Borlaug LEAP Fellow Rafael Martinez-Garcia completed his PhD in Environmental Science and Aquaculture at University of Arizona at the end of 2010. Prior to his doctorate studies, Martinez-Garcia obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Tabasco in his home country of Mexico. While working as a Project Technician at the University of Tabasco, he developed an interest in Tilapia farming, which eventually led to the basis for his doctoral research. Martinez-Garcia's research specifically looked at the sustainability of farming Tilapia in brackish waters and using the nutrient-rich waste waters to fertilize seaweeds and halophytes that can be consumed by humans and animals.
During his Borlaug LEAP Fellowship, Mr. Martinez-Garcia was mentored by Dr. Kevin Fitzsimmons at the University of Arizona and Dr. Raul Ponzoni, who was working at the WorldFish Center. His research enhanced a partnership with the AquaFish/CRSP. As part of a team of researchers, Mr. Martinez-Garcia was awarded an EPA grant, “People, Prosperity and the Planet”, which was designed to develop a project in an indigenous community in southern Mexico. That project was aimed at helping rural farmers harvest greater quantities of improved-quality products, reduce the detrimental environmental and ecological impacts on water and land, and open new and better marketing channels for their products. Ultimately, the goal was to improve the quality of life for their families and communities and increase their overall food security. Upon completion of his PhD, Rafael Martinez-Garcia returned to Mexico to work as an Associate Professor at the University of Tabasco.