Azucena Lucatero

azucena's faceTo Azucena, a naturalist is someone who has specialized knowledge or familiarity with a certain taxa. Azucena is currently a graduate student in Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz. Azucena is an insect-focused naturalist with expertise in aphids (Aphidoidea), lady beetles (Coccinellidae) and parasitoid wasps (Hymenoptera). Azucena was always interested in nature since she was a child, but passion blossomed when she met her undergraduate research adviser, who help transfer natural history knowledge to her. In Santa Cruz, Azucena received additional support from her adviser, Dr. Stacy Philpott and senior graduate students, like Hamutahl Cohen. Her advice to get more people excited about natural history is to go out with friends and show them your own genuine excitement.

One of Azucena’s memorable naturalist experience occurred when she was working on a research experience for undergraduate (REU) at Yosemite National Park, where she was looking for and analyzing owl pellets – one day while she was working, face down to the pellets, she heard her adviser yelling her name, she turned around and there was a bear right in front of her!

Azucena’s advice to facilitate a more diverse naturalist community is to reexamine the broader definition of a naturalist and to not exclude naturalists that grew up in an urban setting, because all you need to become a naturalist is to go outside or in your backyard and see what comes by.