David Robledo will go to Costa Rica to research the role of artisanal fisheries in supporting marine biodiversity.
David Robledo, a graduate student working on his doctoral degree in technical communication and rhetoric through the Department of English at Texas Tech University, was named a recipient of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program Open Study/Research Award and will work with marine scientists in Costa Rica.
Named after former U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright, these awards fund the promotion of international goodwill through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture and science.
"Receiving a Fulbright award is a little like getting a ticket to the moon," Robledo said. "You are not sure what to expect, but you know it is going to shift your perspective in irreversible ways. Because the work of fishers and marine scientists who I will be researching is critical to regaining the past grandeur of our oceans, I basically had no celebration mode. When I was notified that I had been awarded a Fulbright research grant, my mind instantly switched into the logistics of preparing myself to be ready to conduct effective research when I arrive."
Robledo is planning to head to Costa Rica in February to work with marine scientists on how the role of small-scale fisheries promote biodiversity.
"Marine scientists and marine communication researchers are trying to find a way forward in the fishery depletion crisis that will reclaim the ocean biodiversity of past decades," he said. "This is an important field that is currently driving many United Nations policy initiatives that have intense cultural and economic implications for coastal zones, where about 40% of humanity lives. Through my research, I intend to engage the broad efforts of marine researchers and policymakers whose goal is to revive the oceans to past grandeur, for the benefit of humanity and posterity."
Wendoli Flores, director of Texas Tech's Office of Prestigious External Student Awards, commended Robledo on his dedication.
"David has been determined to become a Fulbright participant, and he has dedicated a lot of time and hard work over the past few years to earn this award," Flores said. "I am proud to see his efforts recognized and rewarded through a Fulbright Student Award. He is more than deserving of this high honor."
Mark Sheridan, dean of the Graduate School and vice provost for Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs, said Robledo's research could have a significant impact beyond Costa Rica's borders.
"The Fulbright Student Program is extremely competitive," Sheridan said. "This fellowship recognizes the global importance of David's work on fisheries and feeding a growing world population."
Tim Dallas, the associate dean of the Graduate School and a professor of electrical and computer engineering, hopes Robledo enjoys his time in Costa Rica.
"David's many years of hard work are paying off with this opportunity," Dallas said. "We are excited for him."
With the COVID-19 crisis still present, Robledo said he plans to be as cautious as possible.
"I wear a clean, washable mask, social distance, use hand soap when in public and take other precautions," he said. "I am planning to continue this strategy. Do I have concerns? Sure, I do. However, I follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other guidelines for best practices, which I plan to continue in Costa Rica."
Though Robledo put in numerous hours of hard work putting together his Fulbright application and performing his doctoral research, he said it wouldn't have happened without help from many others at Texas Tech.
"While my name may be on the Fulbright award, this effort has involved literally dozens of Texas Tech faculty and staff who can be found in the Graduate School, the Honors College, the Office of Prestigious External Student Awards, the English department, The Helen DeVitt Jones Foundation and many, many other departments and cooperating entities. This list also includes research affiliates, including the National University of Costa Rica, University of Costa Rica's Center for Marine Science and Limnology Research, The Great Basin Institute, the fisher labor organization CoopeSoliDar R.L. and the Fulbright student research program, itself, in both the U.S. and Costa Rica.
"Add to this the consult and letters of support from my dissertation committee, numerous Texas Tech professors, deans, friends and professional associates, and you are left with a teeming interstice of people, resources, organizations and more who have come together to support an idea for research. This web of care and effort to ideas, in my opinion, is what a Fulbright award is really about."
Read more about Robledo's research here.