Episode 13 – Finding the people in the politics: International students in the US.

On this episode, the host, Rafaella Lobo, talks to five current and former students, as well as a faculty member, about their experiences leaving their home countries to pursue higher education in the US.

Listen Now


Rafaella Lobo head shot

Rafaella Lobo, 3rd year PhD student at Dr. Lisa Campbell’s lab

Rafa is originally from Brazil, where she got a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from PUC-GO. She came to the US in 2014, to get her Master’s in Political Science at the University of Central Florida. In 2016 she was hired by the Duke Marine Lab to do pilot whale photo ID at Dr. Andrew Read’s lab, when her podcast addiction started. She began her PhD in 2018 under Dr. Campbell’s advising, and they have been talking about launching a podcast ever since. She has volunteered, interned and worked with marine/environmental institutions, such as the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, and the World Wildlife Fund. She’s been the Alexandra Cousteau Environment and Global Climate Change Fellow, and the Duke Global Policy Fellow. Her PhD research focuses on international governance for biodiversity conservation, particularly at the intersection of North-South issues.

Twitter: @LellaLobo


Xavier Basurto head shot

Dr. Xavier Basurto, Associate Professor of Sustainability Science at the Nicholas School of the Environment and director of the Coasts and Commons Co-Laboratory at Duke University.

His expertise lies in the governance of the commons, particularly in the context of inshore fisheries. He has developed large scale collaborations between academia, practitioners, and fishing organizations to co-design studies aimed at diagnosing the performance of different types of fishing organizations. He is also interested on how biophysical factors affects the performance of diverse governance arrangements. Xavier has published more than 60 articles in a diversity of outlets and has been funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and a diversity of philanthropic organizations based in the U.S. and Europe. Currently, Xavier is collaborating with FAO in in the design and implementation of the methodologies for two main projects: Illuminating Hidden Harvests and the mapping of global fishing organizations.

Paula Chavez head shot

Paula Chávez, Conservation Officer, Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza.

Paula is a Colombian marine conservationist with a B.S degree in Biology from the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. While in Colombia, she worked as the Staff Biologist at the CDMB, a state environmental agency. Afterward, she pursued a Master in Environmental Management with a focus in Coastal Environmental Management at Duke University where she worked as a research assistant. Before moving to Mexico, Paula interned at NRDC’s Oceans Program in San Francisco, CA, and collaborated with the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape program at Conservation International. Paula joined the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature (FMCN) in 2018 where her primary responsibilities are supervising marine conservation projects supported; reporting the program’s results to donors; supporting in project design and grant-writing to maintain the financial capital for marine conservation in Northwest Mexico, and coordinating marine monitoring projects in collaboration with the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity. Paula is currently based in La Paz, BCS, México where she is constantly amazed by the beautiful land and seascapes, and enjoys her time by walking her dog Ramón, practicing some yoga, and going to the beach.

Instagram: @paulaachavezc

Junyao Gu head shot

Junyao Gu, 2nd year PhD student at Dr. Zackary Johnson’s lab 

Junyao grew up in a coastal city named Lianyungang in Jiangsu Province, China. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and a Bachelor of Laws degree in Law from Jilin University, China in 2017. She graduated with a Master’s degree from the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in 2019, where she found her deep love for exploring the tiny mysterious microbial world and had a wonderful time doing research in Dr. Sarah Preheim’s lab. She joined Dr. Zackary Johnson’s research group as a Ph.D. student in 2019 and she currently studies the microbial ecology and metagenomics of marine phytoplankton.

Instagram: @gu_junyao

Crisol Mendez head shot

Dr. Crisol Méndez-Medina, Post-Doc at the Coasts and Commons Co-Lab (Dr. Xavier Basurto)

Crisol’sbackground is in Sociology with a minor in Latin-American studies. She holds a Doctorate in Ecology and Sustainable Development from El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (Mexico). She is conservation scientist and institutional scholar who works at the interfaceof ecology, sociology, resource management, and policy to solve real-world natural resource management problem. She is a Fullbright Scholar (2017-2018) and MSC Fellow (2016). Currently she coordinates a participatory action research project in Mexico, working collaboratively with different stakeholders, NGOs, fishers, and scientists: The National Plan to Strengthen the Governance of Fishing Organizations.

Twitter: @CrisolMM

Elisabetta Menini head shot
Elisabetta Menini, 2nd year PhD student
Betta is a second year PhD student co-advised by Pat Halpin and Cindy Lee Van Dover. She is a Fulbright student from Italy with two maters and professional experiences in marine biology and maritime spatial planning. Her interests include deep sea management and conservation particularly in seabed mining governance and regulation in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJs).
Twitter: @BettaMenini
Phill Turner head shot

Dr. Phillip J. Turner, Science-Policy Consultant

Phil is an early career researcher with experience in deep-sea mining, deep-sea ecosystem services and ocean governance. Phil graduated from Duke University in 2019 with a PhD in Marine Science and Conservation. His PhD research explored i) the ecology of methane seeps on the US Atlantic margin and interactions with the deep-sea red crab fishery; ii) the ecology of hydrothermal vents and the potential impact of deep-sea mining on functional diversity; and iii) the cultural significance of the Atlantic seabed in the context of the transatlantic slave trade and the importance of memorializing those who died during their Middle Passage prior to commercial mining. Since graduating from Duke Phil has been working as a science-policy consultant for Seascape Consultants Ltd (United Kingdom). In this role he is helping to ensure that research generated by the EU funded Horizon-2020 projects ATLAS and iAtlantic are communicated to decision makers and used to inform on-going policy discussions. You can find all of his publications to date here.

Twitter: @deepsea_phil

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/drphillipturner


View Transcript

View References