Silvia Medina Villar - Faculty Story | IE

Silvia Medina Villar

About me

I’m from Madrid, Spain and professionally trained as a biologist. I believe that educating students about how our planet and life function and how to take care of them is one of the most important tasks in our society and the best way to make a good impact on the next generation. My goal is to continue researching plant ecology and biological invasions while teaching biology and ecology to undergrad students. In my free time, I like to climb and hike. I also love to get to know other places and cultures and visit natural parks.

shapeSilvia Medina Villar
case2Adjunct Professor for the Bachelor in Environmental Sciences for Sustainability

"If you like research and innovation and want to make a difference in the world, a career in environmental sciences and sustainability is what you are looking for."

Silvia Medina Villar

A passion for biology

Silvia Medina Villar is a biologist at heart. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in Spain, before going on to pursue her master’s degree in renewable energies and earning her PhD in Ecology, Conservation and Ecosystem Restoration. Through her thesis, she investigated how exotic invasive trees can ecologically impact fluvial and riparian ecosystems. During this time, Silvia was also a visiting researcher at Universidade de Coimbra in Portugal and the University of California in the US—both of which she found to be rewarding experiences that allowed her to discover other cultures and ways of working. 

Once Silvia had completed her PhD, she dove right into real-world research. Specifically, her study focused on how global change motors, such as exotic invasive species and climate change, can act in concert to affect biodiversity. She later went on to win a competitive postdoctoral contract in Chile, where she was the principal investigator of the research project at Universidad de La Serena. 

Silvia returned to her Spanish homeland some years later to work in the Plant Protection Products Department at the National Institute for Agricultural and Food Research Technology (Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria, INIA)—the national research arm of the Spanish National Research Council (Centro Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC). After her time there, she secured a permanent position at the Center for Plant Biotechnology and Genomics (Centro de Biotecnología y Genómica de Plantas, CBGP).

Currently, Silvia is turning her talents to teaching, leading various biology classes at IE University and collaborating regularly with other researchers to enrich both her knowledge and her students’ experiences. She is also a published author, with her articles and research papers appearing in a number of respected journals, including Biological Invasions, the European Journal of Forest Research, Aquatic Ecology, Environmental Reviews and many more.

Silvia Medina Villar - Faculty Story | IE UniversityPursuing a career in biology was always on the cards for Silvia. She was always interested in learning how plants adapt to different environments and interact with each other. However, globalization has added a new dimension to her passion. After all, the movement of different species around the globe has grown over time, increasing the chance of these introduced species becoming invasive. Now, biological invasions are one of the world’s main causes of biodiversity loss, not to mention the socioeconomic impacts posed by invasive species. That’s what makes Silvia’s research so important—she is able to suggest prevention and control measures to protect our planet, thanks to her in-depth knowledge of the subject. She champions the need to implement more sustainable practices that mitigate the consequences of the Earth’s changes.

Silvia believes there is no better way to learn than to teach. She sees her classroom as a two-way street—her students reach their academic goals while she gets the chance to improve her communication skills and teaching methodologies. To her, IE University offers a very innovative, international and multicultural environment that makes teaching enjoyable. What’s more, the university’s reputation as one of the first carbon-neutral universities worldwide adds to its competitive edge. 

Teaching in the Bachelor in Environmental Science & Sustainability has been a life-changing experience for Silvia. She is proud to be part of what she describes as an innovative program; one that helps prepare the next generation of global leaders to provide comprehensive and sustainable solutions to modern environmental challenges. “In this program, students receive an overview of how planet Earth and all its components and habitants work,” she explains. Designed by the Sustainability Office for exactly this purpose, this bachelor’s degree program helps students develop sustainable measures, techniques and strategies adapted to different geopolitical, cultural and socioeconomic contexts. 

To Silvia, being a good environmental scientist demands a certain level of curiosity. To succeed in the field, you have to be creative, have an open mind and be driven by a desire to conduct meaningful research. Similarly, building up expertise in sustainability requires motivation to help our planet, a need to understand the root cause and characteristics of critical problems, the ability to find ingenious solutions and the vitality to inspire and educate others toward change. As she says, “If you like research and innovation and want to make a difference in the world, a career in environmental sciences and sustainability is what you are looking for.” 

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"If you like research and innovation and want to make a difference in the world, a career in environmental sciences and sustainability is what you are looking for."

Silvia Medina Villar