Growing up on a farm near the Brazilian capital of Brasilia, Thiago Silva dreamed of becoming a veterinarian — and a college professor.
Since his father raised cattle on their farm and was also a professor at a nearby medical school, Silva had an ideal inspiration. His official start date as a clinical assistant professor at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine was Dec. 19, and when he sat down for an interview in late January he was acclimating to the coldest week of the winter, but undeterred and looking forward to his new role.
What is your background?
I’m from the Goiás state in Brazil. I went to college at the Federal University of Goiás as an undergraduate, and I went to veterinary school there, also. I finished in 2007, and I went on to get a master’s and a Ph.D. with a focus on bovine reproduction. I had a residency at the University of Florida from 2017 to 2019, and a professor there, Jose Santos, encouraged me to stay in the United States.
How did you happen to get into this field?
Growing up on the farm I helped my dad take care of the animals, and I just grew up wanting to become a vet with a bovine focus.
What will you be doing in your new job?
I’ll be teaching and working in ruminant theriogenology [veterinary reproductive medicine], especially small ruminants like sheep and goats. But I’ll also be working with bovine reproduction.
What are you most excited about in your role here?
I originally planned to go into private practice, but I got to do some teaching during my residency, and I developed an interest in teaching. I am looking forward to spending time with students and to staying in academia. I get excited about bringing a new mentality to the ruminant world and having the opportunity to design and open a new course. And I’m happy to be here where the weather is better than it is at some of the northern universities.
What is something someone would be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t know. I live a life of simplicity. I am a family person.
When you’re not on campus, where could we find you?
At home with my wife — she is also a veterinarian — and our 3-year-old son. I like to exercise, so I also like going to the gym.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, I have a Labrador retriever named Nina. She’s 7 years old, but I had to leave her in Brazil because it was so expensive to bring her here. I do miss her; she’s so cute. But she’s with my grandma, so she’s got a good home. I still get to see her when we go home for a visit.