Science Faculty Spotlight: Ana Carnaval

January 11, 2023

A biodiversity scientist who grew up in Brazil is passionate about addressing the global extinction crisis through research and advocacy.

Ana Carnaval, CUNY Graduate Center Biology faculty
Ana Carnaval

Ana Carnaval is an associate professor of Biology at The City College of New York and a faculty member of the CUNY Graduate Center Biology Ph.D. program

Dr. Carnaval grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and attended public universities in Brazil through her master’s degree. While in Brazil, she developed a passion for biology during field courses and classes in vertebrate biology and subsequently majored in zoology. 

She moved to the United States for her Ph.D., which she completed at the University of Chicago. There, she developed research focused on South American biogeography. She followed her Ph.D. with a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley.

Today, Dr. Carnaval has a bustling, collaborative lab full of undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. students. The focus of her lab is to document and understand global patterns of biodiversity. She encourages her students to investigate this concept in different systems and at different scales, according to their interests. 

Over the years, climate change and biodiversity extinction have become increasingly urgent issues. As a biodiversity scientist, Dr. Carnaval understands that she plays an integral part in mitigating biodiversity loss. She has adjusted her focus accordingly. She believes that scientists need to be at the forefront of the biodiversity movement and that they should be involved in providing evidence-based advice to guide policy as well as campaigns to raise public awareness. She has honed her skills as a science communicator and educator and even created a new undergraduate course on science advocacy. 

Dr. Carnaval is a committed mentor and educator. She is a dedicated course instructor, and, as a former public university student, she loves the atmosphere and the mission at City College. When asked what she likes most about teaching, she said she loves “how it empowers people. I like to plan my classes in a way that empowers my students and gives them a broader view of what is out there.” She especially appreciates the social mission of City College and how it transforms people’s lives. Both the undergraduate and graduate programs are diverse and inclusive, and she relishes the collaborative and supportive atmosphere at CUNY. 

Learn more about the Ph.D. Program in Biology

When asked what she finds rewarding about being a scientist, she says it's “seeing my students graduate and go on to do their own work.” She advises early-career undergraduate and graduate students, “Self-advocate! Speak up for yourself.” She also urges patience and perseverance as you find your way; focusing on right now and having faith in yourself are essential, she says.

Follow Dr. Carnvaval on Twitter here

Profile by CUNY Graduate Center Biology doctoral students Melina Giakoumis and Rilquer Mascarenhas