Lara is a biologist with a master’s degree in Ecology and Evolution from the Federal University of Goiás, Brazil. During her undergraduate degree, Lara studied one year in the Environmental Sciences course at the University of East Anglia (UK) and worked at the Zoological Society of London with red list assessments. In her master, she focused her research on the effects of climate change on threatened plants distribution in the Brazilian savanna and developed prioritization scenarios for conserving these species. Living in and studying about the most biodiversity rich savanna in the world, known as the Cerrado, made her fall in love with this dry and immense ecosystem neglected by the forest-oriented scientific and policy community. Besides, despite having worked most of her academic life with plants, experiencing the socioecological systems existent in the Cerrado sparked her interest of unveiling the field of human sciences and their interactions with the natural sciences.
So, in 2017 Lara joined the NGO International Institute for Sustainability, where she had the chance to implement practical activities in ecosystem restoration and continue working in the Cerrado, focused on improving the sustainable use of natural resources by traditional communities, who depends on the sustainable exploration of this biome for food and income. Although these communities have a historical knowledge of the biodiversity uses and maintain tight connections with the land, they are commonly refused legal rights of tenure, which represents a barrier to land related decisions, such as ecosystem restoration. This reality and the willingness to help generate scientific knowledge able to influence local reality, made Lara want to further her investigations in a PhD in Natural Resources at the UVM, asking the following questions: What drives people’s decisions on ecosystem restoration in different land tenure regimes? Into what extent such decisions impact the ecological and economic outcomes delivered by restored areas in the Cerrado? As a result of her PhD, Lara expects to develop applied recommendations on best restoration practices under diverse social contexts in the Cerrado and around the world.