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.


6th May 2019 – Jesse Czekanski-Moir, SUNY-ESF (Syracuse, NY, USA) / Belau National Museum (Palau)

Jesse Czekanski-MoirHi! My name is Jesse Czekanski-Moir and I’m a Ph.D. candidate in Conservation Biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) in Syracuse, NY, USA. The central projects of my Ph.D. include biogeography, community ecology, and evolutionary biology, especially of ants and land snails in Palau (Micronesia, Oceania). I’m also working on projects involving evolutionary simulations, ancient whole genome duplications in the Mollusca, and non-marine gastropod Phanerozoic diversity patterns. My Ph.D. advisor Rebecca Rundell and I will be co-leading a field course in Palau in a few weeks, so some of my tweets will likely involve fun facts about Palau biogeography, culture, and the conservation biology of invertebrates.

For further information, please check out Rebecca Rundell’s website:

and my profiles at Google Scholar, etc.:

2nd April 2018 – Kevin Burgio, University of Connecticut

Kevin BurgioKevin R. Burgio is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut. He is currently collaborating with researchers from a variety of disciplines, including: ecology, journalism, education, and communications to create effective science communication training, as well as the tools needed to evaluate the effectiveness of training in an NSF-funded project.

When not working on science communication, he is an integrative ecologist and conservation biologist with a range of interests and received his PhD from the University of Connecticut in 2017. He is most interested in the mechanisms of species range limitations and how disturbance (climate change and habitat fragmentation) influences species distribution patterns and extinction processes. With a better understanding of how species adapt and move when responding disturbance, he hopes to help bridge the divide between ecological theory and on-the-ground conservation in order to make the best possible decisions not just for now, but for the future as well. Though he focuses on parrots, he has published on a wide variety of topics and taxonomic groups, ranging from bats, Tasmanian tigers, parasites, to the extinct Carolina parakeet.

In addition to research, he is a first-generation college student, a military veteran, a single father, and a member of the LGBT+ community. In his spare time, he listens to punk music (and created the #punkinSTEM hashtag), restores vintage furniture and cookware, plays with his cat, and has an exotic plant & orchid collection. You can visit his website kevinburgio.com and follow him on Twitter @KRBurgio. His CV can be found here: K.R. Burgio CV.

29th May 2017 – Rutger Vos, Naturalis Biodiversity Center

Rutger VosMy name is Rutger Vos, and I am computational evolutionary biologist at the natural history museum of the Netherlands, Naturalis. My educational background is in evolutionary biology, most especially in phylogenetics, i.e. the field of biology that concerns itself with researching the Tree of Life. For my PhD research, it became clear that I needed to handle amounts of tree and alignment data that were unmanageable to do ‘by hand’ on a normal computer, so I taught myself programming and how to use high-performance computing systems.
One thing led to another and I ended up doing my postdocs as a contributor to various infrastructures having to do with phylogenetics, most notably the CIPRES (http://www.phylo.org) project and TreeBASE (http://www.treebase.org) – but also projects having to do with data standards and data sharing in biology. ‘Open Science’, basically.
Meanwhile, the high-throughput DNA sequencing (NGS) revolution was starting to spit out more and more genomes, with which I started to play around. So much so that by the time Naturalis started looking for a bioinformatician to contribute to the NGS projects that were going on over there I could plausibly apply for a position.
At Naturalis I’ve become involved in a lot of different projects, all of which have bioinformatics or computational biology in common but are otherwise very broad-ranging. I’ve had the good fortune to be able to work with many of the kinds of data, information and knowledge that circulate in a natural history museum. For example, apart from DNA I’m also analyzing image data from our specimen digitization efforts, scanned texts, and species traits and distributions.
On Twitter (@rvosa) I let out my interest in ‘unnatural history’. It’s a totally vague term that I’ve adopted to look at and talk about the cultural ways in which we interact with nature. I mean things like art about nature; the way we, biologists, do science about nature; how we as a species are colliding with biodiversity because of our actions. By the way, I later found out there’s also a book called ‘Unnatural History’. I haven’t read it but it looks neat and it looks like it’s partly about the same topic.