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Voices of ACES Blog

Joana Colussi shares her expertise on global agribusiness

Joana Colossi standing with a microphone pointed towards her mouth

How do you think you would fare if you moved to a new country a month before the pandemic to start on a new career track? Joana Colussi worked as reporter in her home country of Brazil, covering Brazilian agriculture, when she decided she wanted to do more and further her education.


After obtaining a master’s in agribusiness and starting a doctoral degree in Business Administration, she came to the U.S. to join the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) as a visiting research scholar. Last year, after finishing her Ph.D., she started working as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics (ACE). She wanted to broaden her scope and expand her global perspective. When she came to the U. of I., she felt that “living abroad is like being born again.” 


ACES offered Colussi community, support, and an experience like no other. During the pandemic she felt lonely and isolated with many of her connections happening online and via LinkedIn but her advisor, ACE professor Gary Schnitkey, and her mentor, ACE professor emeritus Steve Sonka, met with her often to offer guidance and support. Joana also met with other professors who were able to address any questions she had. When Joana needed a new laptop in 2020, she borrowed one from the College of ACES for a while, and she appreciated the support and resources available to her.


Colussi conducts research on technology adoption on agriculture and she notes that because the U. of I. is a well-known school and a major player in the agriculture industry, people readily respond to research inquiries in the United States and countries in South America, such as Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. She also appreciates the extensive library resources and English as second language courses that university offers to the international scholars.


Colussi is a prolific contributor to the Illinois Extension farmdoc team, focusing on South American agriculture. In today’s global world it’s important to understand how weather and production in different parts of the world impact commodity market, she says. Her background as a journalist helps her communicate with audiences in various ways.


She has found the ACES family to be a welcoming community. “They supported me in many ways, especially with great opportunities. I never felt judged. The academic field is very competitive; yet, I didn’t feel the need to prove myself, I am treated with respect and trust” she says.


This fall, Colussi is sharing her knowledge of international agriculture with 80 students as an instructor for Global Agribusiness Management (ACE 435) at the U. of I. “It’s a huge challenge but I am learning from amazing students and enjoying the journey”.  


If there is one thing to take away from this, don’t be afraid to try new things, to switch careers, to move across countries, because in the end you will end up where you belong and with the experiences you were meant to have.