Cáceres trusted the boat, but not her ability to swim. If not for her mother’s encouragement she wouldn’t have applied. But she did, and thus started a research career that so far has lasted more than three decades. The Illinois native graduated from the University of Michigan with high honors in 1991 and eventually returned to her home state—this time as a faculty member at the University of Illinois, in 1997. Now she has received one of the university’s highest forms of recognition. Cáceres has been named the G. William Arends Professor in Integrative Biology. Her family, friends, and colleagues recently gathered at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center in Urbana to celebrate the achievement. Much has changed since her first internship on the lake, but Cáceres, who now serves as director of the School of Integrative Biology, still looks for ways to improve the student learning experience—only now it’s for people other than herself. During her investiture ceremony, she remembered a colleague at another institution questioning whether her teaching and service were taking up too much of her time. “I think he meant it as a way of (advising colleagues in academia) to avoid being overburdened by teaching and service, but to focus on work that would be recognized and rewarded,” Cáceres said. “(But) I teach and mentor undergrads because I am inspired by their passion and the gratitude I receive from those families every year at commencement.”