International Student Ambassadors

The Natural Resources Science and Management (NRSM) International Student Ambassadors are international students in our program who are willing to provide advice and guidance to prospective international applicants. See below for more information on our ambassadors and their backgrounds. Our ambassadors will provide advice regarding: finding advisors, applying to UMN, campus climate, international student resources, etc. Please note that they cannot answer questions regarding visa requirements and legal issues, and will not review any application materials. 

If you are interested in contacting our International Student Ambassadors, e-mail [email protected] with your questions. If you're hoping to connect with one (or more) specific individual(s), please include their name(s) in your e-mail.

Baishali Bakshi - Doctoral Student

For more information about Baishali's research interests please visit this page. 





Luca Fitts Vargas - Doctoral Student

I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Natural Resources, Science, and Management specifically the track of Forests: Biology, Ecology, Conservation and Management. I grew up in Peru, where I obtained my Forest engineer degree. My passion for science and forestry started very early in my life, as my mother is a Biologist (originally from Ecuador), and always told me her stories when she went out in the field and how things where when you had to enter the forest with no cellphones or even electricity for weeks, and the connection you get with nature by doing so.

During my undergraduate degree, I traveled a lot along the Amazon and the Andes, and had the opportunity to work with native communities, which gave me a greater insight of how diverse our country is. I later went to a graduate-level exchange in Finland, at the University of Turku. I loved the international environment there, and decided I wanted to go further on my studies by pursuing a Ph.D. program. My first option was the University of Minnesota, where I got in contact with my current advisor, Matthew Russell.

My current research focuses on land use and land cover change of boreal and temperate forests across the United States. It focuses especially on the carbon fluxes over the years, and how disturbances affect the carbon stored in the tree’s wood. The objective here is to use data collected by the Forest Inventory Analysis (FIA) from parcels distributed along the country and to combine that with spatial, temporal and statistical relationships of the factors that influence the changes in carbon stocks that are derived from a land use change at a landscape level.

I have always been an outdoor person, so I love traveling even for a short time. Art is also one of my passions, so I sometimes try to combine my scientific career with it.

Fredrick Lala Odock - Doctoral Student

For more information about Lala's interests, please visit this page.





Luiza Lucena - Master's Student

Luiza Lucena, from Brazil, is currently pursuing a MS in Natural Resources Science and Management in the Department of Forest Resources at the University of Minnesota. She received her bachelor’s degree in Forest Engineering in 2020 from the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Brazil. She has been given seven awards for being intensely involved in research, extension, and leadership roles, including General Project Leader at the Forestry Practices Group (a Brazilian Student Organization), where she developed a platform for tracking forest products that connects consumers and producers. She has worked on six key projects involving agroforestry marketing, forest communities, and densification of organic food and phytotherapeutic production networks. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she worked as a volunteer at the WWF-Brasil with a focus on communication and stakeholder mobilization to promote reforestation with agroforestry systems. 

Her primary research interest focuses on market-based conservation with an emphasis on marketing of natural resources. She is currently researching non-timber forest product attributes attractive to different markets and the enhancement of sustainable value chains on a project funded by the Rainforest Alliance in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Guatemala. 

Luiza currently works as a Research Assistant at the Center for Integrated Natural Resources & Agricultural Management and volunteers as the NRSM representative to the CFANS Graduate Student Board.

Florencia Pech Cardenas - Doctoral Student

For more information about Florencia's interests, please visit this page.