By Andrew Horvath, agricultural education and communication master’s student
Pursuing a doctorate from the No.1 entomology and nematology program is not an easy task, but Vanessa Simoes Dias has whole-heartedly taken on the challenge.
As an undergraduate student, Dias took an internship studying the biological basis of the Sterile Insect Technique in Brazil working on integrative pest management approaches for fruit fly pests. This research experience revealed to Dias her interest in studying entomology and nematology, and that she could make a practical impact through her findings.
Throughout her time at the University of Florida and in CALS, Dias has served in many leadership roles including co-founding the Brazilian Graduate Student Conference (BRASCON; now the largest conference of Brazilian graduate students abroad), and serving as the president of the Brazilian Student Association at UF. These experiences have further prepared Dias for a future and research on a global scale.
Dias has also been active in engagement and educational activities through the entomology and nematology department. She has represented the department by educating people about entomology and nematology at the Florida State Fair and the Ocala Country Days Festival.
While at UF, Dias has been recognized for her many accomplishments, several of which are highlighted below:
- Outstanding academic achievement from the UF International Center, 2014
- The Pauline Lawrence Scholarship, 2016
- Second-place in the student oral competition of the XXV International Congress of Entomology, 2016
- Emerging STEM Scholar Award from the Association for Academic Women, 2017
Although Dias has had an extremely bright and productive education while in CALS, her time was not always easy. The language and cultural barriers that exist for many international students created challenges for her. With a positive and determined attitude, Dias was confident these challenges would not hold her back.
“In my first year as a graduate student, language was a barrier to my professional communication because English is my second language,” Dias said. “However, I did not let the challenge of speaking a second language stop my success at the academic level. I dedicated myself to strengthening my abilities to communicate well in English both verbally and orally.”
Dias believes that one of the keys to being a successful graduate student is balance.
“You should live a balanced life during your Ph.D.,” Dias said. “Graduate school is not a sprint, but a marathon. Remind yourself that your low moments do not define who you truly are as a person and a professional. Always work with purpose and passion and do not forget that hard work pays off!”
After graduation, Dias will work as a consultant at the Insect Pest Control Laboratory located at the FAO/IAEA Agricultural and Biotechnology Laboratories in Seibersdorf, Austria.