About me

Current position and research achievements

Estrella Díaz is a distinguished researcher at the University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM) and Marie Sklodowska-Curie Senior Global Fellow, leading a European Union Horizon 2020 project entitled “Smart Tourism Challenges: The Effects of Digital Revolution on Consumer Experience and Business Competitiveness” (SMARTOURISM) as principal investigator (PI). This project has been developed between San Diego State University (San Diego, USA), the European Travel Commission (Brussels, Belgium) and the UCLM. Previously, Dr. Díaz has held different teaching positions at UCLM. Since 2020 she is accredited as Full Professor in the area of Social Sciences by the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA). She is a Full Academic Member of the Young Academy of Spain since July 2021. Recently, Estrella Díaz has been selected by the European Commission as 1 of the 10 tourism experts who will participate in the “Smart Tourism Destinations” project to determine the guidelines for destinations in Europe.

Her research activity has a six-year period recognized by the CNEAI (2008-2015). For the second stage of research (2016-2021), 17 level 1 publications have already been published (10 of them in JCR Q1) and Estrella Díaz already has research merits for a third stage of research. Her research career has focused on the development of different lines of research such as consumer behavior, tourism marketing, distribution and logistics management, and new technologies. Beyond his focus on these different lines, she believes that interdisciplinary research is essential for the advancement of science. In summary, she has 36 articles in first level publications. These scientific publications are completed with 1 book and 7 book chapters, published by Ediciones Parlamentarias de Castilla-La Mancha, Goodfellow Publisher Limited, ESIC editorial, Fundación Ramón Areces, Edward Elgar Publishing or The University of Queensland. Since the beginning of her academic training, she has made regular scientific contributions, but it is remarkable the frequency of publications in the last years, the collaboration with internationally renowned professors from different countries (United Kingdom, Italy, United States, South Korea, China, Abu Dhabi or Portugal) and the relevance of the publishers (Elsevier, Emerald, Sage, Taylor & Francis or Palgrave). Currently, she is collaborating in the field of smart tourism within the Research Department of the European Travel Commission in Brussels.

The quality of her research activities is supported by 11 awards and distinctions. Among these awards the following stand out: Highly Commended Award Winner, awarded by Emerald/EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Award; Extraordinary Doctoral Award for the Best Doctoral Thesis in Social Sciences, awarded by the UCLM; Award for the Best National Marketing Dissertation, awarded by the Spanish Marketing Association (AEMARK); Top downloaded article 2017-2018, awarded by Wiley publishing house or Highly Commended Award Winner 2019 Literati, awarded by Emerald. An outstanding distinction of Estrella Diaz is to be a representative in the field of Social Sciences within the Seal of Excellence for Human Resources in Research (RS4R), assigned to UCLM by the European Commission for Excellence in Human Resources Research in 2019. In addition, Estrella Díaz has received 4 research grants, including the Spanish Tourism Scholarship for a duration of 4 years granted by the Secretary of State for Tourism and the José Castillejo Scholarship for a research stay in the United States funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.

For Estrella Diaz, the international aspect has been key in her scientific career. With the aim of spreading the name of Castilla-La Mancha to other work contexts and achieving synergies with collaborations between the UCLM and different international universities, she has so far completed more than 190 weeks of teaching and pre- and postdoctoral research stays at Bournemouth University (UK), The University of Richmond (USA), Università degli Study di Firenze (Italy), San Diego State University (USA) and European Travel Commission (Belgium). Estrella Diaz has participated in more than 50 national and international conferences organized by prestigious associations (American Marketing Association, Society for Marketing Advances, Academy Marketing of Science, or Fordham University, among others). She has also participated as a guest speaker in several seminars at foreign universities.

Dr. Diaz has been a member of scientific committees in numerous international scientific meetings and is a reviewer for 13 top level indexed journals (JCR). In addition, she is a member of 12 different scientific associations at national and international level, including the research group “Research and Modeling in Marketing”, the International Doctoral School (EID) of the UCLM, the Spanish Marketing Association (AEMARK), European Marketing Academy (EMAC), American Marketing Association (AMA), Academy of Marketing Science (AMS), Society for Marketing Advances (SMA), Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA), Spanish Scientists in the USA (ECUSA), Women in Business Academia (WBA) at San Diego State University or Women in eTravel (WiET).

Within her academic and research career, another fundamental element that she has always tried to keep in mind is the relationship between academia, business and society. Dr. Diaz has participated in 11 research projects at European, national and regional level. Among the funded projects, two stand out where the candidate played the role of principal investigator: 1) a regional project funded by the Cortes de Castilla-La Mancha in collaboration with the UCLM (duration of 2 years) called “Análisis de las Redes Sociales como Estrategia de Comunicación por Organizaciones y Empresas de Castilla-La Mancha” (Analysis of Social Networks as a Communication Strategy for Organizations and Companies in Castilla-La Mancha). This project offered the candidate independence as a researcher, in addition to enhancing her planning and organizational skills, very important attributes in the academic field, and; 2) a European project framed in the Marie Curie Excellent Science actions of Horizon 2020 (duration of 3 years). This research is pioneering in the field of Social Sciences, incorporating a combination of disciplines of great relevance today, such as smart technologies, tourism, SMEs, consumers and society. One of the main objectives of this project is to improve the competitiveness of small and medium-sized tourism enterprises (SMEs) and, consequently, the welfare of society. This project mainly reflects the need to link the academic world with the productive sector. In addition, this research project will provide results on the effect of the role of gender within smart tourism.

The transfer actions towards society have been very important for Estrella Díaz. Thus, she has participated in 6 important collaboration and advisory agreements with various institutions and organizations of Castilla-La Mancha. Among these agreements, it is necessary to highlight the participation in the Maintenance of the Tourism Research System of Castilla La Mancha (SITdCLM). In this collaboration with organizations and institutions, the quality of the transfer of its results to the productive sector through various reports to companies and organizations stands out. Some examples of documents linked to these agreements are the following: (1) Analysis of retail trade in Ciudad Real; (2) Satisfaction of tourism demand in Castilla-La Mancha; (3) Competitive intelligence to support management (I); (4) Competitive intelligence to support management (II); (5) Competitive intelligence to support management (III). In addition, it has collaborated in the publication of a series of tourism bulletins (18 in total) issued quarterly within Turismo de Castilla-La Mancha. Finally, it is necessary to highlight the acceptance of the candidate in the European Coworkings Program financed by the European Commission with the aim of bringing some of the results of her research and innovation to the companies of Castilla-La Mancha, residents and society in general.

Another element linked to knowledge transfer that Estrella Díaz has tried to combine with research and teaching has been the dissemination of knowledge to society through different activities. These outreach activities have focused mainly on raising awareness in Castilla-La Mancha about the importance of research in the field of Social Sciences. These activities include: interviews in audiovisual media (Radio Castilla-La Mancha or SACSIS), press releases and articles published in the press (The Conversation, Agenttravel, House of Spain in San Diego, Marie-Sklodowska Curie Actions, UCLM noticias, La Tribuna, Lanza, La Cerca, Objetivo Castilla-La Mancha, El Español, among other media), creation of blogs and/or web pages (smartourism. home.blog, blog.uclm.es/estrelladiaz) or collaboration with schools and high schools in Castilla-La Mancha to transmit the activities of a scientist. These outreach activities are essential because they raise awareness, communicate and disseminate to different target audiences what the work of a researcher involves and to what extent this work benefits society and the economy.

The main contributions of Estrella Díaz for research and innovation in Castilla-La Mancha are focused on the inclusion of the context of Castilla-La Mancha within its main research, providing results to improve the quality of service, tourism experience, use of smart technologies applied to the destination, relationship marketing, satisfaction of tourism demand or cannibalization of services in tourism, among others. In parallel, the two projects in which Estrella Díaz has been principal investigator have analyzed the context of Castilla-La Mancha to determine, on the one hand, communication strategies and use of social media and, on the other hand, the realization of an action plan to convert certain destinations of Castilla-La Mancha in smart destinations in order to increase the experience of tourist consumers and residents. Through her research, Dr. Díaz has transmitted to the society of Castilla-La Mancha the importance of collaboration and synergy between researchers from different fields, regional, national and international organizations and institutions. The multidisciplinary aspect, diversity and internationalization are central concepts in the Estrella’s research.

An important aspect that she has tried to convey is the promotion of a professional scientific career, within a higher education system that allows potential researchers to design, create, develop and undertake new and innovative projects, to work both in teams and independently and to seek solutions to the major problems of society in all areas. Involvement with young people and helping others have been key elements in its trajectory. In this sense, the supervision of doctoral theses is considered as a fundamental activity to train young people in the field of research, always with an international perspective.

During her stay in the United States she has intensified her involvement in volunteer activities aimed at young people, highlighting her participation as a tutor at Preuss College, where Dr. Diaz helped students with limited economic resources to obtain excellent grades to access university. This link with young people was also reflected in her inauguration ceremony on July 15, 2021 as a Full Academic Member of the Young Academy of Spain with her acceptance speech entitled “Young researcher journey map: Vision and actions to be developed”.

Dr. Díaz has transmitted her experience to children, young people and adults in Castilla-La Mancha performing management, research and teaching functions for more than sixteen years. In addition, she has been the first person to receive a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Global Fellowship in Castilla-La Mancha and one of the youngest women to be accredited for a Full Professor position. These aspects have intensified her leadership capacity. With her research, teaching and management experience, focused on the international arena, Dr. Diaz is a reference for future generations of young people who want to lead projects and research in the field of Social Sciences. In this sense, Dr. Diaz is committed to fight for the visibility of young researchers in the field of Social Sciences, contributing to the progress of science, technology and culture.

Through the main academic milestones described, it is clear that Dr. Estrella Díaz has developed an extensive research activity with several main objectives: to achieve the internationalization of Castilla-La Mancha in academic terms, to increase the presence of the Branch of Knowledge in Social Sciences in different academic fields and in various European calls, to incorporate multidisciplinarity in the different research and to try to create synergies and balance between academia, industry and society.

Academic and professional career

After finishing her degree in Business Administration and Management at UCLM (1999-2004), including an academic year at the Università Degli Studi di Torino (Italy) through an Erasmus scholarship, Estrella Díaz started her PhD in the Department of Business Administration at UCLM. In 2005, a few months after starting her doctoral program, she was awarded a research grant for graduate students by the Vice-Rectorate for Research of the UCLM. This allowed her to join the Marketing Area as a PhD student. Parallel to her doctorate, and with the aim of improving her training, Dr. Diaz completed a Master MBA and Human Resources Management, a Master in Cultural and Inland Tourism and a dissertation in Business Management at the UCLM. Subsequently, in 2008, she obtained a scholarship from the Secretary of State for Tourism and Trade to complete a doctoral thesis in the field of Marketing, new technologies and tourism.

At the end of 2009, Dr. Diaz had the opportunity to obtain a position as Assistant Professor in the Marketing Department of the UCLM. This allowed her to continue her doctoral thesis with a little less uncertainty, facilitating the continuation of her academic career after the defense of her doctoral thesis. On June 15, 2012 he defended his doctoral thesis entitled “Service Cannibalization in Travel Agencies. Analysis of its Consequences on the Employee” with a grade of outstanding Cum Laude, obtaining the mention of international doctorate. However, she was aware that the great effort in an academic career does not end with the defense of the doctoral thesis. Obtaining the doctorate is the culmination of the work, the end of a training stage full of personal, family and professional efforts and sacrifices, which places you at the top of the academic and scientific pyramid. But, at the same time, they place you at the starting point to create, develop and undertake new and innovative projects in a field of knowledge.

From this date, there is a change of professional category to full-time Assistant Professor Doctor until January 2016. From this moment on, she moved to occupy the teaching category of Temporary Hired Doctoral Professor and Interim Hired Doctoral Professor. In July 2019, she moved to the position of Associate Professor of University. In summary, she has a teaching experience of 14 full-time academic years until the academic year 2018/2019. This teaching experience has been recognized by the university through two teaching quinquenniums (the last one being granted by the Vice-Rectorate of Teaching Staff of the UCLM in December 2018).

As part of teaching, Dr. Diaz has participated continuously and with full responsibility in various subjects related to the area of Marketing, participating in different official university cycles (Degree, Double Degree and Master) with more than 1,500 hours of teaching. In addition, she has participated in a wide variety of masters, teaching courses and seminars (440 hours of teaching), obtaining outstanding evaluations and comments from students and from the Teaching Evaluation Commission of the UCLM. This experience demonstrates her knowledge of various subjects, her continuity and her responsibility in teaching. Currently, Dr. Diaz holds the rank of Distinguished Researcher full time at UCLM.

Within teaching, Dr. Diaz has also emphasized the link between the University and the business world. In this sense, Estrella Díaz has organized seminars and collaborations between different organizations and the students themselves with the aim of getting to know the business world first hand. Some of the companies invited have been the brand Auchán Retail España, Orange, Limatours travel or CE Consulting. In the different teaching positions held and academic activities carried out, training has been the driving force to improve their knowledge and skills. This training has been based on attending courses and seminars. In this way, Dr. Diaz has accumulated more than 2,000 hours of training, focusing in recent years on training related to analytics in the tourism sector, smart destination management and European science diplomacy.

Dr. Diaz has co-authored several teaching publications and has actively participated in conferences oriented to teaching quality, courses on the use of new technologies in higher education and seminars on teaching planning. She has also participated in three teaching innovation projects involving the use of collaborative tools and new technologies in Marketing. In parallel, the supervision of scientific papers has been an important element in her research career, as it allows academics to mentor new researchers and, at the same time, learn from them. Throughout her academic life, Dr. Díaz has supervised 29 undergraduate and master’s degree dissertations. She is currently co-directing two doctoral theses, both multidisciplinary and international in scope.

Academic management has also gained importance, being especially noteworthy the position of Vice-Dean of Quality and Coordination in the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences at the UCLM. During this period, very significant achievements have been made. The three main results were the renewal of the accreditation of three Degrees: 1) Degree in Law, 2) Degree in Business Administration and Management and, 3) Degree in Labor Relations and Human Resources Development. In addition, she has held management, secretarial and/or course coordination positions at the UCLM. In addition, she is responsible for two Erasmus programs for students and academics.

Her vision of the research career

As it has been possible to observe through the main academic milestones described, this professional choice is not easy and entails in its trajectory an enormous amount of effort, difficulties, but also a lot of satisfaction and joy when you are reaching certain objectives. The doctorate is a long-distance career, very hard both academically and personally. 

The first lesson that a researcher must learn is that in the world of knowledge one is always learning and undertaking. Everything must be put into question and almost nothing is definitive. It is not an easy path that follows the doctorate program. It is full of filters, intermediate tests, demonstrations, continuous recycling, certifications, accreditations that guarantee the achievement of merits from work and personal dedication. However, working with motivation and dedication becomes the most rewarding career because all the results are the fruit of your own work and effort. In addition, a doctorate and a researcher career allow you to achieve great personal development.

A crucial element in the research career is the support of a mentor, supervisor or person who guides you not only in your doctoral thesis but also in the design of the research career. It is not an easy path and it is complicated to understand, which is why this figure becomes the main one. I still retain the admiration and respect of the disciple for those who guided me and continue to guide me in this work of expanding the frontiers of knowledge through research, feeling comforted with their actions and words of encouragement and support. Surely, without that help and guidance I would not have had the same results.  

A relevant factor in the research career is the synergy and collaboration with different colleagues. Each of the merits of my academic career would have been impossible without the collaboration with the colleagues of my research area, who have helped and taught me so much and with whom I have enjoyed working very much. I feel a deep respect, admiration and gratitude for them.

Sometimes, when you are developing your research career, it is difficult to see results in the short-time and the path becomes more difficult. However, in the end, every effort will be rewarded. Everything is possible if you work with effort and dedication.  That’s why it’s very important to persevere. In addition, the field of research is currently going through a difficult situation of uncertainty, but you always have to be constant and try to achieve your dreams. 

I believe that, in the academic career, merits are harvested little by little and, to do so, determination, discipline, work and dedication must always mediate. Satisfaction follows effort and relief follows conquest. Research is, in itself, an act of generosity. Research is not about knowing more, but about finding answers from science and transferring knowledge to society

Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the scientific careers, as higher education that enables to design, create, develop and undertake new and innovative projects, to work both as a team and autonomously and seek solutions to major problems facing society in all areas.


The first recommendation I would give to people who have started or are about to start a research career is that they are motivated by what they do and have a passion for your work. In the research field there are no hours of work, but hours of dedication to a field that you are passionate about. Thus, it is necessary to work with constancy and perseverance and have confidence in ourselves.  In addition, it is important the exigency in the work done, trying to create a well-done research, even if it has to be re-done again.

On the other hand, it is crucial to get out of the comfort zone and set yourself challenges and goals to achieve. Set a direction that you want to follow, for example, in my case, the incorporation of the international environment with research stays, projects and collaborations with different universities.