12th June 2017 – Angela Watkins, Welsh Government

Angela WatkinsHi Biotweeps!

I’m currently a civil servant with the Welsh Government, working as Biodiversity Policy Officer in our Land, Nature and Forestry team. I’ve been a civil servant for the last nearly 3 years after having completed my PhD at the University of Southampton in 2014. My role mainly involves developing and delivering biodiversity and nature policy and evidence across Wales and supporting others to do the same.  I’ll hopefully be able to share a bit of insight into what this means during my week ‘(wo)manning’ the Biotweeps account.

A bit of background about me: My PhD was in the field of computational ecology, but I actually completed an integrated PhD as part of the Institute of Complex Systems Simulation, so I don’t have an easy answer when people ask me what my PhD is in! Normally depending on the questioner I’ll either say ecology, or complexity and ecology. In a nutshell, my research involved using complex systems theory to develop a model(s) that could test questions about the relationship between landscape ecology (i.e. connectivity) and species persistence and movement in that landscape. To make this sound cooler, I essentially studied the way that jaguars moved around a fragmented habitat in central Belize. I’ll explain a bit more about this too if you are interested!

My main research interests lie in landscape ecology and resilience, (but will broaden to agent-based modelling, conservation, population ecology) but I am keen to link this with real, direct, on the ground policy decisions and implementation. How can we use our theoretical knowledge to deliver real change in terms of conserving and enhancing our biodiversity?

I’m also a wife and mother of two young girls aged (almost) 5 and 15 months, a passionate feminist and promoter of #womeninscience, naturally. Normally I can be found on twitter @ecologywatkins.


13th June 2016 – Abby Lawson, Clemson University

Abby LawsonI am a fourth-year PhD candidate in the South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Clemson University. I am an applied population ecologist, particularly interested in how individual variation can influence population dynamics. For my PhD, I am building a statewide alligator population model to inform management and harvest decisions. My project components include population survey design optimization, evaluating movement patterns with GPS satellite transmitters, investigating longitudinal foraging patterns, and estimating survival from the longest-running crocodilian mark recapture study in the world. I care deeply about crocodilian conservation, and was recently appointed to the IUCN Crocodile Specialists Working Group (CSG).

I was born and raised in southeast Alaska, but despite the magnificent fauna and landscapes that my home state had to offer, I had had enough of the rain and traded in my rain boots for flip flops at the University of California, Davis. After finishing my B.S., I worked as a waterfowl technician in California, Oregon, Montana, and Alaska before beginning my M.S. at the University of Nevada, Reno. For my M.S. I studied life history patterns and in a nestbox population of Common Goldeneyes in Interior Alaska. During my week at the Biotweeps, I’ll share some highlights from my research and provide a peek into the life of a grad student split between the field and the office.

Expect tweets about crocodilian ecology and behavior, human-wildlife conflict, Alaskan waterfowl (including fluffy duckling pictures), statistics, and working with governmental agencies as a graduate student.

To learn more about my research, please follow me on Twitter @AbsLawson or visit my website where I keep a fledgling blog: https://sites.google.com/a/g.clemson.edu/ajlawson/