Andrea Baudoin

PhD student (1st year) in Interdisciplinary Ecology, School for Natural Resources & Environment; B.S. at University of São Paulo (ESALQ) in Brazil & AgroParisTech in Paris, France & M.S. (Agricultural Engineering) at AgroParisTech in Paris, France.

Andrea is interested in conducting research that contributes to the understanding of natural resource management under Indigenous Autonomy scenarios in Bolivia. She has research experience with Universities, NGOs and International institutions on family farming production and commercialization systems and public policies in different countries and at different scales. More specifically, she has worked with Agronomists and Veterinarians without Borders (AVSF) in Bolivia and Ecuador coordinating applied research on production, commercialization and public policies for family.

Andrea is jointly funded by TCD program & School for Natural Resources & Environment (2015-2018).


Cristina Nuñez Godoy

MS student (2nd year) in SNRE; B.A. (Business Administration) from National University of Salta.

Cristina is interested in conducting research that intersects biodiversity conservation and economic development.  Her previous work has explored the sustainable commercialization of Brazil nut in the Brazilian Amazon, and, more generally, the development of markets for non-timber products.  For her Master’s research, she hopes to explore how economic tools can be used to reduce deforestation in Argentina.  Cristina is working with TCD partners Drs. Susan Walker and Andres Novaro at Wildlife Conservation Society.

Cristina is co-funded by the TCD program (2015-2016) and the SNRE program (2014-2015).


Farah Carrasco Rueda

PhD student (3rd year) in SNRE; B.S. (Biology) & M.S. (Forest Resource Conservation) at La Molina Agrarian University.

Farah is interested in examining wildlife response to anthropogenic impacts and the efficacy of mitigation projects.  She recently served as a research assistant on a project that examined whether natural canopy bridges can mitigate gas pipeline developments for arboreal mammals, especially primates, in a tropical rain forest of Peru.  This project was a partnership between Center for Conservation Education and Sustainability of the Smithsonian Institution Conservation Biology Institute and REPSOL Exploración, Peru. Farah’s MS research examined bat diversity in a fragmented Peruvian landscape undergoing rapid deforestation. Farah’s dissertation research investigates how land use practices in a rapidly changing environment along the new Interoceanic Highway in Madre de Dios region of Peru impacts biodiversity conservation and ecological services using bats as a model.

Farah was funded for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 by LASPAU-Fulbright and SNRE; she received a graduate assistantship from TCD for 2015-2016.


Percy Peralta

PhD student (1st year) in SNRE; B.S. (Agricultural Sciences) at La Molina Agrarian University & M.S. (Interdisciplinary Ecology) from University of Florida.

Percy has worked in the Peruvian Amazon with indigenous local communities in diverse initiatives such as resource management, conservation and protected areas, land tenure, governance and indigenous rights. His interests are to examine the potential of local communities and migrant small holders to reconcile forest conservation while providing their households and communities with the resources needed for healthy and fulfilling lives.

Percy is funded for the first two years of his dissertation by UF’s School for Natural Resources and the Environment (SNRE) and his third year by a graduate assistantship from TCD.


Maria Fernanda Checa Villafuerte

PhD student (5th year) in Entomology; B.S. (Biology) at Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador and Master’s Sustainable Development Practice (MDP) at University of Florida.

Maria Fernanda is committed to pursuing rigorous scientific PhD while simultaneously working to strengthen her background and skills to apply science to benefit her country.  Consequently, while working towards her PhD in Entomology, Maria Fernanda received the MDP degree at UF. Maria’s work for many years has focused on documenting diversity of butterflies in Ecuador and their susceptibility to climate change. She asks central questions in ecology, such as what controls butterfly abundance, what are the links between resource availability and diversity, and how does climate affect population structure. In Ecuador, she has continued her affiliation with PUCE, where she advises undergraduates, has played a major role in the development and curation of the insect collections, and coordinator of a project that is gathering genomic and biological collections from Ecuador’s protected areas.  She received the Marianne Schmink Innovation Award in 2013 for her work to build local capacity to develop butterfly-farming projects which have potential to be viable tools for sustainable development.

Maria Fernanda was funded for her first four years by a UF Graduate Fellowship.  During her final year in the PhD program she is funded by TCD through a NSF grant administered by Dr. Lyn Branch in Fall 2015 with a match from the Florida Museum of Natural History during Spring 2016.


J. Benjamin Christ

MDP student (2nd year) in Center for Latin American Studies/Center for African Studies; B.S. (Fisheries and Wildlife) at University of Missouri.

Throughout his undergraduate career, Ben pursued research in avian ecology both in his home state of Missouri and abroad in Mexico and Puerto Rico. After spending his senior year studying in Valparaíso, Chile, Ben moved to São Paulo, Brazil to work as a Business English instructor at various companies, including Starbucks and Honda. During this time, he also volunteered at an NGO called SAVE Brasil (Sociedade para a Conservação das Aves do Brasil), the country’s official BirdLife International representative. During his first year in the MDP program at UF, Ben served as the Graduate Director of Yulee Hall, home of the Global Living Learning Community. He and his team implemented programs revolving around the themes of sustainability, multiculturalism and active citizenship for undergraduate residents. In Summer and Fall 2015, Ben conducted his MDP practicum with TCD’s partner IPE (Institute for Ecological Research) in Nazare Paulista, São Paulo State, Brazil.  There he worked with Drs. Claudio and Suzana Padua, UF alums, on conservation and sustainable development initiatives and took IPE graduate courses. Ben’s interests include biodiversity conservation, deforestation and loss of natural resources, environmental economics, gender in development, and governance.

Ben was funded in 2015-2016 by a Center for Latin American Studies Foreign Language Studies (FLAS) Fellowship and will be funded during his last semester in the program (Fall 2016) by a TCD graduate assistantship.


Camila Rodrigues  

MS student (1st year) in SNRE; B.S. (Forestry) at Universidade Estadual Paulista, São Paulo, Brazil.

Camila began her MS in Interdisciplinary Ecology in January 2015.  She is funded for 2 years with Spring 2015 and Fall 2016 funding from SNRE and Fall 2015-Spring 2016 from a TCD graduate assistantship.

Camila finished her undergrad studies with the production of the monography entitled “Construction of Agroecology and Local Development Processes: Experiences in the Jungle Zone of Minas Gerais – the role of the third sector.” She decided to pursue a career that dealt with agrarian issues, social movements, and agroecology, by working for the Brazilian NGO – Instituto Centro de Vida – ICV ( ICV is a leading NGO in the Amazon frontier; Camila started her work with ICV as a technician in a rural settlement in the Xingu Watershed. She spent over a year and a half trying to understand the reality that settlers’ family face in this forested region, which contains little infrastructure, corruption, and limited social organization. Her work consisted of providing community groups with technical and organizational assistance. Currently, Camila leads the coordination of all work that the institution does on rural communities, developing strategies for intervention with family farmers and indigenous people, as well as working the technical and financial management and the coordination of a team.