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.

26th of September 2016 – Scott J. Davidson, University of Sheffield

scott-davidsonHi, I’m Scott, a final year PhD student at the University of Sheffield with collaborative links with San Diego State University and Utrecht University.
I am researching linkages between vegetation communities and methane (CH4) emissions at multiple scales in arctic tundra landscapes along a latitudinal gradient in Northern Alaska. I am interested in i) identifying the key biotic and abiotic drivers of CH4 fluxes across fine-scale micro-topographic features and ii) combining vegetation community analyses with field spectroscopy and remote sensing to improve vegetation mapping and thus enable better understanding of scaling from chamber to eddy covariance tower measurements. I’m passionate about all things arctic and alpine, alongside an interest in science communication and promoting more diversity in STEM.

25th July 2016 – Sam Urmy, Stony Brook University

Sam UrmyI am a PhD candidate in Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University.  Broadly speaking, I’m interested in how marine animals move through and inhabit their environment–which is often unpredictable, patchy, and turbulent–and how the decisions of individuals lead to the distribution of populations.  To get at these questions, I use a mixture of remote sensing, modeling, and ecological theory.

My dissertation research is on the movement behaviors of common terns at Great Gull Island, NY, as they forage for  fish in the surrounding waters.  I use a scanning radar to track the terns, which lets me observe hundreds to thousands of birds at once without tagging them.  I also use active acoustics (i.e., scientific fishfinders) to map the distribution of the small fish the birds eat.  I have worked on other topics too, including zooplankton in mountain lakes, the distribution of juvenile pollock in the Bering Sea, and deep scattering layers in Monterey Bay.

Before coming to Stony Brook, I got a master’s degree in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington, and a BS in Earth Systems at Stanford University.  I grew up in Brookline, MA, just outside of Boston.  When I’m not sciencing, I like cooking and eating food, reading, nature watching, and people watching.

You can read my blog, Oceanographer’s Choice, here, and follow me on Twitter @ElOceanografo.  If you would like to give me a job, my professional website is at http://www.ssurmy.net.

[cancelled] 8th February 2016 – Michelle LaRue, University of Minnesota

Michelle LaRueDr. Michelle LaRue is a research ecologist at the University of Minnesota, where she uses GIS and remote sensing tools to study the biogeography and effects of climate change on populations of Emperor and Adélie penguins, Weddell seals, polar bears, and mountain lions. Michelle received her bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University Mankato in 2005 where she worked as an intern for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, studying chronic wasting disease, habitat use, and distance sampling methods for estimating populations of white-tailed deer. She then moved on to her master’s degree at Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she developed a habitat model and dispersal corridors for cougars recolonizing the midwestern portion of North America. After providing GIS analysis and assistance for the United States Antarctic Program for 4 years, Michelle decided to pursue her PhD in conservation biology at the University of Minnesota. Michelle’s doctoral work included developing GIS/remote sensing methods for assessing populations of penguins and seals in the Antarctic and has since added a methods development project for assessing polar bears in the Canadian Arctic. Her work has resulted in the first ever population estimates of two penguin species, launched her to the executive director position of The Cougar Network, and has been covered by hundreds of media outlets internationally, including BBC, National Geographic, NBC Nightly News, and the Wall Street Journal.