[cancelled] 8th February 2016 – Michelle LaRue, University of Minnesota

Michelle LaRueDr. Michelle LaRue is a research ecologist at the University of Minnesota, where she uses GIS and remote sensing tools to study the biogeography and effects of climate change on populations of Emperor and Adélie penguins, Weddell seals, polar bears, and mountain lions. Michelle received her bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University Mankato in 2005 where she worked as an intern for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, studying chronic wasting disease, habitat use, and distance sampling methods for estimating populations of white-tailed deer. She then moved on to her master’s degree at Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she developed a habitat model and dispersal corridors for cougars recolonizing the midwestern portion of North America. After providing GIS analysis and assistance for the United States Antarctic Program for 4 years, Michelle decided to pursue her PhD in conservation biology at the University of Minnesota. Michelle’s doctoral work included developing GIS/remote sensing methods for assessing populations of penguins and seals in the Antarctic and has since added a methods development project for assessing polar bears in the Canadian Arctic. Her work has resulted in the first ever population estimates of two penguin species, launched her to the executive director position of The Cougar Network, and has been covered by hundreds of media outlets internationally, including BBC, National Geographic, NBC Nightly News, and the Wall Street Journal.


April 6th 2015 – Alex Thornton, Co-founder of IPECS, Founder of APECS US SW, PhD hunting

Alex ThorntonI am an early career marine ecologist studying environmental resource management at the intersection of science and policy in the Antarctic – and seeking funded PhD or career opportunities. I am the co-founder of International Penguin Early Career Scientists (http://ipecs.org) and the southwest representative for the U.S. Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (http://usapecs.wix.com/usapecs). Named a “Future Professor Penguin,” I am also passionate about science communication and excited for the chance to curate Biotweeps.

My interdisciplinary research in ecosystem-based management looks at behavioral or life history changes of seabirds (like penguins) and marine mammals (like seals) across time and space, paying attention to how they respond to variations within their dynamic ocean environment (e.g. shifting oceanographic conditions, increased competition from fisheries, impacts from an oil spill). I then analyze these findings to evaluate how well conservation policies are working or if best-available science suggests we need to negotiate new treaties.

I completed my Master’s in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (’14) at UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography (USA) in collaboration with a NOAA researcher on dolphin mating systems. Prior to that, I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Field Ecology & Conservation Biology from The Evergreen State College (USA). I am currently employed as a Marine Mammal Observer at a US Naval Base. Additionally, I am passionate about political ecology, ethics in research, and applied animal welfare.

I am based out of San Diego, CA, USA, where I live in a RV with my rescue dog. Please feel free to get in touch with any questions or opportunities! You can e-mail me at alex@ipecs.org, follow me on Twitter (@AntarcticWaters), or learn more about me at my webpage: http://ipecs.org/alex-thornton.html.

December 15th, 2014 – Victoria Metcalf, Lincoln University

Victoria MetcalfI’m a marine biologist/geneticist living in New Zealand and mad keen on studying fish and shellfish. I have a particular love of cold places and most of my research is on Antarctic marine life. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to the Antarctic seven times. I’m passionate about doing meaningful research that will help our planet. I am researching the effects of increases in temperature, ocean acidification and pollution because the effects of climate change are something we should all worry about. I’m also fascinated by epigenetics and the role of the microbiome.

I work part-time, mum full-time and am also incredibly interested in the science of parenting. This is why I have my own blog Parenting by Instinct (http://parentingbyinstinct.wordpress.com/) to help parents take on board good quality science which they can use to empower themselves in their own parenting decisions.

I’m a very committed science communicator in the form of community and school/teacher presentations, social media, blogging, media articles and involvement in science festivals. I really want to excite the public about science, especially from a young age.

You can find me on Twitter at @VicMetcalf_NZ and my science blog at http://sciblogs.co.nz/icedoctor/