I grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. Being so close to the Caribbean, I spent a lot of time in the sea. Later, during my school years, engaging in activities like freediving, spearfishing, and windsurfing instilled in me a lifelong respect and appreciation for the ocean. These experiences inspired me to pursue a career in marine science.
I completed both my undergrad and my master’s degree at the Universidad Simón Bolívar in my hometown. For my undergraduate thesis work, I explored fish communities along reefs in the Central Coast of Venezuela, a region known for its touristic and economic importance for my country. For my masters, I measured the relationship between structural complexity (the framework provided by corals that allow other organisms to find refuge and shelter), coral cover (how much live coral there is in a reef), and fish assemblage (what species of fish live in the reef and their abundance) in the most important marine protected area (MPA) in Venezuela: the Archipelago Los Roques National Park. During this time I also worked on a social-ecological project focused on determining the current status (i.e. distribution, abundance, health, etc) and proposing conservation measures for some of the most threatened coral species of the park including pillar, elkhorn and staghorn corals.
After completing my thesis, I worked for three years as Lab Manager in the Experimental Ecology lab (Universidad Simón Bolivar) under the supervision of professor Aldo Croquer. During that time, I participated in a project to characterize and establish baseline health measures of reef habitats throughout Venezuela. Working in the lab gave me the opportunity to dive and sample in more than 30 sites around the coast and islands of my home country, learn about its biodiversity, and gain a greater appreciation for the vital role reefs play in human communities.
In 2019, I moved to the United States to pursue a PhD with professor John Bruno at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Currently, my research explores how temperature affects ecological interactions (i.e. herbivory and predation) on fish and marine invertebrates in the Galápagos Archipelago. The Galapagos is an ideal natural laboratory due to the large temperature variation it experiences throughtout the year. I am focusing my research on the consequence of climate change at ecosystem level and expect my results helps to create a more complete picture of the impacts of ocean warming.
You can download my CV here.
When I am not working in the lab or conducting field work, I enjoy outdoor activities like biking, playing soccer (super fan! Go Caracas FC and FC Barcelona) and rock climbing. I feeling more at home everyday and growing a greater appreciation for Chapel Hill every day, specially its many wooden trails where I love to run and bike.