My passion for fishes started in my first year as an undergraduate and since then I have had the opportunity to work with freshwater, estuarine, midwater and demersal fishes from shallow waters to deep sea using morphological, molecular and ecological data.
I was born in Bogotá, Colombia. I graduated with Magna Cum Laude from Universidad Nacional de Colombia where I earned my B.A. in Biology with a major in Ichthyology in 2001. My dissertation on the characterization of the demersal fish community of the Colombian Caribbean slope (300 - 500 m) and some zoogeographic comments resulted in the publication of four scientific papers. After graduation I gained experience as a research associate at Makuriwa Museo de Historia Natural Marina de Colombia (INVEMAR), working in the evaluation of the ecological impacts caused by the construction of the Urrá I hydroelectric dam on the fish community of the Sinú River, Colombia.
Then, I pursued my M.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln working on the molecular approaches to study relationships among families of Gadiformes fishes (cods, haddocks, rattails and their allies). I worked as a research scientist at UNC-Wilmington in taxonomy, biodiversity, ecology, and population dynamics of deep-sea fishes and then as a molecular lab technician working on the Euteleost Tree of Life (EToL) project at The George Washington University.
In my doctoral research, I continued working on improving the understanding of the evolutionary relationships among gadiform fishes using genomics, ecology and morphology. I have received several awards and grants, including two National Science Foundation awards - the East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute Fellowship (EAPSI) and the Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG), the Lakeside Foundation Grant from the California Academy of Sciences, a summer fellowship from the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, and a predoctoral fellowship from the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Currently, I am a postdoctoral researcher at NOAA - Fisheries in the National Systematics Laboratory working on integrative species delimitation using unsupervised machine learning (UML) techniques.
I am passionate about creating a culture where everyone, including people with diverse backgrounds and identities, can thrive. Currently, I am a member of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusive & Belonging Committee of the American Association for Ichthyologist and Herpetologist (ASIH) and the Diversity, Antiracism & Belonging Committee at the Senate of Scientist at the Smithsonian Institution.
Above Photo Credit: Sandra Raredon (NMNH)