Focus on the Future is a series that seeks to highlight the early career scientists who conduct research at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Learn about our undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral fellows and the conservation research they are supporting through first-hand accounts and stories.
Growing up in São Paulo state, Brazil, I loved the outdoors. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was always "zoologist." I studied biology, and during my masters and doctoral programs at the University of São Paulo, I focused on road ecology—studying the effects of roads and traffic on wildlife.
Animals are often hit by cars while attempting to cross roads. Roads create barriers for wildlife and fragment their habitat. For the first time in Brazil, I monitored road underpasses, which are underground tunnels created to allow terrestrial animals to cross underneath busy roads. To my surprise, I found out this type of mitigation measure could help many different species! Realizing there are solutions to reduce animal road mortality inspired me to keep moving forward. I went on to work across Brazil to plan the implementation of wildlife underpasses and fences, preventing tapirs, giant anteaters, maned wolves, jaguars and pumas from car collisions.