6th March 2017 – Tim Lucas, University of Oxford

tim-lucasI am a postdoctoral scientist using geospatial statistics to study malaria epidemiology. My focus is the disaggregation of administrative level malaria case data to pixel level estimates of disease risk. This is particularly important in areas of low malaria prevalence. I have written a number of R packages including Zoon, a package for ecological species distribution modelling. I have a statistics-focussed handle, @statsforbios.

23rd January 2017 – Lisa Whitenack, Allegheny College

lisa-whitenackI am a biology professor at Allegheny College, a small liberal arts college in northwest Pennsylvania (USA). I teach a wide array of courses, including introductory biology, statistics, evolution, paleobiology (the study of fossil organisms), and research seminars. My research is focused on predator-prey relationships through evolutionary time, encompassing paleobiology and biomechanics (the application of principles from engineering and physics to biological problems). The majority of my research has been on fossil and living sharks, especially focusing on their teeth, as that is what roughly 95% of their fossil record is. I want to know why fossil shark teeth (up to 250 million years ago) are shaped the way they are, and why they are so different than modern sharks. I also study other fishes, crabs, snails, and salamanders.

My students are required to complete a senior thesis in order to graduate. Most of my students study things that are different than my research, as they are passionate about different things, but still use the techniques that I use. My students have examined the prey capture mechanics of venus flytraps, the evolution of trilobites across mass extinctions, the effects of the Endangered Species Act on the shape of wolf skulls, and the biomechanics of sports such as soccer, baseball, and long jump.

My second area of scholarship is on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, from kindergarten through college.  I coordinate partnerships and events between Allegheny College and my local school district to improve STEM education in my community. I am also a member of the Gills Club, an outreach group that gives girls opportunities to engage with projects focused on sharks, nature, and the environment.

My Ph.D. is in biology, with the wonderful Phil Motta at the University of South Florida. I stayed at USF, but moved up to geology for a postdoc with Greg Herbert. Before USF, I earned my M.S. in geology at Michigan State and my B.S. in geology at the University of Illinois. I grew up just outside Chicago, and even though Meadville is now home, sweet home Chicago still has part of my heart.  My husband and kids (3 & 7 years old) help me maintain that whole work-life balance thing. We craft, we play outside, we build Lego, and we embrace our geekery.

You can follow me on Twitter: @WhitenackLab

My blog: https://whitenacklab.wordpress.com/

My website: https://sites.google.com/a/allegheny.edu/whitenack/

June 29th 2015 – Achaz von Hardenberg, Alpine Wildlife Research Centre, Gran Paradiso National Park

Achaz HardenbergI am a wildlife ecologist in charge of research and conservation projects for the Alpine Wildlife Research Centre of the Gran Paradiso National Park in Italy and I serve also as a lecturer in Ecological Data Management and Analysis at the University of Turin. My research interests are widespread encompassing long term studies in evolutionary population ecology and demographics and the effects of climate change on population dynamics and life history, as well as molecular ecology, conservation biology and behavioural ecology. Besides a strong research program based on long term field studies of individually tagged animals (I contributed to start and currently maintain two successful long term research programs on Alpine ibex and on Alpine marmots), I have a strong interest in the development and application of novel statistical modelling methods in ecology and evolutionary biology for which I mostly use the open source statistical environment R and JAGS/WinBUGS. Recently I started also to work on phylogenetic comparative methods, and in particular on the development of both frequentist and Bayesian methods for path analysis and structural equation models with non-independent observations due to phylogenetic relatedness among species. 

During my Biotweeps week I plan tweet about all the above mentioned topics but I hope also to be able to do some live reporting from the field from our breathtaking study sites in the Gran Paradiso National Park (@PNGranParadiso)!  

You can find me on Google Scholar , ResearchGate and, of course, on Twitter: @achazhardenberg. Occasionally I also post on my not very active blog: www.causalecology.net

2nd March 2015 – Bob O’Hara, BiK -F

Bob O'HaraI am a senior scientist at BiK-F (the “Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre”), which is now a part of the Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Germany. Here I spend my time torturing data, mainly either developing better models of species distributions or helping other researcher in the institute with their analyses. My academic background spans statistics, genetics, plant pathology, and ecology. I am also a senior editor for Methods in Ecology and Evolution, which takes up some of my time.

Online I have been active for several years, with a blog that in now largely moribund (a curse of marriage), but I also occasionally sneak pieces onto my wife’s blog (a benefit of marriage: both my wife and her blog). I am also (of course) active on twitter.