role in generating and maintaining rainforest diversity. This will provide a necessary impetus for increased conservation efforts in this threatened area in Brazil.