Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Environmental Sustainability

Our People

Mariana Valencia Mestre, PhD

Title/s:  Lecturer

Office #:  BVM 422

Phone: 773-508-8280


CV Link: Valencia Mestre CV


Valencia Mestre is interested in multidisciplinary teaching and research opportunities to support ecologically sustainable and equitable food systems. On August 2017, she received her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan (UM). Her research explores the synergies between ecological and social processes that underlay agricultural transformations. Currently, she is researching the interactions between cattle ranching and tree management across cattle pastures in the Republic of Panama. Prior to pursuing her PhD, she completed a Bachelors in Plant Biology at the University of Panama and a Masters in Science at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC). At UIC, she researched the restoration ecology of prairie systems in Illinois and lowland tropical rainforest in Veracruz, Mexico. She is eager to apply her expertise in plant ecology and sustainability to support the students and faculty at IES.  She is also looking forward to exploring community engagement opportunities that help students apply their science and social justice knowledge in support of sustainable food systems initiatives in Chicago and beyond. 


  • University of Michigan, PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2017
  • University of Illinois-Chicago, Masters in Science, 2010
  • University of Panama, Bachelor in Biology, Emphasis in Plant Science, Republic of Panama, 2006                                                                                                                    

Research Interests

  • Plant Ecology
  • Political Ecology
  • Agroecology
  • Sustainable food systems and farming
  • Rural Sociology
  • Restoration Ecology

Professional & Community Affiliations

  • New World Agriculture and Environmental Group,
  • University of Michigan
  • Association for Women in Science
  • Association of Women in Agroecology – Asociación de Mujeres in la Agroecología

Selected Publications

  • Valencia Mestre, M. C., B. G. Ferguson and J. Vandermeer. 2018. Syndromes of production and tree-cover dynamics of Neotropical grazing land. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.  https://doi.org/10.1080/21683565.2018.1483994
  • S. A. Mangan, S. A. Schnitzer, E. A. Herre, K. M. L. Mack, M. C. Valencia, E. Sanchez, and J. D. Bever. 2010. Variation in strengths of negative plant-soil feedback predicts relative species abundance in a tropical forest. Nature 466:752-756.
  • Van Bael, S. A., M. Valencia, E. Rojas, N. Gómez, D.M. Windsor, & E. A. Herre. 2009. Effects of foliar endophytic fungi on the preference and performance of a leaf beetle, Chelymorpha alternans Boheman (Chrysomelidae: Cassidinae). Biotropica 41:221-225.