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  • Writer's pictureLuiza Maria Teóphilo Aparecido

Welcome to the Aparecido Lab!

It's been a long time coming, but I made it! I am starting my research lab at the University of Utah-School of Biological Sciences this summer. Doors open on July 1st, 2023!

I can't express how excited I am to be continuing my journey in academia as an assistant professor, especially in such a supportive department, beautiful city, and with amazing lab members. Although the 'Aparecido Lab' is still just on paper (I am writing this while postdoc'ing at ASU), we already have tons underway. First, this website... can't believe it took me this long to build this. But as you'll see, we already have people added to the 'People' tab that isn't just me. I am happy to officially announce Dr. Bianca Zorger and Rebecca Senft as the first members of our lab.

Dr. Zorger comes from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as a postdoctoral researcher that will help me build the lab from scratch, in addition to leading efforts on determining plant thermotolerance and alternative water use strategies of Sonoran desert species (in collaboration with the Desert Botanical Garden and UC Berkeley). She'll also be helping us carry out preliminary data collections across campus for various other projects. Bianca's expertise on ecology of plants occurring in extreme environments (aridlands and altitudinal vegetation) and enthusiasm for plant physiology are great additions to our lab. We can't wait for her arrival in August, 2023.

Rebecca Senft is a bright undergraduate student from Kennesaw State University that has accepted to join the EEOB doctoral program under my mentorship. She already has a solid research background on plant thermal ecology, and brings experience using plant physiological equipment and leading field campaigns and groups. She is especially interested in invasive plant ecology, which has already worked on in KSU, and will be the central theme of her PhD dissertation. She is committed to publich outreach and JEDI initiatives, and will continue her involvement in those areas within the SBS and UofU. And finally, I am proud of Rebecca for already securing two fellowships that will aid her throughout her PhD program (in addition to her teaching assistantship from the School): Global Change and Sustainability Center (GCSC) fellowship and the EDGES fellowship. Congratulations, Rebecca! She'll be joining us in SLC mid-summer/2023.

With this team, I am confident that our first couple of years in Utah will be highly productive, at least in getting research started and building up the lab space. I also want to work with my team in developing our lab culture and mission, which essentially centers around people well-being and inclusiveness. Getting grants and publishing are great, but I really want the lab to be a community that my team and collaborators can feel safe and catered to. We'll be setting more specific lab standards as time goes, and will only be recruiting people that ressonate with the lab's values.

My established collaborations will continue on strongly as I have many postdoc projects to continue working on, but also to follow through our NSF grant on plant alternative water use strategies until 2026. With that, I am also looking forward to establishing new collaborations at the University of Utah and the US Southwest in general. I am especially interested in getting to know folks interested in plant urban ecology and on ecohydrological processes related to vegetation and the Great Salt Lake (I'm interested in city and federal government agencies as well). Any other research ideas that align with my background are always welcome as well. Reach out if you would like to chat! :)

Although it is bittersweet to say goodbye to Arizona, where I have worked and lived for 5.5 years, I only have gratitude for my time spent here. If it wasn't for my postdoctoral time here I would not have fallen in love with the desert and developed myself into a well-rounded academic. I am eager to start this new chapter in Salt Lake City and grow even more as a person. I found my way, and hope to help others to get there through my lab. Cheers! -Luiza Aparecido

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