3rd July 2017 – Lauren Diepenbrock, North Carolina State University, Entomological Society of America

Lauren DiepenbrockI am an insect ecologist working in integrated pest management as a postdoctoral research scholar at North Carolina State University. This basically means that I study the ecology of insect pests and incorporate that into management programs to help growers produce healthy crops. At NC State, I study a challenging invasive vinegar fly, spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii), a nearly worldwide pest that impacts small fruit crops (cherry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, etc.). I also manage a multi-institutional Specialty Crops Research Initiative grant working with researchers all over the United States on coordinated research addressing the management of spotted wing drosophila.

Prior to my postdoc position, I did a Master’s at Florida State University where I studied the seasonal natural history of trap-jaw ants (Odontomachus brunneus) in North Florida with Dr. Walter Tschinkel. I consider myself very fortunate for this opportunity to observe these organisms and learn about their unique behaviors. The observational skills that I learned during this work have been helpful both in my PhD and postdoctoral research.

I did my doctoral research with Dr. Deborah Finke at the University of Missouri. For my dissertation, I looked at the impacts of resources, historical land use, and invasive species on native lady beetle communities in tallgrass habitats in Missouri. Tallgrass prairie was once the predominant land cover for much of this region and has, over time, been converted to agricultural land. I wanted to understand how changes in land use and the restoration of some lands to tallgrass prairie impacted insect communities, and I chose to focus on lady beetles because of recent studies documenting negative impacts of invasive lady beetles (e.g. Harmonia axyridis, Coccinella septempunctata) on native species. One of our major findings is that grasslands (native or agricultural) are really important for promoting the persistence of native lady beetles.

During my week on BioTweeps, I’ll talk about natural history, insect ecology, beneficial and pest insects, integrated pest management, and ongoing research.  There will likely be random cat pictures, discussion of experiences from grad school and beyond, how to make the most out of interesting opportunities along the way, the hunt for a faculty position… and anything else that is of interest at the time. I’m happy to answer whatever insect questions that I can and refer those that I cannot answer to people who can.

7th March 2016 -Luis Verde Arregoitia, Natural History Museum Bern

Luis Darcy Verde ArregoitiaI’m interested in mammal diversity – past, and present. Through my research I aim to identify the mechanisms that generate spatial and taxonomic patterns of diversity, and the processes that threaten it. My broader interests include ecomorphology, mammalian evolution, biogeography, and phylogenetic comparative methods. I’m currently a postdoc at the Natural History Museum Bern in Switzerland, and my ongoing project involves relating ecology, morphology and phylogeny in rodents using museum collections and molecular phylogenies.

I am a mammalogist by training. For my PhD (University of Queensland: 2010-2014), I investigated the relationship between phylogeny and extinction risk in mammals. This research explored how the evolutionary age of a lineage relates to its current extinction risk (it doesn’t) and the effects of extinctions on phylogenetic diversity and tree topologies. Before that, I studied the ecology of bat migration for my BSc research thesis as part of a biology degree at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM; 2004-2009). I will be talking about museum collections, natural history, bats and rodents, and my experiences in mammal research.

September 7th 2015 – Megan Shersby, Naturalist

Megan ShersbyUnlike many of the contributors to Biotweeps, I’m not in academia though I read BSc(Hons) Animal Science at Aberystwyth University and have considered doing a Masters in the future.  Instead, I work in environmental education and community engagement – namely talking to people about nature.

I am a naturalist. Not an expert (yet!), but an enthusiast who is  inspired by the natural world around me and trying to learn as much as possible, about as much as possible. Unlike many of my contempories, I somehow skipped being a birder and gone straight to insects. That isn’t to say I do not like birds, on the contrary, I love them! But if I attempt to go birdwatching, I inevitably get distracted by insects! Moths are a particular favourite of mine, as they are underappreciated by many but are endlessly fascinating.

I am of the firm believer that we all started out as naturalists, children are inevitably curious about the world around them, and it is only as we grow older that (some of) us lose that curiousity and interest. Sometimes it is due to other distractions, sometimes it is due to peer pressure. However, that spark of joy can be rediscovered within ourselves. Whether it is listening to birdsong, watching a caterpillar eating or viewing the change across seasons, we can reconnect with nature and welcome back our young naturalists into our hearts.

I’ll mainly be tweeting about the following topics, which are close to my heart, but I may also venture into other areas of discussion:

  • wildlife, particularly the moths of course
  • the difficult path to getting a career in conservation
  • young people and nature
  • the benefits of connecting with nature

You can find me on Twitter: @MeganShersby, WordPress: mshersby.wordpress.com and YouTube.

August 31st 2015 – Richard Facey, Natural Resources Wales & Cardiff University

Rich FaceyI was the sort of child that was happiest looking at birds and bugs, collecting shells, rearing tadpoles and caterpillars, and generally being muddy.  Nothing much has changed in adulthood.

I have worked in conservation for approximately the last 13 years, having graduated in Zoology in 2002. Currently I work part-time as a Conservation Officer for Natural Resources Wales. Working in South Wales, in this role I look after and get to explore some of the best habitats Wales and the UK has to offer. My patch covers protected sites on islands, lakes, rivers, estuaries, extensive grasslands and woodlands, as well as a host geological sites. The rest of the time I am a part-time postgraduate student.

My research interests are predominately focused on how organisms adapt to changing environments – be that from climate change or urban expansion. In 2013 I enrolled as part-time post graduate student at Cardiff University. My thesis examines the impact of local weather variation on the seasonal fecundity of swallows Hirundo rustica and the decisions they make to overcome those impacts. It is based largely on data which I have gathered in my free time since 2006. I am supervised by Drs Rob Thomas (@RobThomas14 ) and Ian Vaughan (yet to be tempted onto twitter).

I’ll be tweeting about my research, occasionally about my day job and generally about natural history. If you enjoy my week then you can find more of the same at @faceyrj.

August 11th 2014 – Mike Dickison, Whanganui Regional Museum

MikeDickisonI’m Curator of Natural History at the (Whanganui Regional Museum) in New Zealand. This is a small museum with a 19th-century natural history collection, and a very large collection of moa bones, mostly from a nearby swamp. Moa, New Zealand’s giant extinct flightless bird, are my main research interest—I did my PhD at Duke on the evolution of body size in giant flightlessness birds. I’m also interested in rather old-fashioned anatomy and biogeography; old-fashioned at least compared to the amazing ancient DNA research currently being done on extinct birds. Before I went back to school to study biology I working in museum exhibition development and science communication, and ended up teaching design and typography. Visual communication of science and the design of data graphics is still one of my enthusiasms. I’ve also just started a community (Wikipedia group), I think, is something museum curators and researchers need to take much more seriously.

I tweet as @adzebill and my personal site is www.giantflightlessbirds.com.