Lucia Vazquez

Lucia VazquezAnchor link to John Martin videoProfessor Vazquez on undergraduate research at UIS

Meet Lucia Vazquez
Associate Professor/Chair,



  • B.S. Biology: National University of Mexico
  • Ph.D. Plant Biology: Cornell University


  • I was born and grew up in Mexico City, but I moved to New York in Lucia Vazquez quote1996 to start my doctoral degree. Before I started my degree at Cornell I did not speak any English and I had never written anything in English. In preparation for my degree at Cornell, I read many books and taught myself English grammar, idioms, writing techniques, etc.
  • I enjoy working out, reading, outdoor activities, listening to music, dancing, cooking, and knitting.

Interesting facts:

  • I have been interested in science since I was a little girl; I remember starting to collect plants and bugs at the age of 5. I was always a straight “A” student: from elementary to graduate school. One of the accomplishments that I am proud of is that my Bachelor of Science thesis (246 pages) received two awards: one of them was from my college and the second one was from a national biological society.
  • I have traveled a lot in the US from the West- to the East Cost visiting places such as the Sequoia National Park, Yosemite Park, the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, and the Finger Lakes area. Outside the US, I have done fieldwork throughout Mexico and also in Venezuela.
  • A few years ago, I published a new oak species that I found in Mexico. Currently, I am working on the publication of a second new oak species also from Mexico.

Learning philosophy:

  • Here I am emphasizing what I think is the best learning philosophy rather than a teaching philosophy. I relate this to the time when I was a student. My learning philosophy is be committed, be organized, and read a lot. Knowledge opens the door to many opportunities. I want to emphasize that reading is an essential component of learning that is frequently overlooked by many students.

Major project underway:

  • My research interests include the phylogenetic history of plants, molecular evolution of plant genes, assessment of genetic variation in natural plant populations, conservation of forests, and medicinal properties of plants.
  • I have 3 main projects underway: Development of DNA barcodes for identification of oak species, testing of plant extracts for anticancer properties (in collaboration with Dr. Landsberg) and conservation of temperate Mexican forests.

Why hands on research at UIS is special:

Advice to prospective students:

  • First and foremost: find your passion. Find out what you are really interested in and then go after it. Remember that it is going to take a lot of work, sacrifices, and dedication but it is worth it. At the same time, try to live a balanced life. Having good time management skills is extremely important to succeed not only as a student, but also in any academic endeavor.

Best thing about UIS:

  • The best thing about UIS is its small size. This gives us an opportunity to know our students, and to interact with faculty and administrators from other departments and colleges.