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Spotlight On IFS Alumni ~ Kathelyn Paredes Villanueva from Bolivia

Published: 2017-10-31

As a recurring feature of our IFS blog, we are periodically turning the spotlight on one of our alumni. When IFS staff members travel, they are meeting and interviewing our former grantees to discover more about the impact they are having in their countries. However, for this Alumni Spotlight, we were able to speak with Kathelyn Paredes Villanueva when she visited the IFS office in August 2017, to give a presentation on her research. She says that the IFS-supported field and lab activities “… exposed [her] to great opportunities for learning new techniques in tracing timber and also for strengthening [her] network which will be vital for the long-term research [she] would like to do in [her] country.” We hope you enjoy this feature of our website.


Kathelyn Paredes Villanueva

Nighisty Ghezae, IFS Director

What is your current work, research, and position?
I am a Ph.D. candidate at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

What have you been doing since completing your research project as an IFS grantee?
I am trying other techniques, both experimental and statistical, to assess the level of discrimination between species and origin in wood.

What role did the IFS grant play in your professional life?
The IFS grant supported my field and lab activities. These exposed me to great opportunities for learning new techniques in tracing timber and also for strengthening my network which will be vital for the long-term research I would like to do in my country.

What continuing involvement with IFS (of any kind) have you had since completing your project?
I have continued with my research and kept IFS up to date on the outcomes.

From your perspective, what are some of the most pressing issues in science and research?
To gain trust from the public can be difficult, such as current climate change issues and the political decisions taken in this regard. Also, sometimes young scientists cannot do experiments and publish within a limited time compared to more established institutions and researchers. I have experienced that there are limitations on equipment availability, knowledge and training which makes it challenging to publish our ideas within a short period of research. It has been said that academics must “publish or perish,” but the pressure of publishing quickly makes it difficult to do long-term experiments on the same topic.

In your view, what is the role of science for development in your country?
Science provides vital information to make decisions more assertively and efficiently. For example, Bolivia is currently facing a difficult moment to decide on building a highway through TIPNIS (Indigenous Territory and National Park Isiboro-Secure National Park) to help the development of local communities or to preserve natural resources in this protected area. I think science could help to look for a good solution for both development and nature conservation.

What advice do you have for early-career scientists like you once were?
I think learning to collaborate rather than to compete will help us to take more significant steps in science. Also, developing communication skills to be able to talk to people with different backgrounds about our findings is essential. My Ph.D. experience has been an excellent platform for me to learn to communicate my opinion without fears and in a more assertive way.

What have been some of the most exciting or rewarding experiences in your professional and/or personal life?
It is special to me, both professionally and personally, to experience the feeling of satisfaction when I can transmit knowledge to other people, knowing that it has been useful to them.


Nighisty Ghezae, IFS Director

Thank you. Hope you enjoyed this feature and keep an eye on our next spotlight  of our alumni.                                                                                                                        Dr. Nighisty Ghezae, IFS Director


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