• Volume 18 Number 2
    Spring 2009


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Tamara Benjamin, MS ’96, PhD ’00
 Turrialba, Costa Rica  •  Profiled: Spring ’07

Professor of agroforestry

As partners in a mixed marriage (she’s from Minnesota, he’s from Costa Rica), Tamara Benjamin and her husband, Allan Esquivel, practice separate-but-equal parenting.

When they talk to their two daughters, Sofia, 11, and Fatima, 8, she speaks nothing but English and he speaks nothing but Spanish.

Such is the bi-hemispherical world of Benjamin, who not only holds a research scientist appointment with Purdue’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources but also an appointment with Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), the tropical agricultural research and higher education center in Costa Rica.

“I still work with both undergraduate and graduate Purdue students, getting them on study abroad and international research experiences,” Benjamin reports. “In general, my job hasn’t changed much, but I am doing more and more research projects with faculty throughout the College of Agriculture, and not just in forestry and natural resources.”

Benjamin met her husband, a Costa Rican farmer, while on assignment with the Peace Corps. But her postgraduate work at Purdue allowed her to interact with people from all over the world.

“I was able to broaden my mind by taking classes throughout the College of Agriculture and meeting people from all different walks of life,” Benjamin says.

“The numerous people from other countries became some of our closest friends and continue to be. I had to work hard at the classes, research, writing, etc., and those skills have been translated into a very rewarding job now. Had I not had these experiences, I would not be as successful as I am. The tools I developed while at Purdue will be with me for the rest of my life.”