26th November 2018 – Cecilia O’Leary, Stony Brook University

Cecilia OLearyI’m a quantitative ecologist and oceanographer. In general, I study marine animal size and age structures (what sizes and ages make up a population) & how environmental and biological processes drive this. We often call this field population dynamics. Lately, I’ve focused on the temporal population dynamics of fish and how climate influences those dynamics (i.e., how do fish numbers change over time?). I think about why we’re observing the number of fishes we see in the ocean, and if large-scale regional climate patterns can describe those changes in abundance. I’ve also studied marine mammals in the past.  I always try and tie my work back to the application of these findings. Often, that means how will a populations response to climate influence the effectiveness of our fisheries management. I enjoy studying both fisheries and marine mammals because of their direct ties to management and importance to the sociology and economy of many coastal places. I love field work and have been lucky enough to participate in fieldwork in the Florida Keys, Mojave Desert, Antarctica, and the Missouri River. The majority of my day to day work now is programming, primarily in #rstats. I’m also all about social change & inclusion in STEM, humanizing the Ph.D. process and the igniting open discussions about the struggles we face as students, and promoting women in STEM. Finally, I absolutely love to talk to students, especially young woman, about what life is actually like as a scientist, so feel free to contact me about speaking to your classroom! You can read more about me, my science work, and life as a woman in STEM here: https://rapidecology.com/2018/03/15/ecologist-spotlight-cecilia-oleary/

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19th November 2018 – Elizabeth Franklin, University of Guelph

Liz FranklinMy name is Liz Franklin and I am an behavioural ecologist and entomologist. My passions are wide spreading but I generally come back to the behaviour of individuals and groups, particularly in the social insects (that’s ants bees and wasps). I studied ant behaviour for my PhD and now I study bumble bees again like in my undergraduate. I am originally from the UK but right now I am working at the University of Guelph in Canada as a post doctoral fellow working on a range of projects to understand how bumble bees use landscapes.

Next to doing science my next favourite thing is talking about it! I am a massive advocate of science communication and engage both in outreach for my work but also as a volunteer. Hopefully I can give some advice to those who are interested in this area.

Along with sci comms I hope to talk about the social insects, highlight some of the cool research going on out there, particularly in the realms of behaviour. I will give a shout out to bee diversity, test the waters of your bee knowledge and hopefully answer your burning social insect questions.

Look forward to speaking with you all!

22nd October 2018 – Katherine Raines, Univeristy of Stirling

Katherine RainesI have recently finished my PhD at the University of Stirling. My PhD investigated the effects of low dose chronic ionising radiation to bumblebees as part of the NERC Radioactivity and the Environment (RATE) programme.

My fieldwork involves visits to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and laboratory-based experiments to gain understanding as to what has happened to the wildlife over 30 years post-accident. The focus of my research has been at looking at life history endpoints in bumblebees such as reproduction and lifespan to understand if radiation dose rates found at Chernobyl cause damage to invertebrates. A development during my research resulted in a focus on the interactions between parasite infection and radiation dose rate both in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and in the laboratory.

Presently, I am preparing for my PhD viva and trying to put together a meta-analysis of the data on effects of radiation from research that we have undertaken during the programme on a range of different species.

I am just about to start a NERC knowledge exchange fellowship for the RATE programme. Pulling together all the research from across the wide-ranging programme and making it available for users such as regulators and governments. This research ranges from the physics and geology relating to the planning of the Geological Disposal Facility for high-level radioactive waste which has been proposed for the UK, the chemistry of how radionuclides move in the environment and in particular into human food chains and the biology of effects of radiation to wildlife.

Outside of academia, I love gardening, dressmaking and keeping two stepchildren off the Xbox by running around in the Scottish outdoors.

15th October 2018 – Cassie Freund, Wake Forest University

Cassie FreundI am a PhD student at Wake Forest University. I study community ecology in tropical forests and my current research focuses on the role of a large natural disturbance, landslides, in shaping Andean montane forests. My research site is in and around Manu National Park, Peru, and I am part of the Andes Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research Group (www.andesconservation.org). I am particularly interested in how these forests regenerate after landslides, what this means for carbon storage of montane forests, and how landslides and climate change may interact in the future. My work integrates fieldwork, drone technology, and LiDAR (in collaboration with Dr. Greg Asner) to understand the role of landslides in Andean landscapes.

Prior to starting my PhD I worked in Indonesian Borneo for about five years, first doing research on tropical peat swamp forests and later as the program director of the Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Program. I’ve written or contributed to articles about topics ranging from microtopographic variation in peat swamp forests, to the orangutan trade, to ecosystem services! I will touch on many of these things during my week hosting Biotweeps. Finally, I also write popular science articles for Massive Science, and my articles can be found here: https://massivesci.com/people/cassie-freund/. My personal website is: https://cathrynfreund.wordpress.com/ and I usually tweet over at @CassieFreund.

10th September 2018 – Phil Bouchet, University of Western Australia/Bangor University

Phil BouchetI am a jack of several trades – marine mammalogist by training, converted into shark/fish ecologist as a doctoral student. Born and raised in the French Alps, I spent the last decade Down Under and have only just moved back to the UK to start a new postdoctoral position at Bangor University. In this role, I will be quantifying and mapping risks to marine mammals and seabirds resulting from a number of anthropogenic threats such as fishing bycatch, vessel strikes and exposure to human-made underwater noise.

I have a keen interest in spatial ecology and statistical modelling as they relate to wildlife conservation problems, and always get a kick out of crunching numbers. My PhD research focused on hotspots of marine vertebrates, and how these aligned with prominent physical features of the ocean floor such as seamounts, submarine canyons, or offshore shoals and banks. Part of this work involved the development of a new generation of midwater baited underwater video cameras that can be used to film endangered species in deep-water environments. More recently, I have also been building abundance models for a number of cetacean species (humpback whales, bottlenose and snubfin dolphins) and distribution models for large pelagic fishes (tunas and mackerels).

Fun facts: My parents’ dog and I share the same name; my marine biologist wife @sarahmarley86 and I once conducted an observational study on seals (with big binoculars!) on what we later discovered was a nudist beach; I speak with a chiefly north American accent (the product of years of binge watching soap operas to learn English), which confuses the heck out of everybody. Sometimes even me!

This week, I want to chat about the oceans, as well as about all aspects of academic life, including uprooting one’s family in pursuit of postdocs, the challenges of the two-body problem, gender equality in STEM, and more.

Post-doctoral Marine Top Predator Ecologist
Bangor University – School of Ocean Sciences

Twitter: @pjbouchet
Website: https://pjbouchet.github.io/

27th August 2018 – Paul Julian, University of Florida

Paul JulianI’m Paul Julian (@SwampThingPaul), a recent PhD graduate from the University of Florida Soil and Water Sciences Department in Gainesville, FL. During my PhD studies, I was also working full-time (and continues to work post-PhD) at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) supporting Everglades Restoration efforts. In addition to working at FDEP I am also a Postdoctoral Associate in the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience at University of Florida under Dr Todd Z Osborne.  My PhD research focused on understanding biogeochemical processes within the Everglades Stormwater Treatment Areas (wetlands) including nutrient spiraling, nutrient stoichiometry, aquatic productivity and carbon dynamics.  Generally, I have diverse and varied research interests (webpage link) all revolve around aquatic ecosystems biogeochemistry, ecology and management. My current research interests are split between marine and freshwater wetlands studying the effects of climate change, eutrophication, ecosystem management and restoration on ecosystem function. I like to say that my research spans the aquatic continuum from fresh to marine aquatic ecosystems.

My other academic achievements pre-PhD include obtaining a BSc of biochemistry from Benedictine College (Atchison, Kansas, USA) and MSc of Environmental Science from Florida Gulf Coast University (Fort Myers, Florida, USA). My masters work involved studying Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi) habitat selection and home range dynamics in response to exotic plant removal and management within Big Cypress National Preserve (Florida, USA). Post-bachelor’s degree I immediately entered the work force studying coastal water quality, estuarine dissolved organic matter dynamics and harmful algae blooms in southwest Florida. After several years I decided it was time to purse an advanced degree and took a detour studying something outside of my existing background (wildlife ecology). I was a rather un-traditional student and while working full-time I pursed my master’s degree. After obtaining my master’s degree I moved onto studying seagrass ecology and later to Everglades restoration with a focus on water quality which led me to the wetland biogeochemistry lab at University of Florida where I (un-traditionally) achieved my PhD.

Outside of work and school I like to get lost in nature by going on long hikes through the bush, document my adventure with photography (Flickr), snorkel and scuba dive, cook vegan meals, exercise and be overall active.

6th August 2018 – Alexander Georgiev & Ann-Sophie Warkentin, Bangor University

Jointly hosted by:

Alexander GeorgievDr Alexander Georgiev
Lecturer, School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University
Twitter: @alexvgeorgiev
Website: alexandergeorgiev.co.uk

I am a primatologist interested in behavioural ecology, physiology and conservation. I am particularly keen on understanding the great variation of reproductive strategies seen among primates, both within and between species. Two key questions I am beginning to address in my ongoing work are: (1) How anthropogenic disturbance affects the physiology and health of primates living in human-modified habitat; and (2) Whether that in turn influences their reproductive performance and, by implication, the long-term survival of their populations.

I have studied the energetics of male reproductive effort in chimpanzees in Uganda, and have also worked with wild bonobos in the DRC, free-ranging rhesus macaques in Puerto Rico and data on human life history and reproduction from Cebu, in the Philippines. I am now in the process of establishing a long-term field study of the endemic and endangered Zanzibar red colobus at Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, Zanzibar. This week on Biotweeps my student (Ann-Sophie Warkentin) and I will be tweeting live from Jozani Forest and the surrounding agricultural fields about our work with these fascinating colobines! Join us to find out more about the challenges of starting a new study involving multiple groups of similar-looking individual monkeys. And more.

Ann-Sophie Warkentin_2Ann-Sophie Warkentin
MScRes student, School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University
Twitter: @ASWarkentin

I’m a MScRes student in Biological Sciences at Bangor University after having just completed my BSc in Zoology with Animal Behaviour also at Bangor. I’m interested in ecology, especially behavioural ecology and anthropogenic disturbance. My undergraduate dissertation examined the ecology of small mammals using camera traps. I’m originally from Germany and decided to study in the UK due to the more specialised degrees and modules offered there. Through one of these modules in third year, I got more interested in primatology and got in contact with my current supervisor to talk about potential MSc projects.

During my fieldwork this summer, I am collecting data on activity budgets and ranging behaviour of Zanzibar red colobus to investigate potential effects of tourism on the colobus at our study site. Because the monkeys at Jozani are very well habituated, they are frequently visited by tourist groups of different sizes and compositions and I am interested to see if the behaviour of these tourists affect the colobus’ behaviour and ranging patterns. This is my first real experience with fieldwork and I’m excited about the opportunities and experiences that come with it. During the week of co-hosting Biotweeps, I’m hoping to provide an insight into what fieldwork can look like at a pre-PhD level and I will talk about how I got to be here in the first place.