Karen Da Silva

Karen Da Silva
Meet Karen Da Silva

Da Silva leaves behind legacy of excellence after nearly a decade in Nebraska

May 13, 2020 | by Aaliyah Wells-Samci

International students find their way to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln via many paths. For Karen Da Silva, her journey started with an internship in the entomology department.

As Da Silva finished her bachelor’s degree in her native Brazil at Sao Paulo State University, one of her professors helped her line up a six month internship at Nebraska in order to gain professional experience. The internship was a great success for Da Silva, and she was invited to apply and continue her graduate studies at UNL. Although she considered other institutions in the U.S. to pursue her master’s degree, Da Silva ultimately decided to return to Nebraska because of the friendly network she had built and the low cost of living.

“UNL has a unique combination setting where we can have a quality learning environment and the best exposure to Midwestern culture,” she said.

Karen da Silva

In 2012, Da Silva began her graduate journey at Nebraska. She earned her Master of Science in Entomology in 2015, and received her Ph.D. in Agronomy and Horticulture this May. While living in Nebraska for almost a decade, Da Silva is particularly grateful for the university and local community. In fact, the local Brazilian population in Lincoln helped her find a home and feel immediately connected.

“The Brazilian population here made me feel like home,” Da Silva said. “I never felt like I was missing home too much because I was able to cultivate friendships from my country here.”

Da Silva also formed connections by getting involved in organizations like the Nebraska Partners of the Americas chapter, a nonprofit organization that organizes events for the local international community and university community to connect.

Karen da Silva

On campus, Da Silva leaves a legacy behind as former president of the ASUN Graduate Student Assembly. She originally joined the group to venture outside of her comfort zone and improve her communication skills, but it became her proudest accomplishment from her time here after working with other student government members to increase graduate student assistantships and bridge the gap with university administration.

“Getting involved in student government made a big difference at my time at UNL,” Da Silva explained. “It was so powerful to see the graduate community coming together to provide a better experience for students on campus.”

In fact, Da Silva advises all incoming students, international and domestic, to take the time to participate in different organizations around campus.

“This is a great way to make long lasting connections to people on campus,” she said, “but it also helps you develop new passions.”

Graduating from Nebraska means having a strong sense of community, education, hard work and excellence in agriculture and research skills.

Karen Da Silva

Karen da Silva

Looking back on her time at the university, Da Silva loved the quality learning environment she had as well as the safe and friendly community Lincoln provided. She’s also grateful that she had a chance to explore the Midwest culture and other parts of the state through her coursework, such as “Plant Diseases Across Nebraska.” The class also tied into her doctoral research on corn varieties largely bred for biofuel production.

“[This class] was one of my favorite memories,” Da Silva said. “It was so much fun to see how creative local Nebraskan farmers are to combat plant diseases.”

While working to complete her research project, Da Silva also interned for NUtech Ventures as a commercialization analyst. Her job was to work with researchers to complete the background research and market evaluation before an invention could be patented.

“I learned first-hand about the great technologies being created on campus and helping researchers transfer these inventions into the marketplace,” said Da Silva. She noted this was one of her proudest moments because of the skills she gained for her future career, as well getting to know about advancements in many industries outside of her own.

“After graduation, I’m most looking forward to apply the knowledge I acquired her on campus back to the community,” Da Silva said.

As she pursues her career in the agricultural biotech industry, Da Silva will continue to stay in contact with the friends and mentors she’s made during her time at Nebraska, no matter where in the world she ends up next.

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