Student Spotlight: Santos Yenandy Barrera Lemus

Santos Yenandy Barrera Lemus
Meet Santos Yenandy Barrera Lemus, senior doctoral student studying plant breeding and genetics from Aquitania, Colombia.
July 6, 2021

Hometown: Aquitania, Colombia

Major: Plant Breeding and Genetics

Anticipated Date of Graduation: December 2021

Why did you decide to come to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

Growing up, I never imagined I would have the opportunity to go to college, let alone study for a doctorate degree, especially the United States. Before I came here, I had conducted research involving dry beans for five years, and I wanted to continue working with dry beans in my doctorate degree. I decided to come to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln because of its recognition in agricultural science. Since the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has a long history of working with recognized bean breeders like Dermot Coyne and currently Carlos Urrea, I saw this university as the best option for continuing my research in breeding dry beans to withstand climate change. 

What is your favorite thing about the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

My favorite thing about UNL is the instructors. I feel like the professors are dedicated to seeing their students truly learn the material that they teach. In each class, I can see the professors really take the time to present their knowledge in a way that students don’t just absorb information, but they learn and grow.

How has diversity and inclusive excellence played a role in your CASNR experience?

Diversity and inclusive excellence in CASNR have allowed me to learn about people from all over the world. Growing up in Colombia, I never had the privilege to travel or meet anyone from another country. Now, I have developed close friendships with people from Africa, South America, Asia, Europe and the United States. Being part of CASNR has positively changed my understanding of other cultures and how I relate to others. 

What is your favorite class you have taken so far and why?

My favorite class so far was molecular biology taught by Dr. Paul Staswick. I enjoyed learning about the intricacies of biology on a molecular level. Dr. Staswick was able to describe the specificities of how genes function in a way that was easy to understand and fun to learn. It strengthened my foundation of molecular knowledge, and I’m excited to apply it to my research.

What are your plans post-graduation?

I have planned to help people in many ways. One of them is developing new bean varieties that farmers can use. I also want to transfer all the knowledge I've learned to my community by teaching. I hope to continue my work teaching and researching at a university to positive impact my community and who knows, maybe the world.  

What’s life like outside of school?

Studying for a doctorate degree does not allow a significant amount of time outside of school, but I enjoy bike riding, traveling to national and state parks and hanging out with my friends in the free time I have.