10th June 2019 – Chelsea Little, Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology)

Chelsea LittleHi there! I’m Chelsea Little. I just finished my PhD in Ecology at the University of Zurich, and during this time I was based at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology. I will start a postdoctoral research position at the University of British Columbia in the fall. My journey to where I am now included an REU project as an undergrad, a stint as a research technician, and an international Erasmus masters program in Europe, after a detour through semi-professional ski racing. There’s no one “right” path to becoming a scientist!

I have a hard time defining what kind of ecologist because I have worked in a lot of study systems and am interested in many different aspects of ecology and evolution. However, all of the research I do is related to community ecology. I use this and connect to ecosystem processing of carbon and nutrients, to evolutionary biology, and to applied topics like climate change and invasive species. My PhD work was with macroinvertebrate communities in the streams and rivers of Eastern Switzerland. Before that, I worked in plant communities in the subalpine zones of the Colorado Rockies and in northern Sweden, the oak savanna of the Pacific Northwestern U.S., the alpine zone of the Swiss Alps, and the tundra of Svalbard.  I’ve also worked with colleagues on experiments using protozoans in model communities, as well as gathering data from other researchers to use in meta-analyses and reviews. What aspects of ecology do you want to talk about? I’m excited to share my experience and to chat!

Outside of my working life, I am an avid runner, hiker, and cross-country skier – being outside is part of why I became an ecologist in the first place. I also love to travel, cook, and read lots of books. I’ll use part of my time as a host to discuss work-life balance, hobbies, outdoor adventures, grad school life, living outside your home country, and feminism in science.


10th December 2018 – Katherine O’Reilly, University of Notre Dame and National Sea Grant College Program

Katherine O'ReillyI’m Katherine (AKA Katie AKA @DrKatfish), and I’m a Ph.D. candidate studying aquatic ecology at the University of Notre Dame and currently a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellow in Washington, D.C., USA.

My research (in three words): fish, freshwater, and food webs. My research (in slightly more than three words): I look at how fish connect aquatic habitats in the North American Great Lakes. I use a variety of techniques such as stable isotope analysis and otolith chemistry to understand what kinds of habitats fishes use and when they are using them. Understanding freshwater ecosystems such as lakes and rivers, the animals that live there, and effects of humans is incredibly important in a world where freshwater is increasingly at a premium. We’ll be diving into a lot more on this topic during my week on BioTweeps!

Besides catching fish and hanging out on boats around the Great Lakes, you can find me this year in the halls of NOAA HQ as I complete my fellowship with NOAA’s National Sea Grant College program. I serve as Sea Grant’s Science Communications Specialist, which has been an amazing opportunity for me to get experience in doing #scicomm professionally. No matter where my future career path takes me after finishing up my Ph.D. (whether academia, government, or something else), the skills I’m learning during my fellowship year are going to serve me well.

Speaking of #scicomm, I’m so excited to be hosting BioTweeps during the best time of the year: #25DaysofFishmas! What is #25DaysofFishmas, you may ask? For the past two years, I’ve been sharing fish facts each day during December (along with terrible, terrible puns). It’s been an awesome way to connect people from all backgrounds, spread fishy holiday cheer, and maybe even teach people a little about science. While my #25DaysofFishmas started out focusing on Great Lakes fish species, the idea has caught on and now others are sharing fishes from around the world. I can’t wait to introduce BioTweeps to all the fishy fun this year!

9th July 20018 – Brandyn Lucca, Stony Brook University

Brandyn LuccaBrandyn Lucca (@brandynlucca) is a PhD student at Stony Brook University in Long Island, NY. His current interests involve studying how underwater sound reflects off of different types of animals and how both active and passive acoustics can be used to quantify multiple facets of aquatic life. He obtained his BSc in Marine Biology from the University of Rhode Island (2012) and an MSc in Biological Oceanography from Stony Brook University (2016). His MSc thesis work used sonar to quantify distributions of abundance, biomass, and size-class of Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus) in the Peconic River and off the southern shore of Long Island.

His dissertation research, while still in flux, quantifies the ‘acoustic fingerprint’ of individual animals ranging from small krill to larger fish. These measurements are important for converting the acoustic energy what we see on our fancy fish fish finders to actual numbers non-acousticians care about (e.g., number of fish) and identify the types of animals we are seeing. These experiments are conducted in a super-sophisticated water tank that is most certainly not a 44 gallon trash can, which would be preposterous. Brandyn is also an unofficial krill wrangler (and other small critters!) due to his tireless efforts in tying beautiful knots (despite his adviser’s near-daily critiques) to tether the animals since it is significantly easier to record measurements of stationary animals.

Outside of his PhD, Brandyn is pretty bland: no alter-egos, takes mediocre nature photographs, breaks bones by accidentally running into trees, and brews beer that could only be described as “this did not need to be brought into this world”.