Pedro Peloso: Diving Into Brazilian Biodiversity

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On October 27, the third cohort of graduates from the Museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School—the first Ph.D.-granting program for any museum in the Western Hemisphere—will receive Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Comparative Biology at a commencement ceremony in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. We're profiling the soon-to-be minted Ph.D.s this week (read other profiles here, here, and here).

Passionate about lizards and frogs, Pedro Peloso, who will receive his Ph.D. degree from the Museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School on October 27, lost no time between defending his dissertation and diving back into researching the biodiversity of his home country, Brazil.

Within a week of defending his dissertation this September, he became a “Science without Borders” Postdoctoral Fellow at the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi.

Pedro Peloso defends his dissertation in September 2014.

Pedro Peloso defends his dissertation in September 2014.


But first came the dissertation defense, a highlight of Peloso’s time as a graduate student. “My work dealt with the phylogenetic relationships of narrow-mouthed frogs (Microhylidae), and I also studied the evolution of reproductive modes in these frogs,” says Peloso.  But it wasn’t so much the subject matter as the people who were there to see him defend his work. “It was very emotional,” says Peloso, “with a room full of people—friends, teachers, family, curators, and science enthusiasts—interested in learning a little bit about all that I have done in the last four years.”


Other high points of his time in the Museum’s innovative graduate school were the research travels, says Peloso, who conducted extensive fieldwork in Vietnam and Brazil and worked with collections and in labs in the United Kingdom, Germany, India, and Australia.  During those trips, Peloso collected data for his doctoral work but also was lucky to find a few undescribed species of frogs, which he continues to describe as part of his post-doc.

In a boat heading out to the Amazonian forest at dusk.  Photo: Marcelo Sturaro

In a boat heading out to the Amazonian forest at dusk. 

Photo: Marcelo Sturaro


Today, Peloso is living closer to home, in Belém, Brazil, but he is continuing collaborations with professors, curators and other students at the Museum—so he expects to be back in NYC quite often.