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!


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.

24th of October 2016 – Zarah Pattison, University of Stirling

zarah-pattisonHi! I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Stirling working on the effects of connectivity on the abundance and presence of E.coli in freshwater lochs/lakes across the UK. This work forms part of the Hydroscape project led by Stirling University and has a great variety of scientist working on all things freshwater. I have just submitted my PhD thesis which focused on the effect of changing environmental conditions on invasive alien plants and how this may impact native vegetation communities. Now I nervously await my PhD viva in December.

My academic life is a total contrast to my previous 10 year career as a make-artist. Whilst working full-time I studied through the Open University to get the qualifications I needed to start an undergraduate degree at Royal Holloway, University of London. It was here that I changed from Zoology to Ecology and fell in love with plants and microbes. I also completed a research masters degree at Royal Holloway, assessing the role of plant-soil feedbacks in the invasive alien plant, Impatiens glandulifera (Himalayan balsam).

It is safe to say that I am now hooked on research, fieldwork and plant ID (“weeds” preferentially). As a south African woman, fuelled by coffee, I try and get involved as much as possible in STEM outreach and hope that somewhere in the near future we can encourage more young girls (and boys) to enjoy science as much as we all do!