Pedro Rojas Barros

Graduate Student - Atucha Lab


Amaya Atucha

Research Focus

Horticulture PhD


Santiago, Chile

Where did you complete your undergraduate/master’s/PhD?

I completed my undergraduate degree in Horticulture (major in fruit crops) at Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso and my master’s degree in Horticulture at UW-Madison

Pedro Rojas Barros 2018_2

What is your research about and what is the impact? How does it relate to the horticulture industry, what is the goal?

My current research is about understanding cranberry fruit development and how different anatomical traits are related to fruit firmness. Fruit firmness is required for sweetened and dried cranberries, which is a higher value product that returns more money to the grower. With this background, we expect to find ways to enhance fruit firmness through horticultural practices.

If you went to the past, what would your younger self say they wanted to be when they grew up? What between then and now inspired the change in careers?

I think a scientist. I always had it in my mind. Even though my parents never encouraged me to be one (for example, I asked several times for toy microscopy and I never got it), it flourished naturally in the last years of my undergrad. During the last year, I developed a project for a seminar class that, without clearly knowing, was very related to science. After that moment I knew, I was going to work in science. My path to get here was not a straight line but here we are, happy doing what I really love.

What inspires you to do the work you do?

What really inspires me is getting results. No matter if there is a significant difference or not (yes, p-value), I feel so much joy when after a lot of time working (usually months or years), I see the results (in a small plot or table, which is funny). Also, my current lab has a lot to do with extension, so communicating the findings to the grower and helping others to understand better how horticulture is important for fruit production, also makes me happy and inspires me to work even harder.