Daniel Gutierrez

Daniel Gutierrez

”To improve myself professionally and personally”

College: Arts and Sciences
Degree Program: Ecology and Evolution
Degree: Doctorate

Awards: NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (2023); McKnight Doctoral Fellowship (2023)

Why FSU?

My advisor, Dr. Emily DuVal, played a major role in my selection of FSU to pursue my graduate studies. Her research interests aligned very well with my own, and I felt that I would be able to thrive and develop to the best of my abilities under her guidance. She facilitated my in-person visit to FSU and the Department of Biological Science, and I found a community with values that I could relate to and that offered great opportunities for career development. The rich diversity of researchers and fields that make up the Department of Biological Science offers an ideal scenario to interact with colleagues who may be working on fields similar to mine, but, most importantly, with those who don't and from whom I strongly believe I will learn greatly. I also learned of the many options that FSU has for undergraduate students to do research, and I look forward to assisting my advisor in mentoring undergraduates if the possibility arises. Having the option to be a teaching assistant will also be a fantastic opportunity to develop my own teaching skills and is something that I am looking forward to.

Motivation to pursue a graduate degree

I aspire to become a university professor and be able to teach and train a new generation of scientists, and I strongly believe that pursuing a PhD is the next step for me to achieve this goal. I am especially passionate about contributing to people from underrepresented populations, such as Latinos like myself, to have a place in science. Having grown up in Colombia, I am aware of the limitations that Latin American scientists face do research or access graduate school and opportunities. I have been very fortunate of having outstanding mentors who have allowed me to be in this point of my career, and I wish to offer those same opportunities to new talented scientists who could contribute to the field in the future. I strongly believe that the field of biological science can only benefit from having a strong diverse community all around the world.

Importance and/or impact of research and work

I hope to develop a project addressing how cooperative displays and behaviors evolve and how sexual selection could be shaping these traits. I aim at disentangling the genetic, physiological, and environmental mechanisms, and examining if there is a shared path or rather multiple evolutionary avenues to these behaviors. I will most likely be working with the Lance-tailed Manakin study system that my advisor, Emily DuVal, has develop at Isla Boca Brava, Panama, for 25 years. This opportunity is a unique way further the knowledge that we have about tropical birds, and about these complex behaviors and traits, and build upon the research that many people in the DuVal Lab have been developing. Hopefully, my graduate research will help answer some questions and open more exciting questions and paths for new research.

Career aspirations

I wish to continue a path in academia and become a professor at a university. I feel very passionate about contributing to the education of new generations of scientists and to help increase diversity in the field of biology at the very least. Being a Latino myself, I wish to grant the same opportunities that I have been privileged to have to other Latino scientists in the US and Latin America.

Advice for anyone considering graduate school

Finding a good advisor who not only works in the fields you are interested in, but also whose advising style is one that you feel would benefit you is very important. Be sure to talk to many professors and try to gauge how you would fare under their guidance to be able to make the best decision. Lastly, be patient and kind to yourself. Applying to graduate school can be a stressful process, and it is perfectly fine to feel anxious about it.

Accomplishments during graduate career

I am 2023 recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship.