Juan Ernesto Guevara

2015 Hellman Graduate Awardee


Integrative Biology
UC Berkeley

Juan Ernesto Guevara, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Integrative Biology, was raised in Ecuador. Both his father, a sociologist, and his mother, a nurse, introduced him to socialist thought and biological sciences at a young age. Although there weren’t many job options for biologists in Ecuador, he decided to major in biological sciences at Ecuador’s Catholic University. “Luckily, my doubts were swept away during my first field trip on a botany course, when I discovered an extraordinary interest in plant biology and what my teachers told me was an impressive talent for identifying them,” Guevara says. His interests in plants led him to enroll in ecology and biogeography courses, which solidified his passion for tropical forests.

He is currently working on his dissertation, which examines the role of geological formations and the underlying soil conditions on turnover patterns in Ecuador’s Amazonian tree communities. Guevara says that he’s honored to receive the Hellman Graduate Award, “not just because of the highly competitive selection process but also because of the relevance of the award.” He adds that the distinction will help him continue his research in South America.

“I am firmly convinced that the award I received will be extremely useful to attain the goals for the last part of my dissertation,” Guevara says.