Graduate Spotlight: Esmeralda Castro

image of Esmeralda Castro

Learn more about Esmeralda Castro, a PhD student graduating from the Prevention Science program, through our Graduate Spotlight series.

“Esmeralda is a dedicated contributor to the field of physical activity promotion and chronic disease prevention, to the Prevention Science program, and to her students in the FHS program.” – Elizabeth Budd, PhD

Meet Esmeralda Castro (she/her/ella) a PhD student graduating from the Prevention Science program. She is a member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Board, a recreational soccer player, and an assistant high school soccer coach. 

While at the University of Oregon, Esmeralda has excelled in her research and academic performance. She is a member of Evergreen Associate Professor Elizabeth Budd’s research team where she was able to explore and discover her research interests. From crafting and taking the lead on managing studies to increasing her confidence in her statistical and writing skills, Esmeralda credits her experience on Budd’s team to helping her grow as a researcher and instructor. Castro has been finalist for the Latino Caucus outstanding student paper award, has been a CSU Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program (CDIP) Fellow and was a CSU CDIP Pre-Professor Program Fellow. 

Over the past four years, she has also mentored undergraduate and master’s students. Esmeralda has appreciated how this experience is bidirectional, where she has learned new perspectives and created long-lasting friendships. Following graduation, she is excited to begin her postdoc position with UC San Diego’s Integrated Fellowship in Epidemiology and Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases.

Hometown: Wasco, CA

What are some valuable lessons you’ve learned while mentoring undergraduate and graduate students? How has this experience influenced your own personal and professional growth?

I think mentoring is one of the most rewarding experiences because the relationships are really bidirectional. From mentoring, I have gained confidence in my own teaching and research abilities, learned new perspectives, become more compassionate, made some great and long-lasting friendships, and uncovered and pursued new opportunities that I might not have otherwise.

How did your time as a member of Liz Budd’s research team develop skills that will help you in your career?

I really enjoyed being in Liz Budd’s research team. First, just the name of the group showed me that  we are a team first – and I felt that during my time here. I learned and grew a lot as a researcher and instructor as well. From crafting up and also taking the lead in managing large research studies, to gaining a broader perspective of my research interests, to increasing my confidence in my statistical and writing skills, to refining my balance between work and leisure activities. Liz Budd’s team has been a real treasure!

What are your plans following graduation?

I am excited for my postdoc position with UC San Diego’s Integrated Fellowship in Epidemiology and Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases.

What advice would you give incoming/current students?

Get involved in anything and everything that you think is interesting, even if you don’t know anyone willing to join the org/go to the event with you. You never know what opportunities it’ll lead to or who you’ll meet.

What made your experience at the University of Oregon special?

The UO is special to me for a few reasons. Firstly, the COE faculty and staff are some of the nicest and most compassionate people I know. Additionally, I got to meet many great people outside of COE, which was great because I knew I would be able to get away from talking about my classes and work. The folks I have met have made my experience here (a state where I first knew no one!) incredible.