Camila Cáceres

I developed a keen interest in science, particularly in animals and their behaviour, as a young child growing up in Colombia. I wanted to study marine biology, but the political turmoil and economic instability of that country limited my opportunities to learn and get involved in research, since routes to the coast were blocked by the guerrillas and many areas were deemed unsafe to travel to. In 2000 I moved to the United States, where I was exposed to opportunities that reinforced my desire to be a scientist. One key experience was volunteering at my local aquarium, the Discovery Place Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina. I spent many hours over the summers watching the exhibit tanks and was spurred on by the way I saw members of the public react negatively to sharks. This is where I ultimately decided I wanted to pursue shark research. Since then I laid the foundations for a career in marine research and conservation by getting involved in many studies whose subjects ranged from invertebrates to leatherback sea turtles and to artisanal fishermen, until finally I was given the opportunity to work with sharks for my PhD at Florida International University. All my interests and experiences have centred on behavioural ecology with the goal of specialising in fisheries management. I believe that an understanding of how predators and trophic cascades affect community structure and fish stocks is crucial for effective management and conservation efforts.