I am a biologist and entomologist broadly interested in ecology and evolution, using diurnal butterflies as a model to understand the mechanisms that generate and maintain species diversity. I am particularly interested in understanding the causes of speciation and diversification, and as a consequence I have lately focused in phylogenetics and species delimitation. I graduated in 2007 from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, where butterflies first attracted my attention during my undergraduate thesis. For this work, I compared butterfly diversity in two riparian forests in the eastern foothills of the eastern cordillera in Colombia. I worked in the field over several months, after which my interest in butterfly diversity led me to continue in the pursuit of knowledge about Colombian butterflies.

After graduating, I worked for the Tropical Andean Butterfly Diversity Project, digitizing the information available in the butterfly collection of the Instituto de Genetica at Universidad de los Andes, allowing me to increase the knowledge about the diversity and distribution of Colombian butterflies, as well as improving my skills in managing large amounts of data and information. In parallel, I volunteered for the museum for natural history at Universidad de los Andes where I discovered my passion for biological collections and learned about curatorial techniques. Subsequently I was awarded a grant by the Tropical Andean Diversity Project to compare butterfly communities in certified and non-certified shade coffee plantations in Colombia. In addition to these two projects, I attended two workshops and field courses about butterflies. At the first course I attended as a student, and at the second I was invited as an organizer.

In 2009, I became a master’s student at the Department of Entomology and Nematology and McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. There, I became interested in the butterfly tribe Preponini, an interest that drove me to propose a project in which I aimed to resolve the phylogenetic relationships of the tribe and clarify the number of species in the group. During my master’s, I complemented my project with curatorial work as a Research Assistant in the McGuire Center’s butterfly collections, this experience broaden my knowledge about neotropical butterflies and also curatorial techniques of biological collections.

Currently, I am a PhD student in the same Department. For my dissertation, I will further study the tribe Preponini but taking it to the next level. I will use the phylogeny as a stepping-stone to explore the evolution of coloration patterns and their significance. I will attempt to take a theoretical approach and complement it with ecological assays to investigate how and why we see the current coloration patterns in preponine butterflies and closely related genera.

 

Working with collections, in the field, and at the lab.