While some people may perceive art and science as unrelated, Carlos views them as complementary human endeavors. High-quality pictures can be highly useful for identifying specimens, but he enjoys photographing small insects because it helps him understand how they see the world.
“People usually see insects as nuisances and, to be fair, from our height and with our sight, most of them even look the same,” Carlos says. “However, through a macro lens placed at ground level, things are different. You see detail in their morphology, and it becomes easier to understand their natural history. You see who they are and what they do.”
Carlos won first place in the 2020 Faces of Biology Photo Contest, sponsored by the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS). According to the AIBS website, the contest “showcases biological research in its many forms and settings” and helps the public and policymakers gain a better understanding of the value of biological research and education.
Carlos came to FIU because of Dr. Jamie Theobald, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and one of the leading researchers in visually-driven behavior in flies.
“I wanted to learn from him and work in his lab,” Carlos says. “FIU was also a great choice because of its friendly multicultural and inclusive environment. This made it easier for me to adapt to the language requirements when I first got here.”
In addition to adapting to the language, Carlos had to overcome other challenges, including the death of his mother and having to overhaul his research project because of logistical reasons. He credits his wife, family, and FIU’s faculty for making it possible for him to graduate in Spring 2021. “It’s been a long road, but here I am,” he says.
Carlos is currently continuing his research as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Washington in Seattle. “There are so many things yet to be done,” he says. “Acquiring more research experience and getting to publish more of my work are short-term goals that would put me in a better position to obtain a job in the future.”