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Lilian Ayala Jacobo

Lilian Ayala Jacobo, from Asunción, Paraguay, is a masters student in Forestry and Natural Resources. Her research focuses on Acacia koa, a key tree species from Hawaii. The name Koa means warrior in the Hawaiian language. She studies the cold tolerance of koa populations from different elevations in Hawaii as well as the genetic gain, this is, the amount of increase in performance of koa families in progeny (offspring) trials. 

Why did you choose Purdue?

I chose Purdue because is a global leader in Forestry and Natural Resources and also because the research done here in forest regeneration and genetics by my advisers matched my interests. The first time I read the name Purdue University was while I was doing my undergrad in Paraguay. It was among the sources of the materials of a very interesting course, and it remained in my mind all these years.

What is your favorite fact about Purdue?

I appreciate that Purdue promotes and embraces diversity. The international student population here is one of the largest in the USA, which allows everyone to learn a lot about many different cultures. I am also in love with Purdue beautiful campus and its squirrels.

Career goal?

To work in a research institute, an NGO or an international organization related to natural resources, to contribute with my knowledge to the conservation and regeneration of native forests and collaborate with passionate peers. In addition, I want to continue helping young people to find opportunities to study abroad, as others did with me.

Where do you spend most of your time on campus?

In the greenhouse of the Horticulture Plant Growth Facility and in the Forest Ecology, Silviculture and Soils Laboratory located at Pfendler Hall of Agriculture.

What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without?

WhatsApp (I am the type of person that send long voice notes haha), Spotify, to get inspired/relaxed and Google Maps, which I think is a useful tool to explore my environment. 

What’s your workspace setup?

I moved to a new office that I share with other 4 graduate students. I work on my laptop and I also have a notebook where I keep track of my research. I usually work while enjoying a cup of hot mate cocido, a traditional drink from Paraguay and other countries of South America. My desk is located next to a big window and surrounded by lovely small plants. The view is beautiful and it puts me in a good mood.

What do you listen to while you work?

When I am working in the greenhouse or in the lab and I want to feel energized, I like listening to Power/Symphonic metal with my headphones on, while when I work on writing or on an assignment, I choose listening to Classical Music to boost my concentration.

What are you currently reading, or what is the last thing you read?

I am fan on science-fiction authors. One of my favorites is Jules Verne. I loved 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

What's the best advice you've ever received?

To be more mindful of the present moment. I started paying more attention to the present, which has allowed me to notice things and actions that I did not use to in the past. This has helped me to enjoy and value more everything, the simple and complex things, and everyone. Furthermore, it has increased my sense of amazement about the world.


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I was born in the countryside of Paraguay near the border with Brazil. My father was a very innovative farmer, my mother a caring housewife. After graduating as an agronomist, I joined the government as an official at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Paraguay. At that time, we were under a Dictatorship and its regimen did not value studies and competencies. Nevertheless, I applied for a US government scholarship (Fulbright Program) and Purdue University accepted me us a graduate student candidate in agricultural economics.  My study at Purdue provided me a strong background to perform and understand research principles and methodologies. Also gave me the chance to interact with different international students. Today in this globalized and competitive world, I face during my assignments as an international consultant the continuous challenge to work in a team with intercultural partners, and the experiences at Purdue gave me the tools to understand and manage intercultural issues.  Living in the USA, gave me also the opportunity to know better the American culture, its educational system and allowed me to build strong relationships with professors and colleagues with whom I exchange experiences and knowledge. These linkages give me the chance to keep updated and be competitive internationally.


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