LUIS ERNESTO BELTRÁN FORERO
PhD in Biological Sciences, Purdue University
MSc in Biology, Universidad de los Andes
BSc in Biology, Universidad de los Andes
What was your research topic and how did you become interested in it?
My research provides evidence of how Espeletia grandiflora (Frailejon), an index plant of Paramo (a tropical high mountain ecosystem), is responding to historical events of warming and climate anomalies as El Niño. Particularly, we demonstrate that warm temperatures lead to increases in mortality. This threatens not only the diversity of this hot spot of biodiversity but also the ecosystem services – as the hydric resource – that Paramo provides to Colombians.
I have been working on frailejon demographics since 2010 when anecdotal reports informed about the massive mortality of several species of frailejon in several Natural National Parks of Colombia. I am interested in providing scientific evidence that shows how tropical mountain ecosystems are responding to warming and how this phenomenon can alter the ecosystems services.
Luis assesses the condition of frailejon plants to measure their response to warmer temperatures
What were the most difficult and the most gratifying aspects of your studies?
Personally, the hardest part was adapting myself to being a student again after 10 or more years since earning my master’s degree. Many things changed at the same time, but it was for the better. I have no regrets at all. From this experience, I only have pleasant memories. It was not easy but it was worth it. Knowing that my work as a university faculty in Colombia will be strengthened by this experience is something that is priceless.
What are your plans after graduation?
After my degree, I will move back to Colombia to join the faculty at Jorge Tadeo Lozano University, which is committed to education and research and supported me academically and financially. All my future research will contribute to strengthening the educational-academic cooperation between Purdue and Colombia.