• Fellow Highlights


2022 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Arturo Macias Franco is an MSc and PhD student at University of Nevada – Reno. 

Born and raised in Torreón Coahuila, México, Arturo always dreamt of being a cowboy. He spent most of his childhood visiting his grandfather’s parcel—admiring nature and the arid agricultural operations of Northern México helped formalize his passion for agriculture.

At times working three jobs to pay for his tuition and living expenses, Arturo attended Napa Valley Community College prior to transferring to the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). He completed his BSc degrees in agriculture and in veterinary science where he was recognized as the Outstanding Graduating Senior. Also, at UNR, under the mentorship of Ruminant Nutritionist Mozart Fonseca, Arturo defended his MSc degree in animal and rangeland sciences with his work on nutritional supplements tailored to decrease voluntary water intake of cattle. 

In 2022, Arturo helped establish the first Undocumented Student Club at UNR. Through his endeavors, Arturo aims to dismantle institutional barriers that keep minority populations from higher education.

We caught up with Arturo about what’s next and what the Fellowship has meant to him: 

Where are you with your graduate program now? Whether you’re still in school or you’ve graduated, what’s the next step for you or what are the steps you’ve taken after graduating?

I defended my doctoral degree in animal and rangeland sciences last May and will be defending my MSc in statistics and data science later this summer. As far as what’s next, I moved to Canada recently :D. I accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Alberta, Edmonton where I will be working on some extensive and in vitro methane modeling projects.

Can you tell us more about your graduate studies? What questions were you pursuing? What was the main focus of your studies?

The sustainable intensification of livestock production systems was the focus of my research. Working in Nevada, water was one of the largest drivers of many of the questions I tried resolving. Through my research, I aim to change the narrative on livestock production and attempt to characterize sustainable cattle production as a solution to the environmental crisis, not a part of the problem. Collectively, all this work attempts to provide tools for producers.

Do you have any favorite memories from the past two years as a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow?

I would say that by far the two Fall Conferences are my favorite memories. The excitement behind meeting all the other Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows the first year quickly made this what I looked forward to the most both years. Besides the wonderful scheduled program and many new experiences that I would likely never experience otherwise, I formed some of the most meaningful memories during the non-scheduled activities. Either barhopping through New York and walking through parks late at night (or early in the morning at that point), playing Uno with some of the Fellows at 3 am, or late-night karaoke followed by more barhopping. Making time to meet the Fellows during the limited time we had at the Fonference was by far my favorite memories of the Fellowship.

Who has inspired you from the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship community?

Every single opportunity I get to meet a new PD Soros Fellow is inspiring and humbling. The alumni association (the PDSFA) has also allowed me to meet and interact with Fellows from all years which has been extremely influential in my development as a professional. Getting to see and witness extremely accomplished professionals in many different fields is extremely inspiring, even more knowing that many of them shared similar journeys to mine. More importantly, and a big representation of what this Fellowship stands for is the humanity behind all Fellows I meet. Regardless of where they are in life and their careers, every single Fellow I have met to this day has warmly welcomed me and made me feel at home – which was extremely special for me.

Has your sense of what it means to be a New American changed or shifted through the Fellowship experience and community?

This might be slightly difficult as of now. Being selected as a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow was by far one of my largest accomplishments as an immigrant. I found a sense of belonging that I hadn’t felt since I first immigrated to the United States, and for that I will forever be grateful. The community has truly become a family to me, and it shifted how I perceived and thought about my contributions as a New American. Having to leave the US because of my legal status has me slightly confused, for after so many sacrifices and accomplishments, at the end it felt like it was never enough to be considered a “true” New American. Nonetheless, I find comfort in knowing that I am part of a wonderful community of New Americans through the PD Soros Fellowship, and should I need it, I am certain there are many helping hands that would be happy to offer guidance on this new journey as an American north of the USA. ∎

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