Jessica is completing her Ph.D. in the Integrative Biology Department under the supervision of Dr. Sarah Adamowicz and her research is focused on studying the distribution of insects in agri-food landscapes using bioinformatic tools.
The rich biodiversity of our planet captured Jessica’s attention in early childhood. That curiosity developed into an interest in biological sciences and led her to pursue a BSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Havana, Cuba. Her motivation to protect species biodiversity has presented her opportunities to explore diverse topics in conservation genetics of endangered species, evolution, and bioinformatics.
While working on a conservation genomics project focused on Cuban crocodiles for her thesis, Jessica learned how to use molecular tools to study endangered species populations and to inform conservation priorities and strategies based on the molecular genetics results. Jessica was awarded the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) Scholarship, a governmental scholarship through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada. This scholarship aims to support the development of the next generation of leaders in the Americas by providing exchange opportunities to study or conduct research in Canada.
As a recipient of the ELAP Scholarship, Jessica found a place at the Ecological and Conservation Genomics Lab at the University of British Columbia. The opportunity to research in Canada contributed significantly to consolidate her background and allowed her to work with leading technologies in genomics, analyze the data, and publish the results in a journal article. It also helped her to develop laboratory work skills in the use of novel molecular techniques, none of them available in her home country of Cuba. Her passion for the diversity of life, evolutionary biology, and species conservation has found a complement in learning new bioinformatics tools to analyze genomic data.
This experience built a solid foundation in research and led her toward a graduate degree in the Integrative Biology program, specifically as a member of the Adamowicz Lab.
Jessica applied for the Arrell Food Institute Scholarship to financially support her studies, enable her to develop high-quality research and to build collaborative networks. After completing her degree, she will be ready to become a researcher working in collaboration with the agricultural industry field complementing the molecular biology lab work with strong bioinformatics skills. Completing the Ph.D. and gaining workplace experience with government, industry, and community partners will help her build a solid network to become a research leader in the agri-food sector in Canada.