Testimonial: Juan Mauricio Bedoya Soto from Colombia

Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) Awardee (2014)

University of Regina (Water Resources, PhD)

Juan Mauricio Bedoya Soto

Under the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP), I conducted research at the University of Regina’s Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative (PARC) with professors that demonstrated incredible academic and human qualities. I had first connected with them in 2012, through a project called Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Extremes in the Americas (VACEA), which was financed by the Government of Canada, headed by a leading research scientist from the University of Regina and involved scientists from Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia.

VACEA aimed to deepen the understanding of climate extremes and variability on rural agricultural and indigenous communities, and to engage governments in finding adaptive strategies. I had gathered results for the project in Colombia in the context of my PhD at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Thanks to the ELAP scholarship, I was able to interact directly with the main participants of the project in Canada from September 2014 to January 2015. I greatly improved the results that were obtained in the three previous years and was able to adapt them to the general framework of the VACEA. In addition, I had access to a series of tree rings, from the Canadian Prairies and the Rocky Mountains, obtained through PARC’s network in dendrology. Combined with large-scale climate information from these same areas, I worked on finding patterns of climate inter-annual variability.

Thanks to this collaborative work, I am able to keep in touch with the researchers from PARC and to continue researching the topics that we explored during my exchange with the intention of writing an article for a scientific journal. I am open to the possibility of completing postdoctoral studies with professors that supervised my work for one or two years, once I complete my doctoral degree.

In my view, Canada is a country that offers many opportunities. Stability and tranquility are reflected through social equality that I could sense. Furthermore, this stability is supported by the contributions of each citizen, and the awareness that each person has of the general rules and laws, in addition to the important confidence that rests in the government and its actions. Different cultures, beliefs and customs coexist in a country that is free, respectful of the conditions of each individual and peaceful.

I am sincerely grateful to ELAP and felt totally supported during my stay. I did not have to worry about funding and could focus completely on progressing in my doctoral studies. Many of my colleagues from my faculty in Colombia are very interested in the ELAP and will probably apply to future competitions.