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Where are they now? Former Accelerate intern spreads the word about Mitacs

After receiving his PhD in forest ecology from Universidad Pública de Navarra in 2004, Dr. Juan Blanco decided to bring his forestry expertise to the University of British Columbia (UBC). After his initial term as a visiting scientist, Juan then took a postdoctoral fellowship at UBC’s Faculty of Forestry, where he stayed until 2011.

During Juan’s postdoc, he undertook four Mitacs Accelerate internships with FORRx Consulting Inc., a Vancouver-based firm specializing in ecosystem modeling. Juan credits his Accelerate experience with giving him a significant professional jumpstart:

“The funding was key to developing my academic career, my relationships, and my understanding of the use and transfer of my research for real-life and business situations.”

As an Accelerate intern, Juan was introduced to Mitacs Step’s professional development workshops. He acquired several new business skills that complemented his academic training:

“I consider the Step workshops very valuable for my training in skills, like project management, networking, writing, and presenting, that are usually left out of academic programs. I learned many tips that I use almost every day in my daily work.”

In 2012, Juan returned to Spain where he assumed a research role with the Spanish government and was granted a Marie Curie fellowship. He now works at the Universidad Pública de Navarra as a senior researcher, focusing on ecological models that simulate influences on tree growth, and aims to become an associate professor at the university in a few years.

Thanks to his positive experiences with Accelerate and Step, Juan advocates often for similar programs in his native country:

I tell everybody in Spain that I would like very much to see a Mitacs-like organization implemented in Spain… and hopefully the Mitacs Globalink program will extend to someday include Spanish students!”

Until that day arrives, Juan is maintaining a connection to Canada and giving others the chance to create connections of their own:

I am sending my first PhD student back to UBC for a short research stay, hoping she can experience the Canadian university life that I enjoyed so much.”