Biodiversity Institute Fellows Profiles

Elisa Bonaccorso

PhD, 2007
Advisors: A. Townsend Peterson and Linda Trueb
Dissertation title: Evolution of the New World jays (Corvidae): Phylogeny, biogeography, and ecology
Home country: Ecuador
Current position: faculty member, Universidad Tecnológica Indoamérica in Quito, Ecuador. 

How did your studies at KU prepare you?
Beyond purely academic training, my time at KU trained me to confront new research challenges, apply for funds successfully, and, thanks to my excellent advisors, I learned the importance of guiding students during the development of research projects, as well as other aspects of their professional life.

The diversity of cultural backgrounds was enriching, but beyond that, the atmosphere among students was not competitive, which allowed me to develop really good collaborations and actual friendship among fellow graduate students. Also, most faculty and staff were very nice and laid back (in their personality), an aspect that helped maintain a really enjoyable environment.

What advice would you offer to students?
Try to establish good collaborations with fellow graduate students, since they can be the best colleagues you will have. Go to professional meetings (always with a presentation) and interact with students and faculty from other institutions. Learn to find your own research money; you will need that skill for the rest of your professional life. Try to keep good relationships with your advisors; they surely will help you for a long time after graduating. Never be afraid of new computer programs or techniques, learning how to use them will make you confident and open to trying new things. Do fieldwork, if you can; not too much that it burns you out, but enough to get to know where your organisms live. Enjoy! Graduate school can be the best time of your life. It was for me.