Global Seminar Spotlight: Jazmin Castillo

Friday, March 6, 2020

Global Seminar Spotlight: Jazmin Castillo

(Update: Students, please join a special virtual luncheon with Jazmin on Wednesday, April 15 at 12:00 p.m. CST. RSVP here for the Zoom link to join!)

This is a continuation of our "IANR is Global" series, which highlights the many ways internationalization is woven through the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources: through research collaboration, government and private industry partnerships, extension work, student educational experiences and the IANR community from around the world.  

This edition is specifically focused on the many global voices we have on campus who will be sharing their expertise through seminars during spring semester 2020. Graduate student Jazmin Castillo will be defending her master's thesis entitled “Charismatic Predators in modern Africa: Spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) and human coexistence in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve, Botswana” on March 12. We appreciate the expertise we are fortunate to have from all over the world, as shown by their many and varied contributions to the work of the university and our continued mission to create a globally engaged institution. To this end, we want to help our campus community get to know each other (and the world) more, starting with these experts. 

Where is your hometown? Where did you receive your education?

I graduated from South Sioux City, Nebraska. I received my Bachelor's Degree from UNL in Fisheries and Wildlife.

Tell us a little about your path to where you are now.

I've always wanted to go to Africa. It's always been a place that interested me since I was in elementary school. Lions were my favorite animal (don't tell John) so when I heard about a study abroad program through UNL to go to Botswana I was instantly hooked! 

Throughout my undergraduate career, I became drawn to learning about people's cultures. I was a mentor for the SUSI program where they'd bring students from various Southern African countries to learn about civic engagement and took an African Geography course. All these experiences made me realize how little we are taught about other cultures before reaching college. The more I got involved the more I stumbled on more opportunities on campus and got to where I am today.

What is something people don’t know (or that you wish they knew) about where you’re from or where you've done your work?

South Sioux City is in Nebraska. Sioux City is in Iowa. We are close but not the same. 

Africa is an entire continent and each country has its own unique culture, people, and languages. The same way we say going to California is only a snapshot of the U.S. is the same for my experience in Botswana. I have only experienced a snapshot of what Botswana has to offer and I hope people will be drawn to the opportunities our world has to offer.

Why is it important for institutions like the University of Nebraska to have faculty, staff, and students from or with experience from different parts of the world?

In science, we are always looking for ways to maintain diversity in ecosystems for a stronger community and I believe the same can be applied with people. My work was in Botswana but the area was managed by various landowners, similar to Nebraska. Having research projects all over the world allows us to learn and share with other countries so we can be more efficient. Why recreate the wheel when someone halfway across the world already created the car? That being said this experience has also taught me to listen more, be better at collaborations, and approach problems with an open mind.

What is one piece of advice you would share with students?

Don't be afraid to try something new. I am where I am today because I put myself out there. I wasn't supposed to go abroad as a freshman but I still went for it. Being involved helped me build connections and start conversations that I would have never had had I just stayed home. 

We encourage the campus community to attend Jazmin's defense at 10:00 a.m. on March 12 in Hardin Hall 901, or via Zoom

Learn more about Jazmin's path that led her to her current international research interests: 

Understanding Ecosystem Outcasts, NSF National Research Traineeship Program 

New Student Group Celebrates Latino Culture, Natural Resources, Nebraska Today 

SNR Student Spotlight: Jazmin Castillo, School of Natural Resources


Are you giving a seminar in spring 2020 (or the future) and have an international element to your work, studies or background you'd like to see highlighted? Contact Brianne Wolf at