Rafael obtained his PhD in 2006 from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. He was a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard and Duke Universities between 2007 and 2009. In 2010 he was awarded a fellowship funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) where he worked until 2012. In the summer of that year, he moved to the department of Ecology of the UGR with a Marie Curie Fellowship where he currently works. In the last few years, he has also spent stints at the CEFE (CNRS) in Montpellier and the EEZA (CSIC) in Almeria funded by Talentia Fellowship.
Rafael’s research focuses on the evolutionary dynamics of habitat selection in plants. In essence, he tries to establish how different components of the phenotype determine a plant’s habitat, taking into account that any extant trait results from the interaction between phylogenetic contingency and natural selection. During his career, Rafael has addressed the functional aspects and the evolutionary processes of habitat selection in plants using several systems and a variety of approaches. That has led to a necessarily integrative body of work that bridges evolutionary and functional ecology and incorporating tools from mathematical modeling, phylogenetics, population and functional genetics and plant ecophysiology.
Throughout the years, Rafael has taught at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in three different Spanish universities (Complutense, Granada and Politécnica de Madrid) and in the graduate program of Duke University (US). To date, he has supervised three master theses and two PhD dissertations. Currently, he teaches Evolutionary Biology, Plant Ecology and Evolutionary Ecology at the UGR. Rafael has been the organizer of a NESCent working group and member of another. He also collaborates with the private sector as scientific advisor of a Inveniam Group, an international company specialized in knowledge and technology transfer.